"Can't Say No" Spending

by Eliezer Yudkowsky1 min read18th Oct 200733 comments


Personal Blog

The remarkable observation that medical spending has zero net marginal effect is shocking, but not completely unprecedented.

According to Spiegel in "Too Much of a Good Thing: Choking on Aid Money in Africa", the Washington Center for Global Development calculated that it would require $3,521 of marginal development aid invested, per person, in order to increase per capita yearly income by $3.65 (one penny per day).

The Kenyan economist James Shikwati is even more pessimistic in "For God's Sake, Please Stop the Aid!":  The net effect of Western aid to Africa is actively destructive (even when it isn't stolen to prop up corrupt regimes), a chaotic flux of money and goods that destroys local industry.

What does aid to Africa have in common with healthcare spending? Besides, of course, that it's heartbreaking to just say no -