Tuesday, August 5, 2008

U.S. Foreign Aid

Here's a somewhat random listing of the top recipients of U.S. foreign aid in 2006:

Israel - $2,520,000,000
Egypt - $1,795,000,000
Columbia - $558,000,000
Jordan - $461,000,000 
Pakistan - $698,000,000
Peru - $133,000,000
Indonesia - $158,000,000
Kenya - $213,000,000
Bolivia - $122,000,000
Ukraine - $115,000,000
India - $94,000,000
Haiti - $163,000,000
Russia - $52,000,000
Ethiopia -$145,000,000
West Bank/Gaza - $150,000,000
Liberia - $89,000,000
Bangladesh - $49,000,000
Bosnia - $51,000,000

Give it a moment to sink in...

What is most striking about this list to me is how seemingly nonsensical it is. We give to impoverished nations and wealthy nations, allies and enemies, nations with strategic resources and those with none. We give to nations with exploding economies and those that have been impoverished since the dawn of man. We give three times as much to Haiti as we do to India even though India has a population that is 127 times larger, thus we give 381 times the money to Haiti per capita. WTF?????

Even if you ignore the question of merit or the legal/moral questions concerning foreign aid, you are still stuck with the self-evident fact that our foreign aid policies are insane.

Then of course there is the question of benefit; is our generosity having any positive results? Looking at that list it should be obvious that our foreign aid has neither improved those nations noticeably or made them more amiable to us.

The real question is why on earth we give any foreign aid whatsoever. Domestic policies aside, foreign aid makes very little sense. Do we really think that we gain more of a benefit from it than say... more police officers? How about job retraining programs for Michigan? Or vouchers for private schools? Or paying down the national debt? Or tax breaks for small-businesses, or even a bridge to nowhere? Can anyone really say that the $20+ billion that we give out every year to line the pockets of despots and corrupt bureaucrats, wouldn't do more good domestically?

By what right does the government give away our wealth? Was their some constitutional clause somewhere that says it's our national obligation to give randomly to foreign countries? I don't recall seeing it. I could perhaps tolerate it if there was some legitimate benefit but in my lifetime I have seen none and I believe that foreign aid is effectively theft and the politicians that endorse it are treasonous criminals. I will never, ever vote for a single politician who would ever endorse a single penny of foreign aid again...

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