Fareed Zakaria speaks with Helene Gayle, president of CARE USA, and Bill Easterly, professor of economics at New York University, about whether foreign aid is effective. Some excerpts:
The context here is Bill Gates did his annual letter in which he argued that our foreign aid has been astonishingly effective and that people should stop attacking it. One of the people who has attacked it and whom Gates mentions by name often when he makes this point is Bill Easterly. So, Bill, what is your response to Gates’ basic argument?
Easterly: Well, you know what sends me at the moment is that foreign aid is really on the wrong side of the debate that we see going on right now in the world between freedom and autocracy. And we see, too often, the aid agencies and the philanthropists, like even Mr. Gates himself, siding with the autocrats in many poor countries against the poor people who are rising up, seeking their own freedom.
Gayle: I think the case has been made that aid is very effective and that being able to provide resources in the right way makes a difference. It saves lives. It educates children. It helps to feed people. And I think we know that, for instance, rates of poverty have decreased dramatically over the last decades. And so I think the numbers are there that show that, clearly, aid has made a difference. I think the debate is really around how can we make aid more effective.