John Stossel Discovers Corruption

John Stossel of ABC’s 20/20 reports on
governmental corruption in Africa. Christine Gorman of the TIME Blog on Global
Health observes that this is neither a new discovery nor one that should result
in suspending all developmental aid.
(Revised 6:57 a.m., May 20, 2006.)

ABC’s John Stossel on 20/20 reported on governmental corruption in Africa and seemed to close out the possibility of discussing corruption in relation to developmental aid. This is a common analysis and it drew a sharp reaction from Christine Gorman at the TIME Global Health Blog. The message board for the show also has interesting discussion.

If you’ve been in the work of humanitarian aid for any length of time you’ve had to confront corruption and a host of other real and important concerns trying to do the “right thing.” The right thing is sometimes in dispute as well, of course.

But Gorman is on target when she writes, “Life is generally a lot more complex and interesting when you don’t assume you have all the answers.”

I’ve watched as a parade of people with great needs come to bishop’s offices of our denomination in African settings. They come asking for assistance to meet a current emergency. They need a bus ticket to get a loved one to a hospital. They need to bury a family member.

These are small scale, micro-requests, not at all what Stossel was talking about. But the point is, where need is great, life is far more complex than simplistic analysis can perceive. And, as Gorman says, bromides about compassion don’t cut it either. Somewhere between stopping everything because corruption exists and bromides that merely gloss over hard realities lies a middle ground that must be plowed through.

This is where the realities of human suffering meet with the realities of human exploitation. And that is complex and difficult territory. But the final destination is important. How do you get the programs and resources to people who need them, will benefit from them and are in desperate straits right now?

It is much more beneficial figure out how to do this than to report what we already know, namely, that human nature is human nature and sometimes it’s not good.

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