The Wild West ... the outback ... The new world of the 1800s was a time of true liberty. People stood on their own merits. They won or they lost and they reaped the rewards or swallowed the consequences. There were no cubicle dwelling civil servants hell bent on saving you from yourself. No planning permits no licenses no permissions no heritage overlay no bylaw no regulators no inspectors. And guess what ... it worked

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Sunday, June 7, 2009

Foreign affairs submission 7586 (Lone Ranger)

I was not going to add another submission today, but this was so bizarre that I could not help myself.

Support all breastfeeding initiatives worldwide to help alleviate poverty

Foreign aid (in emergency situations and otherwise) should not include provision of infant formula - this undermines mothers' breastfeeding confidence. Third world countries view provision of infant formula as condoning its use (when, in fact, it's usually unnecessary).

Implement the WHO Code. The International Code of Marketing of Breastmilk Substitutes was adopted by the World Health Assembly in 1981 as a "minimum requirement" to protect infant health and is to be implemented "in its entirety."

This is what we call a breast-driven approach to foreign relations. It is an exciting prospect that the new ambassador to Beijing would use his presentation of credentials to talk about breast feeding. Want to resolve the problems of the Middle East? Get their women to whip out their breasts more often and feed those kiddies. Stop worrying about global development issues – if only more women would breast feed, poverty would become history.

A lot of women in Africa breast feed. Guess what, all that breast milk has done stuff all to alleviate the poverty of the continent. Breast feeding will not solve problems arising from bad governance, lack of freedom and bad economics.

We certainly couldn’t accuse the author of this submission of overly complex arguments. Breast feeding is, doubtless, beneficial for babies. That said, there is still a role for formula. Once upon a time, if a new mother was not able produce milk, there were several choices – a wet nurse (for the wealthy only), gruel (not very nutritious) or death for the infant (and gruel was in most instances a death sentence anyway).

We highlight this submission because, yet again, here we have a dogmatic one-issue pontificator telling the third world what to do, to the detriment of the poor. Like DDT or GMOs, there are potential huge benefits associated with new products and technology for the world’s poor. It is both typical and patronising to have a do-gooder who has never known the pain of having a child die through want of milk or a milk substitute to write this stuff.

We note that this submission also argued that breast feeding was the answer to: enhancing productivity, population, sustainability, climate change and water, future directions for rural industries and rural communities and options for the future of indigenous Australia, to name a few. It probably cures malaria too.

Back of the envelope
  • Cost: not sure, but expect it to ne high for the developing world
  • Expected impact on average earnings: $0
  • Expected impact on economic growth: none
  • Impact on incentives: none
  • Impact on government spending: mercifully minimal
  • Impact on taxation: none
  • Winners: one-issue zealots
  • Losers: any woman who has problems breast feeding her young


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