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IPFS News Link • Economy - International

Stop Giving Chickens Away, Bill Gates

• Ron Paul Institute - Peter Van Buren

Bolivia to Bill Gates: Go to Hell and Take Your Chickens with You

The billionaire recently sought to donate 100,000 chickens to impoverished countries. The leftist government of Bolivia, one of the nations to receive the poultry, refused the donation, describing Gates' gift as "offensive."

"He does not know Bolivia's reality to think we are living 500 years ago, in the middle of the jungle not knowing how to produce," said Bolivia's minister of land and rural development. "Respectfully, he should stop talking about Bolivia, and once he knows more, apologize to us."

Coop Dreams

Gates announced the chicken initiative — dubbed [Honestly, I am not making this up] "Coop Dreams" — earlier this month.

"It's pretty clear to me that just about anyone who's living in extreme poverty is better off if they have chickens," wrote Gates, who was born in a middle class suburb and has pretty much been one of the One Percent ever since. "In fact, if I were in their shoes, that's what I would do — I would raise chickens." He says that the animals are easy and inexpensive to raise, empower women ("because chickens are small and stay close to home"), and can help feed children in poor families.

Melinda Gates also likes chickens and women. She calls chickens "the ATM of the poor," because they are easy to sell on short notice to cover day-to-day expenses.

What's Wrong with Free Stuff?

So Bolivia aside, what could be wrong with free chickens?

— All countries have some sort of market economy going on. Farmers raise animals, and sell them to local people. In places without a lot of electricity and transportation, this all functions at a micro-level. There is a relationship between the economic needs and capacities of the farmer and how much food the local people want to buy. If you dump lots of free chicken into that system, the system tends to collapse. Prices can go up if people get greedy and push food out of the budgets of many, or go down because supply exceeds demand, and that can drive farmers out of business.

— The bit about "empowering women" by having them raise chickens can have the same effect as above, basically adding lots more producers into a closed system and hoping everything does not go to hell. It also ignores the question of what else those women might have to do, how many know anything about raising chickens, have space to do it and have the money needed to buy feed, veterinary services, whatever chicken raisers need.

— If the woman ends up with more chicken than her family needs, how is she to market it? Does she have access to transportation? Is there a dealer network? Most markets in the developing world are closed systems; one does not simply wander in and set up a stall.

— If a large number of women, or anybody, are raising chickens, why would others need to buy chickens? Wouldn't they be raising their own?

— When people come to believe someone from the outside will randomly show up with free stuff, they tend to stop working very hard and just wait for the next shipment. Until it doesn't come and then pretty much their world collapses.

3 Comments in Response to

Comment by foundZero
Entered on:

Interesting. When I worked in international relief I worked to establish "verifiable benefits" to people being served by our programs. Another group was working to determine exactly what % of your donations went directly to people with the goal of making that % 80 or better. Our motto was "80% verifiable results and no free chickens". Seriously it was actually a (bad) joke that some program coordinators considered the gift of a chicken to be a "significant or life-changing benefit". Heck if the people just got a mating pair of chickens that might actually develop into something but a single chicken? So we eliminated this as a criterion for success. Now Bill Gates brings the chickens right back into the picture.

Comment by Charlie Patton
Entered on:

If Bill Gates get tired of chickens, he can always buy some slaves just to free them. http://www.theatlantic.com/past/docs/issues/99jul/9907sudanslaves2.htm

Comment by Kobie Nel
Entered on:

Let me bet. Al the so called "praise" come from the rest of the "elite group" and get slapped all over for every standard person to see and hear. Tomorrow, another member of the "elite group" do something "nice" and the "praise" get dished out again all over the show. What it boils down too, is that the "elite club" play little games and every member of the public believe they are the best thing since white bread.... And the "elite club" have a lot of snickers about how easy it is to play the sheeple.