Friday, April 23, 2010

The cost of free food

In what might seem like an unusual step the government of earthquake-stricken Haiti has requested a stop to foreign food aid being provided to local residents.  CBS news explains why.

Of all the things you've heard about earthquake aid to Haiti, here's something you probably didn't know: Haiti's government wants large-scale food assistance and free health care to stop.

If it's news to you, it was to CBS News too, when Katie Couric recently visited Haiti and spoke to Erin Boyd, a nutrition aide for UNICEF. Boyd disagrees with cutting back on aid, but told why it's being done.

"When you continue having a lot of food distributions, you lower the price of food so that people can't trade, and it disrupts markets, basically," Boyd said.

In other words, CBS News correspondent Sharyl Attkisson reports, there may be such a thing as too much help. The public outpouring is so generous it's interfering with the Haitian economy.

If food is free local farmers can't sell what they grow.

The theory of unintended consequences strikes again.

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