Are you aware of the charitable group called TechnoServe? It (correctly) bills itself as providing “Business Solutions to Poverty” in 29 mostly poverty-stricken countries around the world. For example, in Uganda it is using data captured by drones and satellites to help farmers determine where to allocate their limited resources to maximize their crops’ yields; in Mozambique it is using smart phones to facilitate more effective business decisions for cashew growers, buyers and manufacturers; and in Ethiopia it is making available solar-powered water pumps for irrigation systems to help family farmers cope with increasingly drier weather. Furthermore TechnoServe also provides mobile banking services for direct payments to be made by the farmers. And, importantly enough, it also provides all of its services equally to women and men!

So this is yet another example of how private individuals, companies and foundations simply do a better job in philanthropic work than do (any) governments. Governments are, by definition, bureaucracies that must cater to political demands. But the private sector can function directly to address the needs of those in poverty. In addition, how much money that our government donates to a poverty-stricken countries actually gets to the people it is meant to help, as opposed to resulting in the local government officials driving around in expensive cars and opening up Swiss bank accounts? This is not a total indictment of governments – they certainly fulfill some important functions. But when it comes to things like aid to the poor and emergency relief, I suggest that governments much more often should contract with private foundations to address the problems. (In that regard, maybe a good place to start would be for the US Government to abolish FEMA and simply contract with groups like the Red Cross for emergency relief? Something to think about.)

Seen on one side of a sign in front of a bar: “I have mixed drinks about feelings,” and on the other: “Great Minds Drink Alike.”

Judge Jim Gray (Ret.) Superior Court of Orange County, California 2012 Libertarian Candidate for Vice President

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