USA for Africa, Save Africa’s Children, Save Africa Project, Save Africa Global, and Save Africa are all of the top-tier charitable organizations. Africa heads the list of U.S. aid. 46% of all U.S. aid goes to Africa. Projections list U.S. aid at four billion a year and projections list world aid directed at Africa to be nearly 50 billion a year. China doesn’t think more aid is the answer. They think they may have an answer, but you’re probably not going to like it.
The experts will tell you that our aid culture that involves marches, government’s bending over backwards to try and support it, and celebrities doing infomercials for it may actually be hurting Africa. “Evidence overwhelmingly demonstrates that aid to Africa has made the poor poorer, and the growth slower. The insidious aid culture has left African countries more debt-laden, more inflation-prone, more vulnerable to the vagaries of the currency markets and more unattractive to higher-quality investment. It’s increased the risk of civil conflict and unrest (the fact that over 60% of sub-Saharan Africa’s population is under the age of 24 with few economic prospects is a cause for worry). Aid is an unmitigated political, economic and humanitarian disaster.”
The report also lists an International Monetary Fund report entitled “Aid Will Not Lift Growth in Africa.” The report cautioned that governments, donors and campaigners should be more modest in their claims that increased aid will solve Africa’s problems. Despite such comments, no serious efforts have been made to wean Africa off this debilitating drug.”
The Chinese federal government is run by scientists and engineers. There are a multitude of problems within the Chinese federal government, and we all know what those are. I’m not going to waste your time in this post listing them here. The United States of America is run by lawyers and feel-good theoreticians. There are a multitude of problems with the U.S. government too, and those are also too numerous to list here. The problems these two individual countries have are wildly divergent on many planes and scales, but the answer of who will succeed in the end may lie in a most unusual source: Africa.
Scientists and engineers are generally a fact based lot. Ask them what one plus one is, and they will tell you two. Lawyers are more likely to utter convoluted phrases such as, “that depends on what is is.” Ask a scientist or an engineer the best method of assisting a downtrodden country, and they will tell you that the best way to help a country is to help them build their infrastructure and their economy. A western politician may tell you the same thing, but the means through which the two factions attempt to achieve that goal are wildly divergent. There’s nothing to be gained by a western politician in the manner in which a scientist or an engineer seeks to help a country.
A western politician (i.e. a lawyer) is more likely to tell us we need to throw far more money at the problem. This method provides rich rewards to the politician that proposes it, for it makes for wonderful headlines, and it makes those who send the money appear wonderful. It also provides beautiful padding in a resume, and it helps politicians get re-elected, but how much does it actually accomplish? How much of the money procured by Bob Geldof, Bono, Paul Simon and George W. Bush et al., has accomplished anything long term? You could say that some of that directed money has done a great deal to fight AIDS in Africa, but what has it done for their economy?
We’re Americans. We demand results. If that were true, we wouldn’t be doing what we’ve been doing for so long in the manner we’re doing it. After repeated efforts, and demonstrable failure, Americans continue to demand that we do something, anything to help those poor people over there. This call usually results in us sending more money, money that is stolen by leaders, warlords, and the military. Our track record is awful thus far, yet we keep doing it. The question is why?
Answer: The fear of failure. If the Americans (and everyone else involved in the aid culture for that matter) fail in their altruistic efforts there will still be sighs, for they tried. They will also say it’s not enough. By many projections, the conditions in much of Africa are as bad, if not worse, than they were before. We haven’t sent enough is the answer we hear from western politicians. It’s never enough. The amount we’ve sent thus far has been insufficient for the dire nature of the problems that exist in Africa. If we achieved little to nothing with the billions we’ve sent thus far, why should we send more? How much should we send before we finally start achieving substantial results? Answer: Who cares? Answer: The situation in Africa is so dire we shouldn’t be quibbling over monetary figures. Answer: Send more. Answer: There will be sighs. The act of sending money is enough, but the amount is never enough. The results are secondary at best.
The scientists and engineers that lead China are results oriented and by many definitions heartless. They’re concerned with two things commerce and China. They’re concerned with profiteering and Capitalism. They’re concerned with one plus one when it equals gains below the profit line. They see “assisting” Africa as a profitable venture. They see themselves as entrepreneurs in Africa, but some detractors say their policies are exploiting Africa and depleting Africa of its natural resources.
The Chinese are not as concerned with the optics, as westerners. They don’t care if we question their motives. The scientists and engineers of China see the beneficial aspects of their policies in Africa as a byproduct of their policy. So, their policies and actions could fail to help Africa in a substantial manner, but as the Businessinsider.com article below states, it may help.
The article basically states that China may be able to help Africa far more than all the benefits concerts and aid packages, because they view Africa as a business partner not a charity case. The article also states that China is not above playing politics. They have stated that their efforts are not all about Africa’s rich natural resources, but if you look through the spin to see the numbers you see that it is, and you recognize that they’re cold and they’re heartless and acting in their own behalf in a ruthless, Capitalist manner, and you see that they may be the best thing that’s ever happened to Africa.
Another article listed below, lists some of the crimes against the environment and the heartless and time consuming ventures the Chinese are using in Africa, but the author ends his piece with the recognition that this may be something we could learn from. He says: “(The Chinese policy) reeks of the desperation of perfected capitalism, and that is the world’s economic system. Knowing it doesn’t mean you love it.”
In other words, as I say, the Chinese policy in Africa would not make good copy in a newspaper. It would not be a policy explored by politicians concerned with poll numbers, and it would not make for a feel good piece produced by an MSNBC anchor. If a U.S. politician, say a Republican, tried such a method there would be protests on the White House lawn, talking heads would be calling for investigations, convictions of crimes against humanity and the environment, and misdemeanor charges against the Republicans for raping and pillaging Africa. The scientists and engineers of China aren’t concerned with such things.
The scientists and engineers are also not concerned with the poor and impoverished of Africa. They may say that they are, when confronted with westerners, but it doesn’t appear that they are, and again it may be the best thing that ever happened to Africa.
As I said earlier, the problems of the Chinese government are too numerous to list here, but a study of the policies and actions of China in Africa can’t help but lead the reader into thinking that Washington and western European nations have been doing something wrong in Africa (and domestically) for decades. The undue amount of focus we’ve placed on focus groups, polls, and political action committees wants and needs has led to greater problems in Africa (and domestically). We’ve stopped being pragmatic types that get things done. We’ve stopped concentrating on the bottom line. When it doesn’t work, we pour money in. When that doesn’t work, we pour more money in. When that doesn’t work, we try a “jobs plan” to pour more money in. Nothing the current lot of politicians is trying to do is working. It gets some great sighs, but little else in the way of heartless, bottom line accounting. Nothing the world has done for decades has worked in Africa. If this “Chinese in Africa” venture works, perhaps we should consider an entrepreneur based capitalist society that is led by scientists and engineers that try to solve a problem pragmatically rather than politically.