What Should America do
July 11, 2005
At the G8 summit in Scotland last week, we heard once again how the wealthy nations of the world have not done enough to raise Africa out of poverty. At the Live 8 music festival that preceded it, we heard angry demands for “Justice, Not Charity” in Africa. Implicit in such demands is the collectivist fallacy that wealth is a zero sum game, and therefore western prosperity is possible only at the expense of African misery. As usual, Americans and other western nations are portrayed as villains who somehow conspire to keep Africa poor.
White House attempted to quell criticism that America is not doing enough
to save Africa by announcing that the U.S. would double its economic aid to the
continent, from $4.3 billion to $8.6 billion, over the next few years.
Neither Congress nor the American people were consulted prior to this
pronouncement, I might add.
I think the public might not share the administration’s generous mood,
especially as we spend billions in Iraq and face single year deficits of $500
a federal government with nearly $8 trillion in debt has no business giving
money to anybody.
Prime Minister Tony Blair went a step further, promising that the G8 nations
will provide $50 billion in economic aid to Africa by 2010, along with canceling
hundreds of millions in debt owed to taxpayers of several western governments.
But why should foreign leaders have any say over how American tax dollars
are spent? Is
our annual federal budget now subject to foreign scrutiny and approval?
America is an incredibly charitable nation, as evidenced by the hundreds
of millions of dollars donated by private citizens for tsunami relief last year.
We don’t need lectures or guidance from the world when it comes to
poverty is rooted in government corruption, corruption that actually is fostered
by western aid.
We should ask ourselves a simple question: Why is private capital so
scarce in Africa?
The obvious answer is that many African nations are ruled by terrible men
who pursue disastrous economic policies. As a result, American aid simply
enriches dictators, distorts economies, and props up bad governments.
We could send Africa $1 trillion, and the continent still would remain
mired in poverty simply because so many of its nations reject property rights,
free markets, and the rule of law.
commentator Joseph Potts explains, western money enables dictators like Robert
Mugabe of Zimbabwe to gain and hold power without the support of his nation’s
rulers learn to manipulate foreign governments and obtain an independent source
of income, which makes them far richer and more powerful than any of their
Once comfortably in power, and much to the horror of the western
governments that funded them, African dictators find their subjects quite
helpless and dependent.
Potts describes this process as giving African politicians the “power
The bottom line is that despite decades of western aid, more Africans
than ever are living in extreme poverty.
Foreign aid simply doesn’t work.
this reality, western political leaders who offer to increase aid are always
praised for their compassionate and progressive policies.
But what about the people who are suffering here at home, whether from
hunger, illness, or poverty?
Are their lives and well being less important?
Where is the constitutional provision allowing American tax dollars to be