Friday, May 31, 2002

So, it would appear that the echo chamber has once again decided that Krugman=bad. Hoystory is just the first one I've visited so far, but he's already jumped on Paul for defending the WHO when it it's obviously a cesspool of governmental waste. Let's see...

The difference between contributing through taxes and through a charitable organization is a "donor" has more say in where the money goes and how it is used. The WHO uses more than one third of its budget at its headquarters (see Page 12). [Link requires Adobe Acrobat]. One can safely assume that those costs are administrative. You can also assume that some small portion of the costs for the other geographic areas is administrative.

Compare that to the American Institute of Philanthropy's guidelines for charitable organizations:

Percent Spent on Charitable Purpose
This is the portion of total expenses that is spent on charitable programs. In AIP?s view, 60% or greater is reasonable for most charities. The remaining percentage is spent on fundraising and general administration.

That 60 percent figure takes into account the fact that, unlike the WTO, most charities also spend money on fundraising campaigns. The WTO just lobbies governments. A generous look at the WTO's numbers suggests that if they were a charity, their administrative costs may be reasonable -- but not necessarily good. (For a list of charities that fare better look here.)

Well, Hoy, you mixed up the WTO and WHO there, and seem to have missed that according to the guideline you just cited, the WHO's budgeting for administration comes under the 40% allowable under the AIP's guidelines. This is especially important considering that the WHO is an administrative body; or did you think that the sort of intergovernmental work that any enterprise of this sort entails is done for free? The WHO does a fair bit of research; does it not make sense that the research would be done at headquarters?

I'll agree that there is only a tenuous connection between the estate tax and the WHO's request for more foreign aid, but Krugman is (obviously) trying to illustrate a point; that there is a trend in the United States, especially in the executive branch, towards cutting taxes for the wealthy and cutting benefits for the poor. The estate tax and the WHO are simply the most egregious examples of such; the farm bill is certainly another valid example.

I don't see exactly why Hoy thinks that Krugman is republican-bashing, though. He seems to be handing out plenty of blame for all; saying that his mockery of the term "compassionate conservatives" implies that he's simply Republican bashing assumes that only Republicans are conservative. That is, of course, absurd.

One other point, illustrated by a quotation Hoy used from the New York Times:

During a visit to a well in Wakiso, an area outside of Uganda's capital, Kampala, the Treasury secretary emphasized how cheaply the well had been built, noting that it cost $1,000 and provided clean water to more than 400 people. Using "back-of-the-envelope arithmetic," he said, he and Uganda's central bank governor had calculated the night before that wells serving all of the nation's people could be drilled for about $25 million. He questioned why it couldn't be done within a year.

"Last year the World Bank lent $300 million to Uganda," he said later in the day to a university audience. "What was so important that there wasn't $25 million to $30 million to give everyone in Uganda clean water? Where did the money go?"

This actually supports and illustrates Bono's real agenda. Where did the money go? I can't say for sure, but I can probably guess: arms, administration, and interest payments. Big, fat, lucrative interest payments. Bono's big cause is debt forgiveness, and this fits example actually fits in quite nicely. I can't say for sure, obviously, but neither can Hoy. His assumption that "much of the money that is targeted for aid is gobbled up by bureaucracy at some international aid agencies, and, when the money finally arrives in a country it is often stolen by government officials who use it to live a life of luxury while their people die" is really popular among the right-wingers who like to think that absolutely no foreign aid ever gets to whomever it's directed at, but is utterly unprovable unless he has access to the Ugandan budget and all the foreign aid organizations working there. I find this unlikely.

I have no doubt that other parts of the echo chamber are saying much the same thing, but I'm not about to spend the entire day rebutting each and every one. I'll leave it at Hoy. At least he didn't use the silly "line 47" thing again.

Update: Apparently, I have reading comprehension problems. Anybody who wants to toddle on over and check out what I wrote in his comments section is welcome to do so and respond here. Did I go overboard about Hoy? Did I mess up citation? Am I a liberal commie pinko bastard who should be arrested for treason and made to run through the streets naked whilst being stabbed repeatedly by lovely laudable laughing libertarians?

By all means, let me know.

(Edit: That quote wasn't from Krugman, it was from a different article that Hoy was using to illustrate his point. Fair 'nuff; it is changed)

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