Forbes: Your Help is Hurting

An Insty link caught my eye: “How Church Foreign Aid Programs Make Things Worse

The phenomenon described in the article (apparently to be the first of a series analyzing various types of charity and their results) is one I’m familiar with from another author’s works: Theodore Dalrymple. He describes the same phenomenon at work in the British underclass (with whom he has extensive experience) – “giving to the most needy” inspires everyone in the community into a race to the bottom in order to be “the most needy” and “earn” the most handouts. One particular example I recall reading was the tale of the expectant barely-middle-aged grandmother, who was thrilled that her oldest, teenage daughter (still in school) was pregnant by her boyfriend, because the addition of the baby to the family meant that the government would have to give them a bigger living space. None of the concern that white liberal elites have about teenage pregnancy cutting off a woman’s career opportunities – the only “career” opportunities this family’s ambition encompassed was “how can we get the government services to give us more stuff?” – and having babies as teenagers was the way young underclass women could ensure their future prospects. Education? Job training? No, those wouldn’t work – if you became too “able” to work for a living, the government would move you out of the “most needy” bracket well before you could afford to support yourself independently.

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