Final Prep Exercise

I found our discussions on the topic of corruption to be quite interesting. I think that the notion of corruption has this strong stigma in the minds of so many people, and there is an automatic rejection of its possible benefits by the connotation of the word alone. Corruption is a widely misunderstood term that many people throw around without completely understanding, and I enjoyed being able to further examine what government corruption really looks like in practice and see that in some ways, it did give benefits to a larger community than just the corrupt individuals or organizations. Not to say that corruption is overall a good thing, but we do see some benefits stemming from corruption in some areas that seem like they wouldn’t exist otherwise. I think too that corruption is a symptom of a larger problem, and efforts that target the destruction of corruption are missing the bigger picture and because of this have generally been unhelpful in attempting to create any real changes.

Overall my views on poverty in the Global South have changed quite drastically while in this class. It is somewhat worrying to me to consider how much I have learned, and then realize that a majority of voters in the US currently know as much as I did about poverty and aid before I entered this course. It’s because of things like this that I worry for the future of Global South countries. People with money to give to development projects think they are helping just by doing something, so often the projects that are implemented (particularly infrastructure projects) are not helpful or at least aren’t the best use of the money if the goal is to improve the lives of people in that community.

When it comes to the intervention of the Global North countries in an attempt to alleviate poverty in the Global South, it seems to me that most plans and projects fail to make a large impact on the betterment of people’s lives. I can certainly say that I’ve gained a more pessimistic view of the world order while in this class, but unlike many I do not consider this to be a bad thing. People who are convinced they are doing good in an environment where they are not being helpful have the potential to do more harm without realizing it. If you are constantly critical of your own actions, you’re more likely to catch things that aren’t working and try to adjust accordingly.

Historically, poor people have had to suffer in order for nations to develop. The Global North’s efforts are aimed at reducing the human costs of development, and have had varying degrees of success and failure. While we may not know what solves the issue of human suffering during development, I like to believe that even little things that can be done to improve the lives of those in the Global South while encouraging sustainable development in any measure is helpful, especially compared to doing nothing.

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