Barbarian Economics and World Vision’s NFL Shirt Donations
Posted on February 12, 2011 at 10:45 am
The following is a guest post by @Bill_Westerly, the imagined alter ego of Bill Easterly. I invited Bill to guest post and offered to help him with his English as his barbarian accent can be difficult to read. If you don’t follow him on twitter, you should.
Hrragh! It is Bill of the West.
Saundra asked me to make a guest post. Also she said she would fix up the writing. Thanks, amazon.
I am just a simple barbarian economist. I just want to know simple things. Simple things that are easy to know.
First thing. What is the total cost of getting these shirts to the recipients. For each shirt. From the time of the field staff writing all those requests to head office to ask for goods. World Vision say only 5% of these requests are ever filled. Good use of field warrior time. Then the cost of receiving the goods. Plus the cost of warehouse space in the warehouse. The cost of shipping overseas. Taxes or tariffs. Then the cost of warehouse overseas. All the time of staff. Plus the cost of the magic coconuts computer that tracks it all. Plus all the trucking to the churches and communities. All of it. Add it all up. Every dollar. Add it all up with your abacus and then we call it $A.
Second thing. What is the true value of the shirt to the poor person. Not the price in the shop in America ($20). That number, it is dung. Not the value the accounting rules say (maybe $8). That number, it is wet and stinking dung. Not the cost to make the shirt and get it to America from China the first time (maybe $4). That number, it is dried-up dung. Not even the cost of a similar shirt in the local used clothing market near the poor person (maybe $2). That number is getting better, but it might also be dung.
So what is the true value of the shirt. It is not saying to a poor person: We have shirts, do you want a shirt, yes or no. That is a stupid question and you will feel my axe. It is the value $B if you ask a poor person: “do you want me to give you $B, or do you want this shirt?” and their answer is “shirt.” It is easy. You can just ask them. That is $B. And $B is what this is all about. World Vision say so. They say they give people some things like shirts, so they have more money left over to spend on other things. On anything they want, like seeds or school fees.
I know very many smart people work at World Vision. Smarter than a barbarian who had too many sword blows to the head. And they have been doing this a long time. I bet they have a big abacus and can add up all the shirts in the whole world. I bet they know the global $A and $B for all the 375,000 shirts and everything else. Or at least they know it for each country they send to. I bet they can tell us next week.
If $A is less than $B, that is good. I will put my axe down. We can start to talk all about impact, and all those other complicated things. But if $B is less than $A, forget all the evaluating. Forget the impact. It is dung. A colossal waste of money. More colossal even than Bill’s world-famous muscular critique. I know. I did not think that was possible either!
If $B is less than $A, they need to invite Bill to come and pillage their warehouse. And burn it to the ground. And burn all the shirts. And then Bill will become World Vision’s new conquering executive-warlord. And there will be a new reign of thunder and terror. Bill will spend the money pillaged from closing the warehouse, to pay a necromancer. Bill’s necromancer will raise a new undead slave-army of fundraisers. To march across the country. To pillage more cash. And then just give the damn cash to the poor people.
To read all the other posts written on this controversy, see Tracking the World Vision / NFL Shirt Donation Controversy.