Towards A Good Samaritan World

Saturday, June 25, 2005


The World Bank is a magnificent organization in search of a raison d'etre.

All right, few will agree with that: the World Bank proclaims a grandiose mission: "Our dream is a world free of poverty."

But that's more of a hope than a task. How can you lift billions of people out of poverty? Whatever the answer, it isn't the one that the Bank was postulated on. Friedrich Erixon's attack on the entire aid industry is mostly a rehash for someone who studied development. The World Bank began with the theory that poor countries suffered from a shortage of capital, so a bank could loan them money and spur economic growth. That was baloney, and everyone acknowledges it now, yet the organization keeps on running, adjusting and enlarging its mission.

That's just fine. A lot of organizations find valuable roles different from thsoe they began with. But in the case of the Bank, the question is whether it can do any good at all. What market failure does it supply? Moving money doesn't help. What's needed are good institutions and policies, but those are hard to cultivate, and why should the Bank be better than local governments at developing them?

My idea is a new kind of loan conditionality: provide lots of money in return for more open immigration policies...

Hmm, my wife's calling me. I'll get back to this idea later, it's interesting. (Comment freely if so inclined...)


  • Huh? As you know, the Bank provides loans to developing countries which, for the most part, are the source of migration, and have very liberal attitudes toward migration. Migration restrictions (at the least the ones that matter) are the province of the Bank's donors and Bank staff tend to get into trouble when they try and tell the donors what to do.

    By Anonymous Andrew, at 11:16 AM  

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