David Frum on Reducing Poverty in Africa

Frum argues that Africa does not need financial assistance but might benefit from free trade within the Western Hemisphere:

African aid relief is the same. Jeffrey Sachs may imagine that he knows how much it will cost to pull Africa from poverty, but almost nobody outside the UN apparatus and the world of pop culture believes him … Meanwhile, there is something practical that can immediately be done to fight poverty right on America’s doorstep: Pass the embattled Central American Free Trade Initiative through Congress. But because CAFTA is premised on the unglamorous idea that poverty will be defeated by work and trade, not guilt-induced donations, none of its advocates have ever picked up a guitar in their life.

Who to believe – “an internationally renowned economist” (Frum’s words) – or someone who confuses Latin America with Africa? OK – Frum’s concern seems to be poverty in Latin America but free trade is not a sufficient condition for addressing abject poverty. If Frum spent less time criticizing Sachs and more time actually reading what Sachs has written, maybe he’d understand. And yes, $0.7 billion in new U.S. aid is a far cry from sufficient or being generous.