U.S. Foreign Aid: Pure Intentions, Poor Results


Friday, July 14, 2017

On Saturday, July 8th, President Trump’s White House announced a new $630 million taxpayer-funded foreign aid package to assist war-torn African nations. The recipients of this monetary gift include Yemen, South Sudan where a cholera outbreak has ravaged the populace, Nigeria who is battling Boko Haram, and Somalia who is in the midst of a severe drought. This brings total U.S. humanitarian aid to 1.8 billion dollars for these four nations alone, according to the U.S. Agency for International Development.

Giving aid to struggling nations seems like a just and moral thing to do. Admittedly, it has been fascinating to watch the left-leaning media react to the news, because they’ve painted President Trump as greedy, callous, unfit and unwilling to tackle the major problems facing the world. With their typical smugness, the left’s consensus seems to follow along the lines of  “What happened to America first?”

The left’s hypocrisy is showing. Undoubtedly, they would have showered former President Obama with praise for such a huge humanitarian relief effort. But unwittingly, and out of disdain for President Trump, they’ve been tricked into supporting America’s best interest for once.

On this issue, I have to agree with them. What happened to America first?

There are surely hundreds of heart-wrenching anecdotes about who could benefit from $630 million in aid on American soil, but I’m not interested in that angle. I’m keenly interested in the United States’ strenuous track record with foreign aid.

It is important to note that the framers of our Constitution would be horrified by the idea of foreign aid. It was their primary desire for America to stay out of the affairs of other nations, even though global medical aid has helped eradicate Polio worldwide and reduced Malaria mortality rates by 50% since 2000 according to the Brookings Institute.

Outside of certain medical aid programs helping to reduce disease in the third world, U.S. economic foreign aid is an utter disaster and a complete waste of resources. The primary reason for this has to do with the people who receive the aid.

It is important to understand that the aid rarely ends up in the hands of the people who actually need it. Instead, it goes to corrupt third-world governments who use it to fund lavish lifestyles for those at the very top.

Trusting despotic third world leaders with our resources is naive. Many of these nations have poor citizens due to their corrupt government officials. These leaders understand that as long as their people continue to be poor, there will always be a humanitarian agency willing to donate money. This encourages a cycle of poverty and dependence, instead of teaching people to be self-reliant and allowing them to subsist for themselves. The poorest people in the world are continuously let down by their leaders and left for dead.

Of course the corrupt governments wouldn’t want their populations to be self-reliant! If they were, they might muster up the power to rebel, and then the flow of millions of dollars in foreign aid would cease.

Additionally, it is often the case that those in the third world who have learned to be self-reliant are hurt by foreign aid as well. Consider a local shoe maker in Africa. What do you think happens to the shoe maker’s business when a humanitarian aid organization brings shoes into town and gives them away for free? According to the Cato Institute, a parallel situation has been well documented in Egypt and Haiti, where farmers watch “the prices of their crops nose-dive when U.S. free food is given to their countries.” This is because the policies dictate dependance, not subsistence.

Do we have the resources to help other nations improve if we’re so inclined? We certainly do. It’s not a resource problem, it’s a policy problem.

We must stop judging these foreign aid projects by their intentions. We must judge them by their results.

Had their results been positive, years of U.S. aid would have drastically improved the standard of living for the people on the receiving end. Sadly, it has not.

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About Peter D'Abrosca

Elon University School of Law

Pete is a law student from the great state of Rhode Island. He has an intense interest in American culture and current affairs. In his spare time he enjoys volunteering as quality control officer for Tito's Vodka, taste testing as many bottles as he can. He prides himself on having no functional knowledge of the lives of the Kardashians, and can often be found scrolling through his own Twitter timeline, deleting bad Tweets.

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