“No one wants to be a beggar for life” – “Poverty, Inc.”

December 16, 2015, 7:32 am
consequences facing facts and accept consequence of acts take and face responsibilities

photo courtesy of DollarPhotoClub.com

Poverty, Inc. is a documentary from a group by the same name. You can see the trailer at those links.

The way we, that is, the developed world, are doing international development is broken. One comment in the movie from an economist in Africa tells the story:  emergency relief is the standard model used for decades to end poverty and suffering.

That isn’t working.

As another speaker says:

“No one wants to be a beggar for life”

I read two reviews of the movie, one from a center-left perspective and one from a center-right perspective. Both praise the movie and share in the criticism of big aid.

The documentary won several awards at a libertarian film festival and then won best documentary at a progressive film festival. Imagine that!

Guess which of the following two columnists made this comment?

It’s almost like anybody with a populist outlook and, you know, a brain between their ears and a heart between their shoulders, has got to look at our current system of international development and aid and say there’s something deeply wrong.

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It’s complicated. Evaluating charities and doing business in China version. Part 1

July 18, 2014, 6:48 am

Several posts on this site have looked at the issue of how complicated life is. Some may look at my pondering and think ‘bout time you caught on. For the rest of us, journey with me as I ponder some more.

In the next post, I’ll come back to what got me thinking about this. Wednesday evening I read two articles from ChinaSource Blog that pointed out yet one more time how incredibly complex China is, especially coming from my background as an American.  Full disclosure: I am currently providing professional services to ChinaSource.

The first article, Some Common Mistakes, points to a longer article.

Consider just one common mistake made by people trying to do business in China:

Do not underestimate China’s up-front time commitment.

You cannot just make one or two trips to China and think you are ready to go. No. The attorneys say you will need to send several high level staff to the country for years before you can really get started.

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Trying to make the world less miserable is complicated and messy

June 20, 2014, 6:55 am

One of the big reasons I blog is to help me sort out this big, complicated, messy world.

“J”, an anonymous blogger and novelist at AidSpeak, helps in general and especially with his recent post It’s a Crappy World.

He points out 5 of the tensions and paradoxes of the aid and development world. Lots to ponder.

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Why aid and development are difficult

January 29, 2014, 6:59 am

Life is complicated.

My reading over the last two years has opened my eyes to why successful aid and development is so difficult. Unintended consequences and complexity in general are a few reasons why it is hard to make things better in poor countries and why improvements are so slow.

Many of my readers processed through the ideas I’ll mention in this post a long time ago. This is old news for many.

For me, and for some readers of this blog, this is new territory. One of many reasons I blog is to work through what is new for me.

Here are two more articles that illustrate the complexities of facilitating change:

Systemic lack of justice

Why We’re Losing the War on Poverty is an interview in Christianity Today with Gary Haugen discussing his book, The Locust Effect: Why the End of Poverty requires the End of Violence.

The lack of functioning law enforcement allows violence to prey on the poor and plunder them. The corrosive effect of violence undermines everything else in a society. The one sentence summary: Read the rest of this entry »

Simple, Complicated, Complex, Chaotic – a way to make sense – part 4

December 3, 2013, 7:04 am

Previous posts introduced the simple/complicated/complex/chaotic quadrants of the Cynefin Framework and discussed how that can be used to analyze development issues.

Implications for economics

This framework has huge implications for discussions of economic issues. So many areas come to mind that are actually complex but we treat them as if they are complicated.

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Simple, Complicated, Complex, Chaotic – a way to make sense – part 3

November 25, 2013, 7:27 am

Previous posts introduced the Cynefin framework and described a bit of how it helps make sense.

Where it gets messy

Distinguishing between the complicated and complex quadrants is the biggest challenge.

As I ponder the Cynefin framework, I realize that distinction is the cause of many heated differences of opinion.

It is also the cause of many unintended consequences. I’ve talked about that a lot on my blogs.

Applying the solutions from the complicated quadrant to issues in the complex quadrant is the conceptual cause of most of the harm from those unintended consequences.

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Simple, Complicated, Complex, Chaotic – a way to make sense – part 2

November 18, 2013, 7:24 am

Previous post introduced the four quadrants of the Cynefin Framework: simple, complicated, complex, and chaotic.

One of the major implications of the framework is to highlight that the world is not neatly ordered. 

In addition, leadership styles need to change based on the nature of the situation.


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