‘Poverty, Inc.’ filmmaker discusses impact of foreign aid industry

Filmmaker Michael Matheson Miller hosted a discussion with Sara Sievers, Keough School of Global Affairs associate dean for policy and practice, following a showing of his critically acclaimed 2014 documentary “Poverty, Inc.” on Thursday night.

In the film, Miller argues that the current system of development, which originated during the reconstruction of Europe following World War II, is broken. The film cites examples to show how donor governments have profited off of foreign aid and hindered the prosperity of underdeveloped nations.

“We take this neocolonialist approach, we take money from them and then we congratulate ourselves,” Miller said. “We knew we were giving money to bad guys and we knew they were abusing it and then we were making people pay them back.”

Miller said aid programs cannot help people prosper because the lack of rights is the more pressing problem.

“They are not poor primarily because they lack stuff, they are poor because they are excluded by the institutions of justice,” Miller said. “The legal system is simply unfair to poor people. Aid creates incentives for the government to not build institutions of justice and access to private property. The main point is that foreign aid politicizes development.”

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Originally published The Observer at ndsmcobserver.com on February 10, 2017.