Unintended Consequences (#547)

The picture above is of the dying forest where Wayne's father lives. It is the unintended consequences of shutting down the lumber industry 20 years ago allegedly to protect the forest. But the opposite happened. It's a fitting metaphor for what charity is doing to many third-world economies. Sometimes our most well-intentioned actions have devastating impact we do not foresee and would not have chosen. Wayne recently watched a documentary called Poverty, Inc, and it lays out in stark terms how misguided approaches to helping poorer nations can actually make them more impoverished by destroying their local economy. The industry that surrounds world poverty is structured on obsolete premises and yet continues to exist because it benefits third-world warlords, the banking industry, and agri-business in the first world. This is a powerful movie that will change how you view poverty and failed government and charity polices. We need to empower people in poverty to employ their own creativity to building an economy, rather than use their need to line our own pockets. Perhaps unadvisedly at the end the wade into the current political climate of the U.S.

Podcast Notes:
Wayne's blog on Your Help is Hurting
You can view Poverty, Inc at Netflix and read more about the people behind it here.
There are still a few more slots available if you want to join Brad and Wayne on their Trip to Israel
You can find our latest update on our work in Kenya here.
Add your voice to our question/comment line via Skype at "TheGodJourney"


  1. Good stuff to ponder gentlemen, but also a bit of irony coming with an “ad” for an expensive vacation to Israel? Money better spent to fund “microloans” for those seeking to find their own way out of poverty. Just saying . . .

  2. The forest around Red River area in Idaho has well over a million acres, and still growing, of standing dead timber due to the Forest Service allowing a pine beetle infestation to continue since the early 1970’s. When it catches it will be another “big burn” like the fire so named from 1910.

  3. Another example of unintended consequences…President Obama’s overtime law, which raises the salary at which overtime will be paid. What Obama sees as restoring a work-life balance, is, in fact, de-incentivizing workers who don’t have the desire or drive to work 24/7 for their respective company. And thus, the beginnings of a new welfare state for another class of people formerly known as the middle class.

    You see people like Bono and Brad Pitt go into these impoverished areas simply looking to be idolized. Like you say Wayne, the real help comes from teaching fishing, not giving fish. Brad, your story about the corncob nearly brought me to tears. The grace bestowed on those four kids by God is astounding.

  4. FYI, the exact quote from Chapter 6 of Machiavelli’s “The Prince” (published 1532) is slightly different in meaning and intent than how it was paraphrased in Poverty, Inc.:
    “And it ought to be remembered that there is nothing more difficult to take in hand, more perilous to conduct,
    or more uncertain in its success, then to take the lead in the introduction of a new order of things. Because the innovator has for enemies all those who have done well under the old conditions, and lukewarm defenders in those who may do well under the new. This coolness arises partly from fear of the opponents, who have the laws
    on their side, and partly from the incredulity of men, who do not readily believe in new things until they have had a long experience of them.”

  5. Interesting discussion. It reminds me of much that is written on the real effectiveness of short term missionary experiences, as relates to the receivers of these efforts. Much is wasted on making sure the short term missionaries being accommodated to a level acceptable to them so that can return having had a “deep and meaningful experience that allegedly results in understanding the realities of third world conditions”. Really?

    I was also thinking how the spiritually starving of the west are appeased in institutional churches (most easily observed in health and wealth mega churches) by leaders that are followed and “made successes”. (yuck!)
    I won’t go as far as drawing direct comparisons to “war lords and corporate elite”, but if the shoe fits?…..

    The sorrow is in the fact that Jesus is not seen as relationally available where in we have eternal life through knowing him and learn to trust him as he transforms us. Instead we get the “food of men”, supposedly for free, but pay dearly, albeit most often unknowingly (just another well disguised deception).

    My apologies if that was too negative…….

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