“for ten years you get payments, so you have no need to work in your field or sew clothes”
I don’t believe that these cash payments, the equivalent of less than $1 a day, are sufficient to cause people to stop working. And the evidence is fairly clear from GiveDirectly’s research that they do not have that effect. In fact by allowing people to invest in their education/health/business where previously they were credit constrained, they could fairly easily raise their work effort and productivity.
I personally do not live in a country where give directly operates, but I can speak to what people here with money they receive from similar programs, and what they tell the people who have them the money what they did with it. I have seen literally over a hundred families receive donations tell the organization that they spent it on everything from healthy vegetables to school fees when in fact they spent it on sugar, tea, larger celebrations, new sound systems and more. It is completely culturally acceptable to lie to strangers, especially if those strangers are giving you money. So I am skeptical of their statistics to say the least.
As for people refusing to do work when they have enough to get by, I live in a place where most people are subsistence farmers. Due to the lack of jobs, when there is no work to do on the farm, most people sit around and do nothing. If there are no jobs and people have enough to get by, they won’t do anything. Why are there no jobs, because of organizations like AMF.
“I have seen literally over a hundred families receive donations tell the organization that they spent it on everything from healthy vegetables to school fees when in fact they spent it on sugar, tea, larger celebrations, new sound systems and more.”
Even if that turns out to be true, this kind of spending could still help the country’s economy and support local businesses. It seems like cash transfers to people in developing countries don’t do enough harm to outweigh the positives associated with them. Your argument might still work for AMF, but I’m not so sure about GiveDirectly.
If you doubt the claim, I would encourage you to come live here for years and see what you think. But as for the claim about the economy, I would agree that GiveDirectly, would probably fall more in the “not doing as much good as it says” category in terms of jobs and economic development than the “actively doing harm” category. However, in terms of dependence I would argue that the harm outweighs the good. GiveDirectly clearly creates dependence of foreign aid by supplying communities with money for basic necessities for years and then cutting them off. These communities loose the ability to be productive after years of dependence, and will in fact end more dependent on aid than they started, since those people in the community who were working, did not need to, and so their tools and equipment will need to be replaced, or if they passed on, their expertise could be lost for good. The harm that GiveDirectly does is that it deepens the need for aid in these communities instead of lessening it. This is great for aid organizations, because it keeps them in business, but it is bad for communities because if the aid ever stops, they will be much worse off than before. An ethical aid organization should work itself out of a job, not increase the need for more organizations like itself.