Free money for worthy Indians

iStockphoto.com Do you know anyone in India who lives near a Western Union branch? If so, they have the chance to receive free money from Tyler Cowen, author of the new book Discover Your Inner Economist. Apparently, he enjoyed his two visits to India so much that he wants to make a “merit-based” gift to ...

600026_070813_money_05.jpg
600026_070813_money_05.jpg

iStockphoto.com

Do you know anyone in India who lives near a Western Union branch? If so, they have the chance to receive free money from Tyler Cowen, author of the new book Discover Your Inner Economist. Apparently, he enjoyed his two visits to India so much that he wants to make a "merit-based" gift to Indians.

By the end of this week, he will wire one Indian $500 and five others $100 each through Western Union. If his book gets published in India, he will also distribute the net, post-tax value of his Indian advance to individuals on the subcontinent.

iStockphoto.com

Do you know anyone in India who lives near a Western Union branch? If so, they have the chance to receive free money from Tyler Cowen, author of the new book Discover Your Inner Economist. Apparently, he enjoyed his two visits to India so much that he wants to make a “merit-based” gift to Indians.

By the end of this week, he will wire one Indian $500 and five others $100 each through Western Union. If his book gets published in India, he will also distribute the net, post-tax value of his Indian advance to individuals on the subcontinent.

Why in the world is Cowen, an economics professor and blogger, experimenting with this new form of charity? He thinks we should test out zero-overhead giving, in keeping with a belief that perhaps remittances are better than bureaucratic foreign aid. Additionally, he is trying to live by principles for helping people that he writes about in his book. Those principles are:

  1. Cash is often the best form of aid.
  2. Give to those who are not expecting it.
  3. Don’t require the recipients to do anything costly to get the money.

If you live in India, you can enter yourself, or if you know someone living in India, you can enter on behalf of that person. All Cowen asks is that you send an e-mail with a one-sentence explanation of how the money will help India, according to the instructions posted on his blog.

Cowen says that this method is a zero-waste way of giving money. But with more than 1 billion people in India, it won’t shock me if at least one clever person figures out how to scam this experimental form of philanthrophy.

Preeti Aroon was copy chief at Foreign Policy from 2009 to 2016 and was an FP assistant editor from 2007 to 2009. Twitter: @pjaroonFP

More from Foreign Policy

An illustration shows George Kennan, the father of Cold War containment strategy.
An illustration shows George Kennan, the father of Cold War containment strategy.

Is Cold War Inevitable?

A new biography of George Kennan, the father of containment, raises questions about whether the old Cold War—and the emerging one with China—could have been avoided.

U.S. President Joe Biden speaks on the DISCLOSE Act.
U.S. President Joe Biden speaks on the DISCLOSE Act.

So You Want to Buy an Ambassadorship

The United States is the only Western government that routinely rewards mega-donors with top diplomatic posts.

Chinese President Xi jinping  toasts the guests during a banquet marking the 70th anniversary of the founding of the People's Republic of China on September 30, 2019 in Beijing, China.
Chinese President Xi jinping toasts the guests during a banquet marking the 70th anniversary of the founding of the People's Republic of China on September 30, 2019 in Beijing, China.

Can China Pull Off Its Charm Offensive?

Why Beijing’s foreign-policy reset will—or won’t—work out.

Turkish Defense Minister Hulusi Akar chairs a meeting in Ankara, Turkey on Nov. 21, 2022.
Turkish Defense Minister Hulusi Akar chairs a meeting in Ankara, Turkey on Nov. 21, 2022.

Turkey’s Problem Isn’t Sweden. It’s the United States.

Erdogan has focused on Stockholm’s stance toward Kurdish exile groups, but Ankara’s real demand is the end of U.S. support for Kurds in Syria.