USAID

Response from Mercy Corps on Transparency

Editor’s note: Aid Watch received the following from Mercy Corps in response to a request for comment on Till Bruckner’s post The accidental NGO and USAID transparency test. We have reproduced the Mercy Corps response here in full:

USAID and NGO transparency: When in doubt, hide the data

by Till Bruckner, PhD candidate at the University of Bristol and former Transparency International Georgia aid monitoring coordinator
In my last blog post on this website, I claimed that some NGOs had instructed USAID to hide part or all of their project budgets in a FOIA response, and praised others for their openness. Aid Watch subsequently contacted all NGOs mentioned in the piece for comments.
In its response, World Vision denied ever having asked USAID to withhold budgetary information:

Superstition and Development

By Peter T. Leeson, BB&T Professor for the Study of Capitalism at George Mason University.
Gypsies believe that the lower half of the human body is invisibly polluted, that supernatural defilement is supernaturally contagious, and that non-Gypsies are spiritually toxic.
Far from irrational, these superstitions are central to Gypsies’ system of social order. Gypsies can’t rely on government-created legal institutions to support cooperation between them. Many of their economic and social relationships are unrecognized or illegal according to state law. Yet Gypsies’ need for law and order is as strong as anyone else’s.

Aid Watch addresses an unexpected embarrassing problem

We’ve noticed a strange phenomenon on Aid Watch: our April 10, 2010 post Famine Africa stereotype porn shows no letup has also shown the least letup of any of our posts, showing up with traffic day after day. It is now the fourth most popular post of all time on Aid Watch. I was rather slow to figure out what was going on, which just shows what being raised as a Methodist in squeaky-clean rural Ohio can do to you.

The Ground Zero mosque and cognitive biases

Among the many other things involved in this controversy, stereotypes of Muslims are not exactly helping.

World Vision responds on transparency

Editor’s note: we are posting the following note received in its entirety from World Vision.
World Vision Statement
In response to the Aid Watch post: The Accidental NGO and USAID Transparency Test

NGO Response: CNFA Reaffirms Commitment to Transparency

Editor’s note: We emailed every organization mentioned in Till Bruckner’s recent blog post, The accidental NGO and USAID Transparency Test to ask for their comment. CNFA sent us a response (also posted on their website) this afternoon, which we are reproducing here in full:

Did Gates and Buffett do more good as businessmen than as philanthropists?

Provocative case for “yes” in today’s Wall Street Journal (gated link), by Kimberley Dennis,  President of Searle Freedom Trust:
Wealthy businessmen often feel obligated to ‘give back.’ Who says they’ve taken anything?
Full disclosure: DRI benefits from post-docs indirectly funded by the Searle Foundation.

Till Bruckner Responds to Critics on Meaningful Transparency

The following post was written by Till Bruckner, PhD candidate at the University of Bristol and former Transparency International Georgia aid monitoring coordinator.

Is it OK to neglect disaster in Pakistan because it’s not a tourist destination? If not, see below

The latest story on the catastrophic flooding in Pakistan is about how it hasn’t been a story.
Compared to the response to the Haitian earthquake, media coverage of the Pakistan floods has been paltry. While news coverage isn’t correlated with need, it does have a major effect on the amount of disaster relief aid given. An article in the Chronicle of Philanthropy yesterday reported that eleven US charities had so far raised only $5 million for Pakistan flood relief, compared to $560 million raised by 39 US groups in the two and a half weeks after the Haiti earthquake.

Chinatown

Many do not realize that New York’s thriving Chinatown is a suprisingly recent phenomenon.  Even during America’s open immigration years in the late 19th and early 20th centuries, Chinese were not welcome.  The Chinese Exclusion Act of 1882 formalized ugly prejudice.
New York’s Chinatown stayed very small, surrounded in the early 20th century by Italian and Jewish immigrants.

The accidental NGO and USAID transparency test

The following post was written by Till Bruckner, PhD candidate at the University of Bristol and former Transparency International Georgia aid monitoring coordinator.  An op-ed from Bill in Monday’s Wall Street Journal mentioned Till’s struggles with USAID; here Till provides the details.
The aid industry routinely pushes institutions in developing countries to become more transparent and accountable. But a slow and almost comically incomplete donor response to a request to see some specific project budgets sheds light on exactly how willing donors are to apply such “best practices” to themselves.

Why can’t leading conservative magazine understand freedom?

Found this  mysterious transmission on a robot named R2D2 Twitter from  joshuafoust: ”National Review Online endorses authoritarian capitalism. Help us, Obi Wan @bill_easterly, you’re our only hope!”

Wishful thinking on Pakistan

From last weekend’s New York Times:
As the Obama administration continues to add to the aid package for flood-stricken Pakistan — already the largest humanitarian response from any single country — officials acknowledge that they are seeking to use the efforts to burnish the United States’ dismal image there.…
American officials say they are trying to rekindle the same good will generated five years ago when the United States military played a major role in responding to an earthquake in Kashmir in 2005 that killed 75,000 people.

Rodrik on The Myth of Authoritarian Growth

I really agree with Dani’s great article on this (HT Chris Blattman).
When we look at systematic historical evidence… we find that authoritarianism buys little in terms of economic growth. For every authoritarian country that has managed to grow rapidly, there are several that have floundered. For every Lee Kuan Yew of Singapore, there are many like Mobutu Sese Seko of the Congo.

18th century wetbacks

Update: see end of post
Why should the Palatine Boors be suffered to swarm into our Settlements, and by herding together establish their Language and Manners to the Exclusion of ours? Why should Pennsylvania, founded by the English, become a Colony of Aliens, who will shortly be so numerous as to Germanize us instead of our Anglifying them, and will never adopt our Language or Customs, any more than they can acquire our Complexion. (Benjamin Franklin (1751)).

Manhattan’s Non-Market Economy

Tyler Cowen has a great NYT column today about the harmful distortions caused by “free” parking.
Manhattan offers plenty more ammunition to his case. Both sides of most crosstown numbered streets (17th, 18th, etc.) are devoted to “free” parking, which adds to traffic gridlock by creating one-lane streets, frequently blocked by delivery vans or by stopped taxis. Those using those “free” slots have to expend a lot of effort to keep moving their cars to comply with various random restrictions, like opposite side restrictions for street cleaning on different weekdays, or weekend vs. weekday, or work hours vs. night.

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