He enviado un correo a William Easterly y Laura Freschi, del blog Aid Watch sobre desarrollo y ayuda humanitaria, a propósito de un argumento que me parece equivocado y suele esgrimirse en contra de campañas como la de 1 Millón de Camisetas (que por lo demás critiqué en este artículo para Libertad Digital):
Dear Laura and William,
I would very much like to know your opinion about a quibble I have with the post regarding the 1MillionShirts campaign: http://aidwatchers.com/2010/04/a-suggestion-for-the-1millionshirts-guys/
I have trouble making sense of this argument:
cheap donated clothes flood local markets, undercutting local textile industries.
In other words (as other critics have put it): donated clothes bankrupt local businesses and leave the local population worse off.
However, this looks a lot like the lump of labour fallacy to me. Are not consumers better off if they get clothes for free instead of having to pay for them? Can not the producers switch to a different industry, producing other stuff that is also needed?
If cheap clothes damage the local economy in Africa, why is it different in Western economies when they get cheap imported food or clothes from other countries? Is this an indictment of free trade? Usually free traders would reply: actually, cheap imported goods benefit consumers, who now can save more or consume more in other lines of production, and resources previously employed in producing those goods locally are free up to be employed in other lines of production. Why does this reasoning not apply to Africa?
To sum up: I think that argument is bad economics, or is not properly laid out.
I would very much appreciate a comment on this (or please be so kind to point me to a relevant post that I've missed)
Keep it up, the blog is great
Easterly me ha contestado diciéndome que está preparando un artículo que responderá a esta cuestión, aplicando teoría del libre comercio al tema de la ayuda humanitaria. Habrá que estar atentos a su blog.