Why do humanitarian efforts often fail?
Christopher Coyne, the director of Graduate Studies of the department of economics at George Mason University, outlined Monday some reasons why the best intentions of people and national leaders often prove to be unsustainable.
Coyne spoke to Radford University students Monday morning and again at the College of Business and Economics' (COBE) Global Capitalism Distinguished Speaker Series luncheon in the afternoon in the COBE Buildings. The annual event was sponsored by BB&T and the Charles Koch Foundation.
In his lecture, Coyne provided an overview of some of the key themes in his new book, "Doing Bad by Doing Good: Why Humanitarian Action Fails." In both lectures Monday, the professor defined humanitarian action and its limits and talked about the "political economy" involved in humanitarian action. He offered suggestions about how to help "people domestically and abroad that are in need."
Coyne said there are two things the United States can do to alleviate much of the world's suffering. "Option 1," he said, "reduce trade barriers." His second option was migration. "Allow people to move; lower migration barriers," Coyne said. "Allowing people to move is one of the easiest ways to alleviate poverty."
According to COBE Interim Dean Dennis Grady, "The purpose of the BB&T speaker series is to bring viewpoints to campus that might not otherwise be entertained in the conventional wisdom of the day. Professor Coyne’s analysis of the problems associated with humanitarian assistance certainly falls into that category and left much room for reflection that I hope migrates into classroom discussions across our curriculum."
Coyne is an associate professor of economics and F.A. Harper professor of economics at the Mercatus Center at George Mason. He also is the North American editor of "The Review of Austrian Economics." In 2008, Coyne was named the Hayek Fellow at the London School of Economics and in 2010 he was a visiting scholar at the Social Philosophy & Policy Center at Bowling Green State University.