Monday, September 26, 2005

U.N. stands for "useless ninnies"

Gregg Easterbrook:
Last week in New York, some 150 heads of state gathered for a summit to encourage the nations of the West to donate more aid to the impoverished of the developing world. Western nations should, in fact, increase the aid they give. Relatively small amounts by Western standards go a long way toward reducing human suffering in the world. And though corruption is an obvious problem, Western aid has accomplished far more for average people in developing nations than is generally understood. The details of that argument are here. The short version is that the reason the predicted Malthusian catastrophes have not struck developing nations is that aid helped prevent them. More, United States spending on foreign aid is much lower than popularly imaged -- only about one half of one percent of the federal budget is used for this purpose. We ought to give more.

But yours truly read in the New York Times that the influx of foreign leaders for the conference had flooded Manhattan's luxury hotels. The Four Seasons, where a deluxe suite costs $2,950 nightly plus tax, and the cheapest room is $625, was fully booked with foreign officials coming to New York to hector the United States for not giving more to other nations. At the Waldorf Towers, where a "grand" suite with dining room and boudoir costs $3,000 nightly, all 26 suites were booked by foreign delegations. Set aside were many of the super-expensive rooms were being occupied by government officials of the very nations needing aid -- that is, by leaders who are busily robbing their own people while asking America to pony up. I simply wonder how many millions of dollars were spent on luxury suites, first class travel and four-star meals for 150 heads of state and their staffs to come together and wring their hands about why doesn't someone else do more about poverty! Instead of spending that money on themselves, the officials who attended last week's United Nations meeting could have stayed home and given the money to the poor.

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