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Final update on charitable pledges

August 14th, 2005

Thanks to a reader at this blog, Nicola’s one per cent pledge has been successful. Congratulations to Imogen!

Meanwhile today is the last day for my Niger famine appeal. So far readers have donated $250, and my matching contribution makes a total of $500. To restate, I’m asking people to donate money to help with the Niger famine (feel free to substitute an alternative cause or organisation if you think it would be more worthwhile). Just send in a comment announcing your donation, or advise me by email, by Sunday and I’ll match it, up to a total of $1000. I’m giving to Medecins sans Frontieres.

Remember this is all tax deductible. So, if you’re on the top marginal tax rate, a donation of $100 actually costs you only $50. With my matching $100, the total amount given will be $200, enough to save many lives. But, if your budget is tighter, and you don’t benefit from tax deductibility, even $10 or $20 can make a difference.

Appeal closed Generous readers, listed below, have raised a total of $720. With the matching contribution, that’s a total of $1440. In comments, Ian Gould has announced another forthcoming appeal on the same lines, in support of the LifeStraw, a low-cost water purification device.

Thanks to everyone who contributed.

wilful 50
Stephen L 100
Mark Bahnisch 150
Youie 50
Jack Strocchi & Claire Rodda 20
Harry Clarke 100
wbb 50
James Farrell 50
email 150
Total 720

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  1. August 14th, 2005 at 09:07 | #1

    Jack Strocchi and Claire Rodda will set aside $20.00 from their “Ostentatious Philanthropy” trust fund for donation to Pr Q’s Niger relief blogathon.

  2. Harry Clarke
    August 14th, 2005 at 12:12 | #2

    I’ll give $100 to the Medecins sans Frontieres Niger appeal.

  3. Ian Gould
    August 14th, 2005 at 13:36 | #3

    I will donate $20 to the Niger relief effort.

    I will also draw people’s attention to the Lifestraw http://www.gizmag.com.au/go/4418/.

    Apparently, the lifestraw website will go live shortly and, I hope, will be accepting donations.

    If that happens (and John is agreeable) I will be promising to match donations pledged here up to a total of $200.

    I would be particularly happy if some of the people on both sides of the DDT ban debate could come together to assist this proposal which, while it doesn’t address malaria, seems to have the potential to greatly reduce water-borne diseases in the developing world.

  4. August 14th, 2005 at 14:26 | #4

    John, on the situation in Niger, I’d like to draw people’s attention to this post on its causes.

  5. Ian Gould
    August 14th, 2005 at 14:44 | #5

    Mark:

    >The reason why millet is in high demand in Nigeria and Ghana is that one of the reasons why they’re wealthier is that they’ve made the move to monoculture, so need to import food staples, as their agricultural land goes to producing cash crops for the world market.

    Arguably, had Niger made the same transition, there would be no famine.

    I know you’re probabyl aware of this, but it bears repeating that the problem isn’t markets or capitalism or globalisation per se, it’s the failure of past governments to allow markets to oeprate and the failure of current governments to recognise the fallibility of markets.

  6. August 14th, 2005 at 14:54 | #6

    wbb has donated (an even more ostentatious) $50 to the Oxfam Niger appeal.

    Oxfam Niger

  7. James Farrell
    August 14th, 2005 at 22:06 | #7

    Ditto.

  8. August 14th, 2005 at 23:46 | #8

    Mark Bahnisch draws our attention to an article that suggests free markets are the cause of Niger’s famine. This suggestion is wrong.

    The USSR abolished the free market in agriculture in 1933 which immediately caused a famine in the Ukraine and wrecked Russias rural economy. The USA established a free market in agriculture after 1865 and this turned North America into the bread basket of the world. Mugabwe is now setting about the destruction of capitalist farming in Zimbabwe, with predictable consequences.

    The causes of Niger’s poverty and famines are several and complex. But free markets in agriculture are part of the solution, not the problem, in these states.

    In passing, do commenters have any plausible, non-circular, explanations why sub-saharan African nations like Niger have experienced so much woe since the hopeful days of decolonisation in the sixties?

  9. August 15th, 2005 at 00:48 | #9

    There is no such thing as a free market. Except maybe in Africa. So free that failure is fatal. Yes, sub S Africa needs more trade, they need pretty much everything else too. It is useful to understand cases like the link at Mark’s site that shows the damage that unregulated free trade can do.

  10. Ian Gould
    August 15th, 2005 at 17:35 | #10

    Jack,

    There’s a lot of logic to the argument that wars in developing countries are ultimately driven by attempts to capture monopoly rents for extractable resources – examples include opium in Burma and Afghanistan; diamonds in Sierra Leone and Angola; oil in Nigeria; cocaine in Columbia.

    To channel Andrew Reynolds for a moment, the post-colonial regimes lacked both the physical capacity and the moral authority to enforce a property rights regime over these resources (or in the case of drugs to suppress their production.)

  11. August 15th, 2005 at 17:39 | #11

    wbb Says: August 15th, 2005 at 12:48 am

    It is useful to understand cases like the link at Mark’s site that shows the damage that unregulated free trade can do.

    wbb offers no information or analysis. The US comes closer to the free trade ideal than most states. Sub saharan Africa needs more free trade – primarily with American and European agricultural consumers – not less.

    Inadequate and unenforced in private property rights in both urban and rural environments is causing ecological and economic ruin to Africa.

    Also, African countries seem to have difficulty transforming their legal systems from tribal lore to national law.

    I suggest that Africas’s social woes stem from aborted national constitutionalism and stunted market capitalism. Can anyone offer some concrete suggestions on this?

  12. August 15th, 2005 at 17:56 | #12

    Ian Gould Says: August 15th, 2005 at 5:35 pm

    Jack, There’s a lot of logic to the argument that wars in developing countries are ultimately driven by attempts to capture monopoly rents for extractable resources – examples include opium in Burma and Afghanistan; diamonds in Sierra Leone and Angola; oil in Nigeria; cocaine in Columbia.

    Theres a lot of truth in that for sure. The ME is an example of how a superabundance of mineral resources can pervert a developing nations socio-political institutions.

    But lots of countries have been well endowed with natural resources – Australia for one – and have not had their history riven by resource rent wars. In those days the real cost of resources was alot higher.

    Moreover plenty of sub Saharan African nations are not so well endowed with mineral resources and yet still suffer from terrible socio-political deformations. I dont seem to remember mineral resources being a big issue in the Rawanda genocide.

    Sub-saharan Africa harbours a very hostile natural environment which makes for a very heavy disease load for the local population to bear. Besides being the home of lots of scary beasts it is also plays host to a nasty menagerie of virulent microbes and pathogens.

    This excessive disease load is no doubt one reason why Mankind came Out of Africa. It is also a fundamental reason why Africa was so hard to colonise, despite being right next door to Europe.

    Africans have to find some way to tame the wilder parts of their natural habitat – especially the water supply – to make time available for longer term production and reproduction plans to come to fruition. Bill Gates is certainly heading in the right direction.

    Any other clues as to what might be retarding sub-saharan African development?

  13. August 15th, 2005 at 18:04 | #13

    Just to clarify, I’m not the author of the post I linked to – it was written by LP blogger Kim.

  14. Ian Gould
    August 16th, 2005 at 09:54 | #14

    >Sub-saharan Africa harbours a very hostile natural environment which makes for a very heavy disease load for the local population to bear. Besides being the home of lots of scary beasts it is also plays host to a nasty menagerie of virulent microbes and pathogens.

    >This excessive disease load is no doubt one reason why Mankind came Out of Africa. It is also a fundamental reason why Africa was so hard to colonise, despite being right next door to Europe.

    I’d suggest a different way of looking at that – African microbes and parasites have had millions of years to evolve to target humans.

    When our ancestors left, they left most of their parasites behind.

    So, in the long run, we non-Africans can probable expect an increasing burden of disease as our new neighbours adapt to our presence.

    On the subject of resource wars: I agree that there are plenty of counter-examples. Even more relevant than Australia is Botswana.

    Botswana is a small land-locked southern African state with a decent-sized diamond mining industry. At independence it was one of the poorest countries in the world.

    Now it is one of the richest countries in Africa, despite a serious AIDS epidemic, and has never experienced serious social or ethnic disorder.

    To a large extent I think this can be explained, by the fact that Botswana is
    much less ethnically diverswe than most African states and has a well-established and respected monarchy. The fact that the kings to date have been pretty competent rulers and that South Africa continued to have a lot of influence doubtless helped.

    Rwanda is a different story and one which doesn’t fit the resource-rent theory. Until around 1900, the Tusi were pastoral nomads and were politically dominant. Population growth and the Rinderpest plague which killede most of their cattle forced the Tusi to settle and take up agriculture bringing them into competition with the Hutu farmers.

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