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Re-thinking foreign aid, growth and development | 

Yeah, I know that headline sounds a little boring and wonky. Re-thinking. Growth. Aid. Development.

That’s because using words like equality, wealth distribution and the like tends to scare people. Makes you sound like a socialist or something worse — like the original (and perhaps still persistent, despite all the evidence to the contrary) image of what some thought President Barack Obama had in mind for the nation.

But “re-thinking growth and development” does seem like the best way to sum up these three recent articles from The Guardian. I am highlighting them because I thought they were especially thought-provoking.

The basic working assumption here is that the gap between the rich and poor is increasing, both here in the U.S. and in many parts of the world. Global inequity causes global instability and, arguably, at a certain point this gap becomes morally difficult to justify.

With that working assumption in mind, I link to these three articles:

Jonathan Glennie — Want less, use less, share more

In the 20th century, increased production was a fairly successful response to absolute poverty, which had been the lot of most of the human race for most of history. But in the 21st century, that path has come to a dead end, as the planet reaches its resource limits. A more equal distribution of wealth needs to return to the centre of development theory.

Priti Patnaik — Is India showing the failure of a focus on growth, on trickle-down economics?

The cheerleaders for growth are, as is to be expected, the government, big business and the burgeoning middle class. Facing them are those on the wrong side of the lop-sided growth story, environmentalists and academics.

Madeleine Bunting — Will aid go on forever?

Does aid go on forever? Does global inequality carry on deepening? … Will the web and the growth of China, Brazil and India change aid forever? Or will climate change, conflict and corruption bring development fatigue and more celebrity campaigners?

Analysis: Could the Middle East “Jasmine Revolution” spread to America? Should it? | 

Flickr, Megan Skelly

Grass fire

The grassfire Arab revolt sparked last December in Tunisia by the self-immolation suicide of a poor, abused fruit seller is now being called the Jasmine Revolution, apparently because the media likes to color code these kind of things.

Like Iran’s green revolution (which failed) and Ukraine’s orange revolution (which succeeded).

Right now, most of the attention is on Libya where Muammar Gaddafi (or Gadhafi, or Mallomar Godzilla, however you want to spell his name) is waging war on his own people, trying to turn back the tide of political reform. Continue reading