Unintended Consequences Of Charity

July 2, 2012 in Daily Bulletin

Mark Hill explored some of the economic reasons why the most well-intentioned acts of charity might have unintended consequences. Highlights from the humourous article include:

  • Donating clothing is harmful because it drives local merchants out of business, ruining budding economies. Moreover the resources required to physically move clothes from rich countries to the poor could be used in better ways.
  • Earmarking donations. While making sure that your funds are only used for a certain purpose sounds noble, it actually introduces horrible inefficiencies. After the 2004 tsunami people earmarked their donations to rebuild houses. But what people actually needed was food, and since they couldn’t actually spend that money on food, they ended up building mini-mansions for many, just to spend the money.
  • Volunteering after disasters. Sacrificing your valuable time is impressive, but it’s also unhelpful. The locals can do as good a job as you, and you’re wasting their time by needing direction. What the affected really need are resources – that you are now consuming by being at the disaster site.

To read more including why picking a charity with low-overheads is a bad idea, why awareness campaigns are a waste of time, why even doctors are told not to go overseas, the arrogance of charity workers, why the Breast Cancer Awareness campaign has failed, how this relates to Kony 2012, and why Japan begged people to stop sending money, click here.

Source: Cracked