Don’t Give the Poor a Wealth of False Hopes

This new piece on sentimentality in the Daily Express gives foreign aid as one example of a policy that is based on “preference of what we would like to be true over what actually is true”:

It is justified by the supposed fact that many people and countries in the world are so poor they cannot do anything to improve their situation. Therefore they need our handouts in order to escape poverty.

This is arrant nonsense. Not a single country has ever been brought to prosperity by such handouts but many countries have escaped poverty without them. India still receives British aid, though it has an advanced space programme, turns out more and better engineers than Britain and its businessmen are buying moribund British firms.

Giving India aid is a form of self-flattery. It permits us to indulge in poor-them-generous-us fantasies.

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