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West’s short-sighted policies have worsened poverty – Moyo

INTERNATIONAL economist Dambisa Moyo says short-sighted policies coming from the West have created more impoverished people around the world and fed into issues of political instability.

In a far-reaching interview with Al Jazeera English’s ‘Head to Head’ programme, Moyo argued that there were major problems with Western democracy today.

“The notion that democracy is not a problem is mad, it’s crazy,” Moyo said.

Discussing why she believed liberal democracy was “under siege”, Moyo asserted that today’s populism has its roots in economics, describing how real wages have come down…and that over the past 30 years, social mobility has declined and income inequality has widened.

She blamed short-termist Western policies, such as farm subsidies in the US and Europe’s Common Agricultural Policy, for locking out the goods that are produced in places like Africa and South America which has led to more impoverished people and fed into issues of political instability.

A former Goldman Sachs banker, Moyo was asked whether the company had a particular role for the 2008 financial crisis, but she said it had no special responsibility for what took place and that we all have to take responsibility.

Al Jazeera stated that Goldman Sachs agreed to pay US$5.1bn in fines in January 2016, following an investigation by the US Department of Justice for its role in the crisis.

On reforming democracy, Moyo argued that citizens should have to take a test in order to vote and that people must have a good knowledge of what exactly they’re voting on before being allowed to vote.

In her new book ‘Edge of Chaos, Why Democracy is Failing to Deliver Economic Growth – and how to fix it’, Moyo proposed a system of weighted voting where some individuals have more voting power than others.

When defending her proposal, which presenter Mehdi Hasan suggested was elitist and would actually help populism, Moyo asserted that her idea was based on participation, not on education” and that a degree of weighted voting already existed around the world.

Speaking about China and its economic model, Moyo commented on how over 300 million people have been moved out of poverty in 30 years and that the West should be careful not to “point fingers” when commenting on the country’s democratic record which was on its own particular “path”.

Addressing a question on the benefits of China’s economic model, Moyo noted how Chinese politicians do not need to seduce today’s voter in order to remain in political office in comparison to the US, where there is a mismatch between long-term economic challenges and short-termism in the political system.

Moyo first made waves with her book ‘Dead Aid’, in which she argued that rather than alleviating poverty in Africa, aid was actually preserving it.

Asked whether she believed aid has had any beneficial effects, the economist described its “corrosive nature” on “democracy on the African continent.”

“We do want to be able to hold our governments accountable but we can’t do that if actually Oxfam is going to solve the health care problem, somebody else is going to solve education, how are we able to hold our governments accountable from a public policy stance if they are not the ones who are delivering these outcomes?”

The best-selling author argued that whilst she accepted that there have been “significant wins” across Africa, “the notion that those are because of aid…is wrong.”

Moyo pointed out that China has played a hugely significant role on the continent: “We’ve had China come in, there’s been significant investment…we’re able to trade with the Chinese, for better or for worse.”

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