Saturday, September 01, 2007

Double Take

'Clowns Without Borders' group uses laughter to uplift poor Haitians
I was originally going to post this with a note saying that while it's definitely on the "good" side of the ledger, it's also nearly completely useless. Are CLOWNS what Haiti (and Sierra Leone, the Palestinian territories, and the Balkans) really need ?!?

But then I realized that the countless U.S., UN, Doctors Without Borders, and who-knows-what-all alphabet-soup agency missions have failed to bring lasting improvement to Haiti, Sierra Leone, or the Palestinians, so maybe it's not so absurd to send in the clowns. It's a surreal French film, come to life.


Blogger erp said...

Why not real clowns? They've had their share of the other kind. One tiny correction, Haiti is still recovering from being a former French colony, Aristide, darling of the Clintonistas, being only the most recent in a long line of cruel despots.

September 01, 2007 6:40 AM  
Blogger Harry Eagar said...

One story I did not report in my column was that when donations were solicited for the homeless after a big earthquake in Pakistan, a local business contributed some thousands of Maui Monkee dolls.

No telling how many desperate Pakistanis converted to radical Islam after opening a box, hoping for flour or a blanket from America, and getting an unsaleable doll. (Particularly a monkey doll, as I believe Muslims do not find monkeys as cute as we do.)

(Another of the many reasons I am not as enamoured of the free market as some of you.)

September 01, 2007 11:07 AM  
Blogger erp said...

Harry, I'm confused. Please explain what giving monkey dolls to people in great distress has to do with free markets unless you mean to make the point that free markets allow for big mistakes like thinking monkey dolls would be big sellers anywhere and giving them away would be a tax write-off?

That would be fraud, not free trade.

September 01, 2007 1:32 PM  
Blogger Oroborous said...

I sure hope that the aid agencies were smart enough not to send Maui Monkees alone, without being accompanied by food and other essentials.

But it is a macabrely funny image, a desperate earthquake victim hoping for relief, but getting a stuffed animal instead.

September 01, 2007 1:56 PM  
Blogger Harry Eagar said...

One reason I did not report it in my column was that I don't know for sure that the aid agencies in Pakistan did give out the dolls.

I know they were 'donated' on Maui and shipped from Honolulu.

I had an exchange with a Wall Street Journal reporter in Pakistan, who said he hadn't seen the dolls.

So what's it got to do with free markets? Well, I really can't figure out how it could happen under any other form of economic organization. Caveat emptor and all that.

And, yes, there's a hell of a lot of fraud in the misery industry.

September 01, 2007 2:59 PM  

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