For five centuries, Europeans and their descendants have tried to control the lives of people in Africa. If this was going to work out well for Africa, we’d know it by now.
And yet, the effort continues. Not only in Africa but in much of Asia, the Pacific Islands, and Latin America. And they want to continue forever.
In 2015 the United Nations announced that its 15-year Millennium Development Goals had been the most successful anti-poverty program in history – even though the African continent had more malnourished people than in 2000, and while more children attended school, everyone except the U.N. was alarmed that many of those children were learning little, or nothing at all.
Colonialism still shapes our lives, but today it comes with a friendly face. We call it karma colonialism. Richer countries try to control the others, for their own ends, and say they just want to help. This site looks at many aspects of karma colonialism.
Introductory pages about karma colonialism
Left: It’s still colonialism. Today’s foreign aid and charities look different from colonialism of the past. But the old goals and attitudes haven’t changed. Right: Karma colonialism always looks nice. Here, U.S. Navy Seabees build a school in Timor Leste. But they’re doing it to benefit America, not Timor Leste. Recent Posts
Left: One Laptop Per Child. U.N. agencies, with funding from big tech, endlessly pitch tech-based solutions to education problems. It doesn’t work — but the money is good. Here’s a look at the most famous of these. Right: Why won’t they hire local talent? World Vision, Unicef, Save the Children, and others issue frequent reports on how they’re helping people in distant lands. Why do they prefer to hire Western photographers for these reports?
Left: The paternalism never ends. “We are still waiting,” says this U.N. ad, which reflects the aid industry belief that development consists of rich nations giving handouts to the helpless, passive others. Right: The campaign against reading. The aid industry says it promotes reading. But its actions — such as dumping unwanted books from the USA — are motivated by self-interest, and consistently undermine reading in the global South.
Left: The origin of modern schooling: Worldwide, children attend schools that use rote memorization to teach for the test, and leave students unprepared for the real world. How did this system become so widespread? Right: How aid makes education worse. Too many children in developing countries enter secondary school unable to read their own name. It wasn’t always this way. Here’s how self-serving Western aid has contributed to illiteracy.
Left: GDP seems neutral. It is not. Why is GDP so often misused as a measure of a country’s overall well-being? Because that shapes policy to favor the global elite. Right: The SDG goals: What’s missing? The UN has 17 development goals with 169 targets. But a lot is missing. For example, anything that would cut into corporate profits.
Left: Garbage in… UNESCO takes garbage data, runs it through a fancy formula, and claims to show a picture of education around the globe. This merely disguises the fact that UNESCO really has no idea where things stand. Right: Unicef needs the “needy.” This photo is from a Unicef fundraising appeal for “needy families.” It is the very opposite of the “empowerment” that they talk about.
Left: Bribes. Unicef gave vehicles to Zimbabwean officials “to help review the school curriculum.” Nonsense. Thinly-disguised bribes ensure a warm welcome for foreign aid staff, who can then keep drawing big salaries. Right: Do African perspectives matter? The Global Partnership for Education shapes education policy in 70 countries, mostly in Africa and Asia. Its CEO, chair, and 7-member evaluation team are from the USA, Australia, and Europe.
Left: Masters of Deceit. Raising funds for “girls’ education” has become big business…. and remarkably often, the aid industry has crossed the line into deceit and dishonesty. Right: Boys thrown under the schoolbus. U.N. agencies and NGOs focus almost exclusively on girls’ education. But girls are faring better than boys, whose needs are ignored and who are falling behind.
Left: Groupthink has led to many disasters — from burning down ancient peat forests, to compelling children in the South to attend schools where they learn nothing. Groupthink helps the aid industry stay in business. Right: Why not just give them the money? Cash transfers — just giving aid money directly to those you wish to help — has a proven track record. Why does the aid industry dislike this approach? How karma colonialism works
Left: The Shadow Government. UNICEF produces reports — not always good ones! — for weak governments to publish as their own. This ends up being even worse than it sounds. Right: The high cost of meddling. Aid organizations claim they want to “fix” problems, but they’re really driven to create jobs for themselves, while pleasing foreign donors. They end up meddling, and it carries a high cost. Other stories of interest
Left: High-level hypocrisy. Coca-Cola pushes a harmful product on vulnerable children. How can Warren Buffett be a trustee for the world’s biggest health foundation, and also Coke’s biggest investor? Right: Schools in the global South are getting worse. The aid industry doesn’t ask why, and for good reason. It created much of the problem.
Left: Cash transfers. Why not just give aid funds directly to the people you want to help? This approach has been done, results have been studied — and it proves quite effective. Right: What would make a better future? There are ways that wealthier countries can genuinely help others, if they want to. Give the aid money directly to the poor, for example. Here are ideas.
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