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Friday, February 15, 2008
The complaint about (and appeal of, I dare say) Barack Hussein Obama is that he only speaks in vacuous platitudes and rarely gives specifics on any of his policies. Well, here is a bill that he sponsored, which is currently getting fast tracked through the Senate.
A nice-sounding bill called the "Global Poverty Act," sponsored by Democratic presidential candidate and Senator Barack Obama, is up for a Senate vote on Thursday and could result in the imposition of a global tax on the United States. The bill, which has the support of many liberal religious groups, makes levels of U.S. foreign aid spending subservient to the dictates of the United Nations.

Senator Joe Biden, chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, has not endorsed either Senator Barack Obama or Hillary Clinton in the presidential race. But on Thursday, February 14, he is trying to rush Obama’s “Global Poverty Act” (S.2433) through his committee. The legislation would commit the U.S. to spending 0.7 percent of gross national product on foreign aid, which amounts to a phenomenal 13-year total of $845 billion over and above what the U.S. already spends.
In addition to seeking to eradicate poverty, that declaration commits nations to banning “small arms and light weapons” and ratifying a series of treaties, including the International Criminal Court Treaty, the Kyoto Protocol (global warming treaty), the Convention on Biological Diversity, the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination Against Women, and the Convention on the Rights of the Child.
I just read a column yesterday in the City Journal about the Millenium Project, which is the idea behind this Senate bill. The piece describes in detail how bad the "paternalistic" ideology is for the world.
Paternalism was supposed to be finished. The belief that grown men and women are childlike creatures who can thrive in the world only if they submit to the guardianship of benevolent mandarins underlay more than a century’s worth of welfare-state social policy, beginning with Otto von Bismarck’s first Wohlfahrtsstaat experiments in nineteenth-century Germany. But paternalism’s centrally directed systems of subsidies failed to raise up submerged classes, and by the end of the twentieth century even many liberals, surveying the cultural wreckage left behind by the Great Society, had abandoned their faith in the welfare state.

Yet in one area, foreign aid, the paternalist spirit is far from dead. A new generation of economists and activists is calling for a “big push” in Africa to expand programs that in practice institutionalize poverty rather than end it. The Africrats’ enthusiasm for the failed policies of the past threatens to turn a struggling continent into a permanent ghetto—and to block the progress of ideas that really can liberate Africa’s oppressed populations.
Paternalism persists as a psychology precisely because it satisfies the cravings of vanity in a way that real reform doesn’t. (Where people have learned to save themselves, they do not need saviors.) So potent are paternalism’s pleasures that it has beguiled even those who theoretically oppose it.
Paternalism’s most astute defenders have always worked to disguise its coercive qualities by framing their efforts as an attempt to save the little people—as yet unspoiled by the cruel ethos of capitalism—from the evils of freedom. Some paternalists, like the socialists of the 1920s and 1930s, romanticized alienated proletarians and made a fetish of their innocence; others, like the “radical chic” philanthropists whom Tom Wolfe satirized in the 1960s, found their noble savages in the urban ghetto. Like their predecessors, the Africrats, too, romanticize their exotic pets. In doing so, they have worked out a new bucolic aesthetic to justify their disillusionment with capitalism, even as they promote policies that promise to keep their wards in a Rousseauian state of primitive innocence.

If the prosperous nations really want to help Africa, they need to resist the seductions of paternalism. They need to promote, not policies that will ensure that the continent remains a collection of fiefdoms dependent on subsidies and celebrity pity, but wealth-generating entrepreneurial efforts. They need to export, not a dated philosophy of mandarinism, but ideas that really can lift peoples and nations out of the lower depths—the ideas of Bacon, Hayek, de Soto, and The Wealth of Nations.


sarah said...

excellent post.

Anonymous said...

Thanks. :)

I hope everything with your family works out okay.

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Darius' book montage

The Cross Centered Life: Keeping the Gospel The Main Thing
Crazy Love: Overwhelmed by a Relentless God
Overcoming Sin and Temptation
According to Plan: The Unfolding Revelation of God in the Bible
Disciplines of a Godly Man
Money, Greed, and God: Why Capitalism Is the Solution and Not the Problem
When Helping Hurts: Alleviating Poverty Without Hurting the Poor. . .and Ourselves
The Prodigal God: Recovering the Heart of the Christian Faith
Respectable Sins
The Kite Runner
Life Laid Bare: The Survivors in Rwanda Speak
Machete Season: The Killers in Rwanda Speak
A Generous Orthodoxy: Why I am a missional, evangelical, post/protestant, liberal/conservative, mystical/poetic, biblical, charismatic/contemplative, fundamentalist/calvinist, ... anabaptist/anglican, metho
Show Them No Mercy
The Lord of the Rings
Life at the Bottom: The Worldview That Makes the Underclass
The Truth War: Fighting for Certainty in an Age of Deception
Cool It: The Skeptical Environmentalist's Guide to Global Warming
The Chronicles of Narnia
Les Misérables

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