Jens 'n' Frens
Idle thoughts of a relatively libertarian Republican in Cambridge, MA, and whomever he invites. Mostly political.

"A strong conviction that something must be done is the parent of many bad measures."
  -- Daniel Webster

Wednesday, July 26, 2006 :::

Makiw points to an article on international aid, and I take away something a bit off from what is meant as the main point:
Improving coordination would not be hard, the economists realized. All that was needed was an office or Web site to which everyone could report the names and locations of the villages where they had sent aid and the amounts sent. It would then be easy to build a database with reliable information about where the next consignments should go.

So, with the help of some contacts in the IT industry and some students at Lahore University, they designed a simple form and approached donors with a simple request: whenever you send out a consignment, please fill out one of these. There were paper copies available as well as a Web-based form and a call center.

The reaction, when it was not actually hostile, tended to be derisive: "Are you mad? You to want us to spend time filling out forms when people are dying? We need to go and go fast." Go where? the economists wanted to ask. But nobody seemed to care.
Much of the modern economy is devoted to allocational concerns, and it's easy for this to look like wasted effort, but it can also be made clear, as in this example, how valuable it truly is; an entire economy doing nothing but allocation, of course, would be a catastrophe, but in its place in our economy, finance, business management, and the like make the directly productive work much more valuable.

This doesn't mean I won't gripe about bureaucracy, just that perhaps I shouldn't, at least not so much.

::: posted by dWj at 10:57 PM

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Idle thoughts of a relatively libertarian Republican in Cambridge, MA, and whomever he invites. Mostly political.

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