Think Before You Leap

Discuss some personal, local, national, or international issue and its importance to you.

"For God's sake, please stop the aid!" This prominently placed quote in a magazine I was reading immediately caught my attention. It reminded me of an article written by Milton Friedman on the null or negative impact of foreign aid. I admit that by then I had developed a prejudice towards Friedman's opinions, yet his article was so convincing -- and startling -- that I decided to read more on the matter. This happened during my last summer vacation, in Brazil, not long before the G8 summit at Gleneagles, so the matter was being intensely debated, and articles and papers on the topic were even more easily available than usual. The more I read, the less it seemed like ending poverty was as simple as having countries abide to the Monterrey Consensus. I found the whole issue extremely intriguing, but I was particularly fascinated by research into the types of foreign aid that do work: studies performed by Abhijit Banerjee, Ruimin He, Esther Duflo and Jeffrey Sachs.

Then came the quote. It was an excerpt from an interview with the Kenyan economist James Shikwati. What struck me his statement's bluntness: "For God's sake, please stop the aid!" Only then did I start thinking about the issue in a...

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