Wednesday, July 13, 2005

Welfare mentality

Yesterday I was reading a milblog from a soldier in Iraq, where he was mentioning the welfare mentality of certain groups in Iraq:

As I have stated before, there is still very much a welfare mentality here. The discussion largely revolved around "we need this or that" and "how can you help us with this or that situation." After 30 years of Saddam's regime a majority of the people do not know how to take initiative to solve their own problems. This is why it is so crucial that we continually hand more and more responsibility to the Iraqi people so they can learn to look to themselves to develop solutions. I believe it will take an entire generation before there is real change in the general population. I fear most of the current adult generation are too set in their ways. However I have hope that the younger generation, with the proper influences, will grow to be more independent and productive.

This reminded me of a conversation I had with A., my "host mom" in France. Last week before the funeral we were talking about what she was going to do now. This winter she already spent 6 weeks in Niger helping a nomadic tribe with medical aid. But she said she came back very disenchanted with it all, saying that she felt that the tribe she was living in thought that begging was viable, and she found that they didn't work hard enough in their gardens to produce food. She was pretty angry about the whole situation when she returned, and said, although she pities them, she doesn't have such a good view of humanitarian aid anymore.

She will be returning in November, and she says that now that she is widowed she will have more time to invest in such ventures. However, she was angry with the governments, saying that because Western countries picked up the slack, there was no incentive for the local leaders to do anything. And that we aren't really doing them a favor by helping them so much. And this is something coming from an adamant socialist, not just another conservative being greedy, as is often accused when someone takes such a position.

My boyfriend feels pretty much the same about the humanitarian aid they are distributing in Afghanistan. It will all mean nothing, if the new government can't step up to the plate.

This article in the Spiegel was a breath of fresh air, and I hope that there will be more of a movement towards help through self-help in first-world countries treatment of Africa:

"For God's Sake, Please Stop the Aid!"

The Kenyan economics expert James Shikwati, 35, says that aid to Africa does more harm than good. The avid proponent of globalization spoke with SPIEGEL about the disastrous effects of Western development policy in Africa, corrupt rulers, and the tendency to overstate the AIDS problem.


Blogger Chris said...

I gotta agree with you here, especially about Iraq.

Iraq has an entire generation used to things being done for them. Granted, they've never had luxuries furnished to them, at least not the working class, but Iraqis are used to having the necessities supplied to them. Some do call them lazy, which isn't entirely correct, and my limited experience with people from Iraq is that they expect someone else to figure it out for them. Not entirely lazy, but not a lot of initiative either.

I totally agree that it will take an entire generation before a change will be noticed in Iraq. And certainly bombs will do nothing to hurry the process along.

Good post.

7:39 PM  

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