When Doing Nothing Equals Increased Aid

Nice dialogue going on here with the blog that is the scourge of wicked human rights violators everywhere, Wronging Rights (a blog that is also wickedly funny). Among other things, I worried that one of the posts on Mahmood Mamdani by Amanda Taub might be using the classic way to attack critics of infeasible, utopian schemes everywhere, which is to demand that the critic come up with their own utopian scheme to solve all problems. Amanda came back with a complete disavowal of any such intention:

So, anyway: here at Amanda HQ you'll find a wholehearted embrace of doing nothing, when all of the proposed somethings to do are crummy. If a proposed policy doesn't pass my "is enacting this policy more likely to reduce suffering and end conflict than staying in to watch Love Actually again?" test, then I for one would vote for movie night.

Sorry, Amanda, I should never have doubted you – you have got it completely right (except could The Godfather be another option?)

It’s amazing how many politicians fail Amanda’s Love Actually Test. Suppose there is a terrible problem and there are only two options:

(A) Do nothing.

(B) Do something to make the problem worse.

All politicians choose (B) of course! Two random current examples are: (1) Run a “War on Drugs” to subsidize violent criminals and destabilize Colombia, Mexico, and Harlem, (2) drop bombs to kill innocent civilians so as to help terrorism recruiters and destabilize Afghanistan, Pakistan, and Queens. I am sure faithful readers can come up with more.

Here’s a brainstorm. Doing something to make things worse, that is equal to negative aid. If you change from doing something bad to doing nothing, that is equal to a decrease in negative aid. A decrease in negative aid is equal to an increase in positive aid. Therefore, doing nothing = positive aid. QED.

Hey politicians, here is a way to increase aid, get results, at reduced costs! Buy now while supplies last! Just go over to Amanda’s and watch Love Actually!