Tuesday, April 18, 2006

We need more of this

Now for something completely different -- praise for the LA Times. The Times is in the midst of publishing a richly detailed and absorbing look at small-scale financial remittances from immigrants to their native lands. Richard Boudreaux, Carol J. Williams, Richard C. Paddock and Tracy Wilkinson are the Times staff writers who teamed up for this series.

This is amazing stuff, uncovering how everyday lives on a micro-scale add up to macrotrends. From California to Mexico, Florida to Haiti and beyond, it's a look into worlds that most Times readers probably rarely see.

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Here's a sample from Boudreaux:

Rich countries also are beginning to recognize that lowly migrant workers can help their native countries alleviate poverty. President Bush and leaders of other industrialized nations last year backed a World Bank appeal for lower fees on cash transfers and better investment strategies.

Remittances are getting more attention "because of the failure of previous development mantras," said Devesh Kapur, a University of Texas professor, formerly of Harvard. Unlike development loans or private capital, they come without strings. Because no costly bureaucracy is needed to manage them, bureaucrats cannot squander them.

"The general feeling," Kapur said, "is that this 'private' foreign aid is much more likely to go to the people who really need it."

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This is a refreshing antidote to the fluff-based journalism and obsession with the mighty and celebrities that's often committed in Los Angeles.

By all means, read it.



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