I am against it when unemployment is so staggering in a country that young people leave en mass because they have no future. I am against it when there is literally no industry in a country and a single factory could make a world of difference. I am against it when the people in the country do not have a choice in the matter, when they cannot say, oh I would rather buy a bed net to support my local business here than to buy one from a foreign company, and instead they are forced to take bed nets for free, destroying any possibility of fair competition.
As for the claim that if we could get free things from abroad, it would be great, have you ever lived somewhere were you get everything for free from aboard? I do. Over 95% of my country’s budget is straight aid. Everything is subsidized or donated. And it is horrible, no one has a job, (if you get free clothes, anyone that works at a clothing store is out of work, if you get free food anyone that works on a farm, or at a restaurant is out of work) so there is no capital lying around for you to do something with. We can’t produce anything here, because no one wants to invest in a developing country, they would rather help by donating their money to keep these harmful charities alive.
If AMF spent a little more money and helped to create factories in the countries that they worked, they would actually help the local economies, prevent brain drain, and allow people to help themselves, the problem is that then, everyone at AMF and the foreign factory would be out of a job, since the people in the country could handle it themselves. It is better for them to perpetuate the problem and increase dependence since that will keep them in business. Spending a little more could make a world of difference. And this is exactly the problem with only assessing charities on certain factors while ignoring others.
How can locals get something from abroad? Most retail companies do not ship here, and even if they did it would be drastically out of anyone’s price range. But not if they were made locally.
As for no one requesting bed nets, imagine that you go door to door in a town that makes matchsticks giving out free matchsticks for life. Imagine also that this town is sufficiently poor that if they can get something for free they don’t have a choice. If you asked them, they would say they needed more jobs, but you did not ask them what they wanted. You give out matchsticks and eventually the factory, the only source of income for many families here, shuts down. You did harm. People here can’t afford to refuse something that is given for free, and it hurts them in the long run. Why would it be so hard to use your money to give the community what they actually wanted? What gives you the right from afar to decide what a place you have never seen or visited needs? Why do you think that you know more about their lives than they do? Every day I see the harm that these organizations do, but since the recipients have no voice in these forums, the donors keep on doing their worst and patting themselves on the back for it.