USAID

Development: the Greatest Story Ever Told

After all the efforts of the last 6 decades, only a minority of countries are developed. That seems like a sad indication that the odds are long as countries struggle to attain Development. Yet let’s not take the Development that has been achieved for granted.
If you beat the odds, the payoff is remarkably large (which is maybe why all of us are working so hard on Development!) As the figure shows, a third of the sample of countries is at $8000 per capita or better in 2008, and a fifth of the sample is $16,000 per capita or better. In this sample, there is a 1 percent chance of getting all the way to national average income per person of $32,000.

Why the US “whole of government” approach to development is a black hole

UPDATE by Bill: unconscious experiment on Twitter of sexiness vs wonkiness, see end of post.
Aid Watch has frequently panned the administration’s declared strategy of “elevating development” to be “on par” with diplomacy and defense. For one, this rhetoric obscures the actual—and continuing–disparity in magnitude, power and influence between the so-called “3Ds.” For another, it implies that the objectives of each “D” tend to be aligned.
Todd Moss, at the Center for Global Development, writes that the administration’s speechifying on this subject is increasingly “ringing embarrassingly hollow,” as USAID doesn’t control its own budget, and the State Department is effectively running both US aid efforts in Haiti and the president’s new food security initiative.

The transparent US government to development advocates: drop dead

Robert Strauss, a Madagascar-based consultant, filed a Freedom of Information Act request last March to find out more about the US government decision to remove Madagascar from its list of countries eligible to receive trade preferences  under AGOA.

Stop me before I paradox again

Robin Hanson offers these thoughts on big-picture thinking (HT Dennis Whittle):
I’ve …noticed that among smart folks, the most successful keep their smarts on a short leash. They use their smarts to make the sale, win the case, pass the test, get published, etc., but they don’t use much smarts to consider whether they really want to make the sale, win the case, etc. …

Government warns against global travel and/or staying at home

UPDATE 1PM: let’s be fair to our beleagured security officials (see end of post)
The NYT correctly mocks the new US government travel alert:
Where is the threat? Europe. What is the target? Subways, railways, aircraft, ships or any “tourist infrastructure.”
The government’s cluelessness is even more breathtaking once we include two simple truths about risk:
(1) a warning covering an extremely broad area implies the risk in any one location is very low.

Development: Say it with flowers

Cut flower exports get a lot of development buzz. I’ll make this into a bleg for anybody who can contribute some systematic knowledge on this.

Osama Bin Laden, aid expert

From the New York Times:
We are in need of a big change in the method of relief work because the number of victims is great due to climate changes in modern times

We interrupt this diatribe for a brief kindly announcement

There’s been a lot to get outraged about on Aid Watch this week. World Bank leader calls for democratizing research while censoring research. USAID and NGOs urge transparency while egregiously non-transparent. Critics criticize our criticism of FAO hunger numbers that turn out to be even worse than we first suggested.
Our strongest supporters correctly point out that excessively bland and polite statements have little effect on the debate compared to outrage, and outrage is often justified.

TransparencyGate: the end of the road

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

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