Roodman and Rominations

11 March 2012

My book was in the top 20 bestsellers on Amazon in the category of Nonprofit Organizations and Charities. But the book that is causing a lot of buzz these days is David Roodman’s “Due Diligence: An Impertinent Inquiry into Microfinance”. The Post featured an op ed by David today which more or less summarized his message: Microfinance has been oversold as an anti poverty tool and really doesn’t do much other than provide needed financial services to low income people for purposes of “income smoothing”, and, in many case, providing loans to very poor people is a very bad idea. I haven’t finished reading his book yet, and I should know better than to match wits with an academician and expert in econometrics (I stopped after my Masters and one multiple regression analysis too many), but I was surprised to learn that two of the four studies David cites in his book are focused on subprime consumer lenders in South Africa and the Phillipines. That’s not microfinance! At least not what those of us who started this movement call it. Maybe we should have trademarked the term so we don’t keep getting bundled in with the predatory, profit-driven providers.

Speaking of Op Eds, did you see the one Romney published ahead of Super Tuesday where he promised, if elected, to start Gulf War III? I had a number of questions about this, so I went to see him up at one of his homes in Boston. He was strapping two Alsacians to a “dog rack” on the back of his SUV, preparing for the long drive out to his mansion in Aspen, Colorado, but was gracious enough to give me a minute of his time.

Alsatian: Owooooooooooooo!

Rom: Oh, sorry, buddy, is that too tight? We don’t want you falling off at 80 mph, do we?

I told him my biggest question was how we were going to pay for the Iran invasion and subsequent occupation if, as his party chair Boehner put it “We’re broke.”

Rom: Got it covered, Rupe. I’ve spoke to Angela and Hu, and they tell me they are happy to underwrite it, just as they did Iraq. They just want me to provide a couple ‘a Cadillacs as collateral this time.

He glanced over his shoulder, as if looking to see where he might have misplaced them. I asked him how, if we had to borrow another 6 trillion dollars, plus cut taxes, we could reduce the deficit?

But by that time both dogs were howling, and I didn’t catch his answer.

Rupert Scofield


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