Ron Paul's Texas Straight Talk - A weekly Column

Deficits at Home, Welfare Abroad

November 7,  2005  

In the wake of Hurricanes Katrina and Rita, and with an ongoing war in Iraq that costs more than $1 billion per week, taxpayers might think Congress has better things to do with $21 billion than send it overseas.  Yet thatís exactly what Congress did last Friday, approving a useless and counterproductive foreign aid spending bill.  Never mind that the total federal debt recently topped $8 trillion, or that a major US city was virtually destroyed only a few months ago.  Arrogant is the only word to describe a Congress that cares so little about its own taxpaying citizens while pretending to know what is best for the world.

Consider just a few of the ways your money will be used under the new bill:

Constitutionally, of course, none of this spending is authorized.  But there also is a strong moral case to be made against taking money from Americans and giving it to foreign governments.  Foreign aid doesnít help poor people; it helps foreign elites and US corporations who obtain the contracts doled out by those foreign elites.  Everyone in Washington knows this, but the same lofty rhetoric is used over and over to sell foreign aid programs. Corporate welfare is bad enough, but corporate welfare in the guise of helping poor foreigners is indecent.

In many cases, foreign aid money simply distorts foreign economies and props up bad governments.  In countries that pursue harmful economic policies, an infusion of US cash only exacerbates and prolongs problems.  No amount of money can help nations that reject property rights, free markets, and the rule of law.

Since American foreign aid programs began in earnest decades ago, tens of billions of US tax dollars have been given to nations around the globe.  The utter failure of this money to change things for the better in those nations is no longer in question; even the most earnest advocates deep down must admit the obvious.  Most of the recipient nations remain endlessly mired in poverty, political and legal corruption, and cultural malaise.

A rational person would argue that failed aid programs should be eliminated.  In Washington, however, failed programs get more money thrown at them.  The American public deserves to know why there is room in the budget for foreign aid, when taxpayers face record deficits and debt at home.