I actually do what Michael does; read through to see who's responded, then I read the original post, scan the responses, and read all (or most) before I get involved. Lately I've been reading much much more then I've been responding to, but I suspect that's more related to my being busy then it is being exposed to worthy threads. I enjoy the debates - but get occasionally pissed-off by the baiting!
I learned a very powerful about trying to make large scale efforts at relieving famine when I was in Bolivia. I was very lucky to spend a day with a fine young woman who was the daughter of a famous Bolivian politician. She showed me all around Santa Cruz Bolivia, and told me many tales about her home land. She spoke with love for her people and passion for its politics!
One story still rings in my ears. The regional agriculturally based Santa Cruz economy was still (in those days) reeling from the effects of a poorly planned American relief effort, from several years before. It seems that a very poor growth year had occured with the corn crop, and the American congress determined that it would solve the problem by delivering a vast of amount of free corn to the city. A very high quality corn was distributed to locals for a very low price - local farmers who had a small crop of low quality corn could not sell any corn - the give away lasted some time and during that time the local farmers who could not compete with the high quality 'free' corn were forced to get out of the business of growing corn. Years later, with no local production of corn, the region was forced to continue to look for hand outs, while the local farmers were driven off to other work. The economy crumbled.
Her beef was not that American's tried to help out, but that they simply reached into their pockets and gave from their excess with no thought or concern for the consequences of their actions. What was really needed was a closer look at the problem, and a more 'involved' action. The old adage "give a man a fish, feed him for a day - teach a man to fish, feed him for a life time" comes to mind.