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The BBC reports that European donors have unveiled a US$6 billion aid package for West Africa to "help halt the emigration of young people from the region," by creating "a Francophone West African bloc so prosperous no one will want to leave."
Yesterday the New York Times profiled Lant Pritchett and sketched his proposal to create 16 million guest-worker jobs in rich countries for people from poor countries. His goal is to help people from very poor places make their lives better.
President Bush is going to Latin America, and that has inspired a round of commentary in the mainstream press. A New York Times editorial urges the President to focus on democracy, human rights and social justice, and applauds the recent doubling of U.S. aid to the region. Democracy and social justice and a dollop of aid (the current budget of $1.6 billion is barely 1 percent of spending by Latin governments on health and education) are good things.
Nearly every time there is a news story about the billions of dollars flowing to poor countries as remittances, someone worries that not “enough” of that money is being saved and invested. A case in point is today’s piece in the Washington Post. Latin American workers in the US will send home $45 billion this year, but “only a small portion … has gone to economic development.”
Every developed country was once a developing country; every rich country was once poor. In other words, we can relate to the experience of today’s poor countries because we’ve been there, done that. The better we understand what Americans needed back then, the better we will understand what citizens of today’s poor countries need from us now.