Walter Williams and Aid to Africa – Stuck in Customs

Walter Williams and Aid to Africa

I first found out about Walter Williams a few years ago and he and we have built an occasional email correspondence. He’s a great guy and a fantastic economist. Williams is a professor at George Mason University. Here he is, “black by popular demand,” as he is wont to say.

excerpt from “Aid to Africa”

Let’s examine the “vicious cycle of poverty” myth and whether foreign aid is a necessary ingredient for economic development. The U.S., Britain, France, Canada and most other countries were once poor. Andrew Bernstein of the Ayn Rand Institute wrote in an article titled “Capitalism Is the Cure for Africa’s Problems” that pre-industrial Europe was vastly poorer than contemporary Africa.

A relatively well-off country, like France, experienced several famines between the 15th and 18th centuries as well as plagues and diseases that sometimes killed hundreds of thousands. In France, life expectancy was 20 years, in Ireland it was 19 years, and in early 18th-century London, more than 74 percent of the children died before reaching age 5.

Beginning in the late 18th century, there was a dramatic economic turnabout in Europe. How in the world did these once poor and backward countries break the “vicious cycle of poverty” and become wealthy, without what today’s development experts say is absolutely necessary for economic growth, foreign aid handouts, World Bank and International Monetary Fund loans, and billions of dollars of debt forgiveness?