The Fundamental Conundrum

In the comments of a Bill Easterly post, David Ellerman outlines a major problem:

The basic problem, across the whole range of the human helping relationships (like aid) between what might be called the “helper” and the “doer,” is that success lies in achieving more autonomy on the part of the doers, and autonomy is precisely the sort of thing that cannot be externally supplied or provided by the would-be helpers. This is the fundamental conundrum of all human helping relations, and it is the basic reason, not complexity, why engineering approaches and the like don’t work.

(Hat tip: Wilkinson)