Barron’s: Governing as Looting

My tribute to foreign aid is the guest editorial in this week’s Barron’s. Here is an outtake they have posted online:

Editorial Commentary | SATURDAY, JUNE 4, 2011 The Anti-Corruption Charade

If there’s free money to steal, there will be more stealing

In much of the world, governing is a synonym for looting. Unfortunately, American and European foreign aid has a long history of accelerating the looting. Foreign aid created a generation of kleptocracies—governments of thieves—in Africa in the 1970s and 1980s. Mercedes-Benz automobiles became so popular among African government officials that a new Swahili word was coined: wabenzi—”men of the Mercedes-Benz.”

A 2009 Council on Foreign Relations report noted that “many public officials in Africa seek re-election because holding office gives them access to the state’s coffers, as well as immunity from prosecution.” ….


3 Responses to Barron’s: Governing as Looting

  1. alpowolf June 5, 2011 at 5:37 am #

    as well as immunity from prosecution

    It sounds like we’ve done an excellent job of exporting our brand of democracy. That’s certainly how we do it.

  2. Jim June 5, 2011 at 1:18 pm #

    If we don’t permit our rulers to commit crimes, how can they serve us?

  3. Lawrence June 7, 2011 at 5:25 pm #

    That “immunity from prosecution” part sounds like something Cheney would go for.