Wednesday, June 1, 2011

We all miss Peter Bauer

This blog's views on international aid are known to all its readers and go back further than two weeks ago when Melanie Phillips, apparently, pronounced very similar opinions on Question Time. All of us who have seen the futility and, indeed, harmfulness, of international aid (formerly known as foreign aid) have been influenced by the pithy and lucid arguments advanced for many years (to no purpose, in his own view) by Peter Bauer, later Lord Bauer.

Here Tim Knox, Acting Director of the Centre for Policy Studies, reminisces about the great man and insists that his arguments are more valid now than ever before. I always found Lord Bauer's heavily accented pronouncements perfectly intelligible but, maybe, I have more experience of accents than Mr Knox does.


  1. Thanks for this post and the link to Tim Knox's story. It was also very rewarding to follow his links back to the Independent's 1999 story: "Its first 100 days were rocky, but the euro's in rude health". Oh my!
    Again, I find myself wallowing in schadenfreude. It is particularly delicious to me because my memory is badly failing, yet when I open such links I remember my thoughts on reading those stories as if they were yesterday: "Come back in 10 years and say that!" OK, it has taken maybe 12 years and I can hang on a little while longer if needs must.
    (And I immediately knew what Lord Bauer meant by "svansunk", though that may be because I spent most of my life working with "furriners". lol. I was always quite a good mimic and I vividly remember phoning a competitor's office from a phone booth* and saying in a very authoratative manner: "''Allo! Dis is de Kapitan of the 'Falketen'! I think you hef my fountain pen left in your office! Please return it to my ship before we sail in two hours! Thank you!" Then I hung up and went and watched the ensuing circus in our rival's offices.)
    *Phone booths/telephone kiosks: As I wander the streets today and see almost every other person deeply involved in a "phone call" with a mobile phone clamped to their ear, I cast my mind back and wonder why there were never, ever huge queues outside of kiosks? I only ever recall maybe two or three people patiently waiting to get on the phone.
    Maybe that's enough rambling ...

  2. I remember reading P T Bauer in the 1970s (probably his "Dissent on Development") and thinking wow (it was the 1970s) this is spot on.

    As for DfID - it should be scrapped and instead we should start dealing fairly with third world states - like not dumping our (EU) goods, stealing their fish, and propping up their dictators.