Tuesday, March 23, 2004

Oil for Kickbacks

The massive corruption that seems to have riddled the UN's Oil for Kickbacks/Food program does not seem to have been covered much in the media.

As a WaPo op-ed notes
[In] the U.N. Oil for Food program... billions of dollars that were supposed to provide food and medical care to the Iraqi people were used by Saddam Hussein to bribe powerful people around the world into opposing sanctions against his regime
The truth is that people respond to incentives, and a centrally planned program involving complex transactions outside of market prices will lead to corruption and graft even if the main players were not dubious arab regimes and unelected unaccountable bureaucrats. The notion of "smart sanctions", where goods can be sold, but only at certain prices, and only if the money is used for particular things, seems to have proved as Utopian as it sounds.


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