Blog author: jballor
Monday, May 15, 2006
By

John Stossel has made an excellent and noteworthy journalistic career by going where the evidence takes him. He possesses an intellectual honesty and curiosity that is refreshing, especially when compared to the banal talking head syndrome which dominates most main stream media.

As co-anchor of ABC’s 20/20, Stossel has negotiated a deal which allows him to do special reports on whatever interesting and controversial topics he chooses. His latest was a special aimed at debunking popularly accepted myths, tied to the release of his new book, Myths, Lies and Downright Stupidity.

Here’s Stossel’s #1 myth: More foreign aid will end global poverty. (You can view video of the segment here.) Stossel points to Bono and Jeffrey Sachs as examples of people who perpetuate this myth, with their advocacy of the ONE campaign and emphasis on increased foreign aid.

Stossel relies in part on June Arunga and James Shikwati of the Inter Region Economic Network to explode this myth: “Arunga grew up in Kenya, and she wonders why Americans waste money on foreign aid to Africa … when many politicians just steal it.”

“What’s holding down Africans is actually the bad governments, the bad policies that make it difficult for Africans to make use of their own property,” Shikwati said. “What the aid money is doing to Africa is to subsidize the bad policies that are making Africans poor.”

The Acton Institute has worked on exposing the false assumptions of this myth a long time, and with the help of Arunga and Shikwati as well. Arunga wrote a letter from a WTO meeting in Cancun in 2003, first published by the Acton Institute (PDF) and subsequently carried in the Philadelphia Inquirer (October 6, 2003). James Shikwati authored an Acton Commentary that same year, “The WTO and the Voice of the Poor.”

For more information about Acton’s work in these areas, check out our special Aid to Africa section, which brings together a number of important and related resources, including conversations on debt relief and the moral nature of business with the Rt. Rev. Bernard Njoroge, bishop of the diocese of Nairobi in the Episcopal Church of Africa, and Chanshi Chanda, chairman of the Institute of Freedom for the Study of Human Dignity in Kitwe, Zambia.

You can also visit Acton’s award-winning IMPACT ad campaign, aimed at raising awareness about the complexity of global poverty and the Solutions video, which addresses failures of governments first, governments only proposals.

And for more of John Stossel, check out the 2 CD set of his address at the Lord Acton Lecture Series on October 20, 1997, in which he deals with the pervasiveness of government and the nature of self-interest in the free economy.


  • http://www.opportunitiesaplenty.com/Debt_Blog/ DebtBlog

    Mr. Stossel does a great service to Americans, often telling many what they don’t want to hear. The world’s liberals (oops, progressives) just feel it, if we could just increase foreign aid, poverty would be at an end. Just a bit more, a bit more…..there, it’s all gone.

    During the interview it was obvious that Stossel’s position was that government corruption must be eliminated and a strong, just legal system be implemented before African poverty could be erradicated. Mr. Sachs, however, was obvlivious to this because of his blind faith that giving more money will end poverty. He pointed out that Stossel must hate poor people. Maybe that’s it. If we jsut loved more and profited less, all would be okay.

  • Michael JR Jose

    Fortunately Mr Stossel is not a lone voice, the economist Thomas Sowell (Stanford) makes these points, very eloquently, in many of his books, from ‘Basic Economics’, ‘A Personal Odyssey’, and others. And, it is strictly pertinent to point out here, that Mr Sowell is a black man who came up through the system on merit.

  • http://www.stonescryout.org/archives/2006/05/the_myth_of_aid_1.html Stones Cry Out

    The Acton Institute for the Study of Religion and Liberty has their own PowerBlog worth keeping track of (and a semi-occasional podcast). I missed this last week (my blog reading got way behind), but it’s a good one; the Myth…