“Copenhagen Consensus:” Help the Tired, Poor, and Dispossessed to Stay Home

Are
there more cost-effective methods of helping Third World
countries—and thus reducing

emigration
—than invading and occupying them?

The
President is investing a few hundred billion dollars in
the Iraq War with the laudable intention of making the
Middle East a better place. But the Iraqis don`t seem to
appreciate his efforts. We`ve spent about $100 million
on Mr.

Ahmed Chalabi
alone, but even that doesn`t appear to
have been sufficient to keep him from betraying American
secrets to the Iranians.

I hope
Mesopotamian cuisine is appetizing. Probably all we`ll
get out of Mr. Bush`s expenditures is a lot of

restaurants
run by

Iraqi refugees.


Bjorn Lomborg,
the ambitious statistician who wrote
the

The Skeptical Environmentalist
, recently
convened a panel of leading economists (such as Nobel
Laureate economic historian

Robert Fogel
) to evaluate the cost-effectiveness of
plans for helping the developing world. In this, Lomborg
has the backing of

The Economist
magazine.

(Incidentally,

I`m pleased to report
that The Economist has
won back some of my respect by running a retraction of
that phony IQ-by-state table "So
Democrats Really Are Smarter
"
they printed in
their May 15th issue. The editors

mea culpaed
: "Alas, we
were the victims of a

hoax
: no such data exists.")

Lomborg rather pretentiously
calls his conference the "Copenhagen
Consensus
." Perhaps he hopes that some prestige will
rub off from the famous 1927 consensus on quantum
mechanics known as the

Copenhagen Interpretation
. Nonetheless, it`s a
worthy effort and the panel`s evaluation of the

17 proposals
—ranking them from “Very Good” to
“Bad”—seems reasonable.

The economists found that the
most cost-effective undertaking would be, not
surprisingly,

But the runner-up in bang for
the buck:

For years, the heavyweight IQ researchers associated
with the much-reviled

Pioneer Fund
,
such as Hans Eysenck,

Arthur Jensen
, Richard Lynn, and

J.P. Rushton,
have pointed out that Third World
countries` average IQs could benefit from the food
fortification programs—things like putting

iron in flour
and

iodine in salt,
which began in First World

generations ago
. But almost no one paid attention
until a UN report endorsed this view earlier this year.

A

paper
presented at the Copenhagen conference concurs
with the Pioneer position, noting that

"deficiencies in

micro-nutrients
can have a major impact on
development of intelligence. Lack of both iodine and
iron has been implicated in impaired brain development,
and this can affect enormous numbers of people: it is
estimated that 2 billion people (one-third of the total
global population) are affected by iodine deficiency,
including 285 million 6 to 12 year-old children…
[L]ack
of iodine in childhood reduces brain development: a
study has shown, for example, that iodine-deficient
individuals score an average of 13.5 points lower in IQ
tests."

Micronutrient assistance won`t make Lagos into Palo
Alto. But it could narrow the 15 point gap in average IQ
between Africans and their African-American cousins. 

Third
on the Copenhagen list:

The
European Union is the

worst offender
at keeping out Third World farm
products while lavishing taxpayer money on supporting
high cost European farmers. But the U.S. is guilty of
this too. Florida`s notorious

Fanjul family
cajoles Congressional recipients of
their campaign donations into imposing import quotas
that keep the price of sugar three times higher here
than on the world market.

Since
Americans aren`t allowed to import sugar from poor
Caribbean nations, the

Fanjuls import Caribbean migrant workers
to cut cane
on their American plantations—which, in turn, pollute
the Everglades.

These
immigrant workers would be better off back home with
their families growing sugar on their own islands.

The
fourth and last of the "Very Good" programs on the
Copenhagen list:


  • “control of malaria" through rather inexpensive steps
    like giving DDT-dusted mosquito nets to Africans. One
    big reason for the terrible productivity of
    tropic-dwellers is that so many are sick at any one
    time.

Way
down in 14th place, and categorized as "Bad," is


  • "guest-worker programs for the unskilled."

With
four to five billion relatively poor people in the
world, it`s unrealistic to think that immigration to the
West could ever do much for the bulk of them. The
Copenhagen economists think it makes more sense for us
to help Third World peasants stay down on the farm
growing crops for us.

In
10th place, ranked only among the "Fair" ideas:


  • "lowering barriers to migration for skilled workers.”

Even
this is too generous. It`s a little hard to understand
how

brain-draining
the smartest people from poor
countries makes the folks left behind better off.

For
example, when a Zambian with, say, the desperately
needed skills to run a hospital in his home country
emigrates to America and becomes a dermatologist in
Marin County, it`s not clear that Zambia, or the human
race as a whole, is the winner.

Still,
Lomborg should be credited with a useful attempt to
focus attention on cost-effective ways to help our
fellow human beings … and ourselves.


[Steve Sailer [email
him] is founder of the Human Biodiversity Institute and


movie critic
for


The American Conservative
.
His website


www.iSteve.blogspot.com
features his daily
blog.]