The Self-Appointed Altruists - Part I

Written by Sam Vaknin

Their arrival portends rising local prices and a culture shock. Many of them live in plush apartments, or five star hotels, drive SUV's, sport $3000 laptops and PDA's. They earn a two figure multiple ofrepparttar local average wage. They are busybodies, preachers, critics, do-gooders, and professional altruists.

Always self-appointed, they answer to no constituency. Though unelected and ignorant of local realities, they confrontrepparttar 132508 democratically chosen and those who voted them into office. A few of them are enmeshed in crime and corruption. They arerepparttar 132509 non-governmental organizations, or NGO's.

Some NGO's - like Oxfam, Human Rights Watch, Medecins Sans Frontieres, or Amnesty - genuinely contribute to enhancing welfare, torepparttar 132510 mitigation of hunger,repparttar 132511 furtherance of human and civil rights, orrepparttar 132512 curbing of disease. Others - usually inrepparttar 132513 guise of think tanks and lobby groups - are sometimes ideologically biased, or religiously-committed and, often, atrepparttar 132514 service of special interests.

NGO's - such asrepparttar 132515 International Crisis Group - have openly interfered on behalf ofrepparttar 132516 opposition inrepparttar 132517 recent elections in Macedonia. Other NGO's have done so in Belarus and Ukraine, Zimbabwe and Israel, Nigeria and Thailand, Slovakia and Hungary - and even in Western, rich, countries includingrepparttar 132518 USA, Canada, Germany, and Belgium.

The encroachment on state sovereignty of international law - enshrined in numerous treaties and conventions - allows NGO's to get involved in hitherto strictly domestic affairs like corruption, civil rights,repparttar 132519 composition ofrepparttar 132520 media,repparttar 132521 penal and civil codes, environmental policies, orrepparttar 132522 allocation of economic resources and of natural endowments, such as land and water. No field of government activity is now exempt fromrepparttar 132523 glare of NGO's. They serve as self-appointed witnesses, judges, jury and executioner rolled into one.

Regardless of their persuasion or modus operandi, all NGO's are top heavy with entrenched, well-remunerated, extravagantly-perked bureaucracies. Opacity is typical of NGO's. Amnesty's rules prevent its officials from publicly discussingrepparttar 132524 inner workings ofrepparttar 132525 organization - proposals, debates, opinions - until they have become officially voted into its Mandate. Thus, dissenting views rarely get an open hearing.

Contrary to their teachings,repparttar 132526 financing of NGO's is invariably obscure and their sponsors unknown. The bulk ofrepparttar 132527 income of most non-governmental organizations, evenrepparttar 132528 largest ones, comes from - usually foreign - powers. Many NGO's serve as official contractors for governments.

NGO's serve as long arms of their sponsoring states - gathering intelligence, burnishing their image, and promoting their interests. There is a revolving door betweenrepparttar 132529 staff of NGO's and government bureaucraciesrepparttar 132530 world over. The British Foreign Office finances a host of NGO's - includingrepparttar 132531 fiercely "independent" Global Witness - in troubled spots, such as Angola. Many host governments accuse NGO's of - unwittingly or knowingly - serving as hotbeds of espionage.

Very few NGO's derive some of their income from public contributions and donations. The more substantial NGO's spend one tenth of their budget on PR and solicitation of charity. In a desperate bid to attract international attention, so many of them lied about their projects inrepparttar 132532 Rwanda crisis in 1994, recounts "The Economist", thatrepparttar 132533 Red Cross felt compelled to draw up a ten point mandatory NGO code of ethics. A code of conduct was adopted in 1995. Butrepparttar 132534 phenomenon recurred in Kosovo.

All NGO's claim to be not for profit - yet, many of them possess sizable equity portfolios and abuse their position to increaserepparttar 132535 market share of firms they own. Conflicts of interest and unethical behavior abound.

Cafedirect is a British firm committed to "fair trade" coffee. Oxfam, an NGO, embarked on a campaign targeted at Cafedirect's competitors, accusing them of exploiting growers by paying them a tiny fraction ofrepparttar 132536 retail price ofrepparttar 132537 coffee they sell. Yet, Oxfam owns 25% of Cafedirect.

Large NGO's resemble multinational corporations in structure and operation. They are hierarchical, maintain large media, government lobbying, and PR departments, head-hunt, invest proceeds in professionally-managed portfolios, compete in government tenders, and own a variety of unrelated businesses. The Aga Khan Fund for Economic Development ownsrepparttar 132538 license for second mobile phone operator in Afghanistan - among other businesses. In this respect, NGO's are more like cults than like civic organizations.

And Then There Were Too Many

Written by Sam Vaknin

The latest census in Ukraine revealed an apocalyptic drop of 10% in its population - from 52.5 million a decade ago to a mere 47.5 million last year. Demographers predict a precipitous decline of one third in Russia's impoverished, inebriated, disillusioned, and ageing citizenry. Births in many countries inrepparttar rich, industrialized, West are belowrepparttar 132506 replacement rate. These bastions of conspicuous affluence are shriveling.

Scholars and decision-makers - once terrified byrepparttar 132507 Malthusian dystopia of a "population bomb" - are more sanguine now. Advances in agricultural technology eradicated hunger even in teeming places like India and China. And then there isrepparttar 132508 old idea of progress: birth rates tend to decline with higher education levels and growing incomes. Family planning has had resounding successes in places as diverse as Thailand, China, and western Africa.

Inrepparttar 132509 near past, fecundity used to compensate for infant mortality. Asrepparttar 132510 latter declined - so didrepparttar 132511 former. Children are means of production in many destitute countries. Hencerepparttar 132512 inordinately large families ofrepparttar 132513 past - a form of insurance againstrepparttar 132514 economic outcomes ofrepparttar 132515 inevitable demise of some of one's off-spring.

Yet, despite these trends,repparttar 132516 world's populace is augmented by 80 million people annually. All of them are born torepparttar 132517 younger inhabitants ofrepparttar 132518 more penurious corners ofrepparttar 132519 Earth. There were only 1 billion people alive in 1804. The number doubled a century later.

But our last billion -repparttar 132520 sixth - required only 12 fertile years. The entire population of Germany is added every half a decade to both India and China. Clearly, Mankind's growth is out of control, as affirmed inrepparttar 132521 1994 Cairo International Conference on Population and Development.

Dozens of millions of people regularly starve - many of them to death. In only one corner ofrepparttar 132522 Earth - southern Africa - food aid isrepparttar 132523 sole subsistence of entire countries. More than 18 million people in Zambia, Malawi, and Angola survived on charitable donations in 1992. More than 10 million expectrepparttar 132524 same this year, among themrepparttar 132525 emaciated denizens of erstwhile food exporter, Zimbabwe.

According to Medecins Sans Frontiere, AIDS kills 3 million people a year, Tuberculosis another 2 million. Malaria decimates 2 people every minute. More than 14 million people fall prey to parasitic and infectious diseases every year - 90% of them inrepparttar 132526 developing countries.

Millions emigrate every year in search of a better life. These massive shifts are facilitated by modern modes of transportation. But, despite these tectonic relocations - and despite famine, disease, and war,repparttar 132527 classic Malthusian regulatory mechanisms -repparttar 132528 depletion of natural resources - from arable land to water - is undeniable and gargantuan.

Our pressing environmental issues - global warming, water stress, salinization, desertification, deforestation, pollution, loss of biological diversity - and our ominous social ills - crime atrepparttar 132529 forefront - are traceable to one, politically incorrect, truth:

There are too many of us. We are way too numerous. The population load is unsustainable. We,repparttar 132530 survivors, would be better off if others were to perish. Should population growth continue unabated - we are all doomed.

Doomed to what?

Numerous Cassandras and countless Jeremiads have been falsified by history. With proper governance, scientific research, education, affordable medicines, effective family planning, and economic growth - this planet can support even 10-12 billion people. We are not at risk of physical extinction and never have been.

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