The Annual Foreign Aid
June 5, 2006
week, Congress will vote to send more than 20 billion of your hard-earned
dollars overseas, when it passes the Foreign Operations Appropriations bill for
2007. Our annual foreign aid bill is one of the most egregious abuses of the
taxpayer I can imagine. Not only is it an unconstitutional burden on America’s
working families, but this yearly attempt to buy friends and influence foreign
governments is counterproductive and actually results in less goodwill toward
the United States overseas.
is foreign aid so bad? Isn’t it our obligation to help those less fortunate?
What is not mentioned by proponents of foreign aid is that it very seldom gets
to those who need it most. Foreign aid is the transfer of US dollars from the
treasury of the United States to the governments of foreign countries. It is
money that goes to help foreign elites, who in turn spend much of it on
contracts with US corporations. This means US tax dollars ultimately go to
well-connected US corporations operating overseas.
aid distorts foreign economies and props up bad governments. It breeds
resentment among citizens of foreign countries, who see the United States as
keeping oppressive governments in power. Also, it is important to remember that
forced charity is not charity at all. While I believe strongly in the moral
value of helping the less fortunate, charity must come voluntarily from the
heart, not under threat from the IRS.
year’s bill is even worse than last year’s bill. Aside from the almost 600
million dollar increase, the bill will spend half a billion dollars on something
called the “Trade Capacity Enhancement Fund.” This is nothing but an
enormous fund to bribe foreign governments to “liberalize” their trade
policies. As one of the strongest proponents of free trade in Congress, I know
well that open and free trade is its own reward. Countries that trade freely
with each other are wealthier and far less likely to go to war. We shouldn’t
kid ourselves: this new program is not about free trade. Its purpose is to
encourage countries to enter into new so-called trade agreements with the US
government. Government to government trade agreements produce government-managed
trade relationships, which are not free trade at all. This fund is a colossal
waste of money that will result in less free trade worldwide.
this year Congress will nearly double funding for the monstrous Millennium
Challenge program. This is billed as a different kind of foreign aid, in that it
only goes to governments that pursue “free market” economic and social
reforms. Of course this is a waste of money: governments that pursue wise
economic policies will attract much more in foreign private investment than the
US government can send them. The true reward for sound economic policies is
increased prosperity. Foreign aid does not purchase that prosperity but in fact
distorts internal markets and props up inefficient companies.
Americans concerned about high taxes, out of control gas prices, and economic downturn should think hard about what the US government is doing with the money it takes from them. The greatest “foreign assistance” we can give to other countries is to demonstrate to the rest of the world that limited government and the rule of law ensure freedom and prosperity.