There's a lot that could be written about the follies of foreign aid, but let's look at just a couple of examples.
First, the post that prompted these thoughts: Perry de Havilland says that most foreign aid is a crime based on a lie.
It will come as no surprise to anyone with a 100+ IQ and a modicum of knowledge about how the world works that Robert Mugabe and his murderous kleptocrats have appropriated more that £100 million (US $190 million) in aid sent to Zimbabwe by Britain and the EU.
As that was only to be expected, I cannot say it adds significantly to my loathing of the Mugabe regime. What does fill me with utter contempt is that the people responsible for this utterly predictable outcome still allowed the money to be sent in the first place.
As I have previously argued many times before about foreign aid, to send money for ostensibly humanitarian aims to a nation governed by a tyranny is to become the logistic support arm of that tyranny: insulating the regime from the economic (and hence political) consequences of its actions and thereby indirectly, but in a very real sense, making the regime more likely to survive than would otherwise be the case. That is true even if the humanitarian aid does indeed reach the people and projects it is targeted at.
Read his post for specific examples of how Zimbabwe has used Britain's money (like running youth camps that teach kids how to rape each other).
Similarly, I've argued that America's lax immigration policy serves as a crutch for Mexico's kleptocracy. Without the constant influx of American money, Mexico would have been forced into reform long ago.
Here's a short piece from the National Center for Policy Analysis that explains exactly what our foreign aid buys us (data from 1998).
- In the 1997 UN session, 74 percent of U.S. foreign aid recipients voted against the United States a majority of the time -- up from 68 percent in 1996 and 64 percent in 1995 (see figure).
- Of the 10 largest recipients of U.S. foreign aid, six voted against the United States more than half the time, the same level as in the 1996 UN session. (see figure)
- Furthermore, the 10 countries with the highest percentage of votes against the United States are scheduled to receive some $230 million in foreign aid in fiscal year 1998 (see figure).
In other words, we're financing our enemies.
Finally, for now, here's an article by the Cato Institute's James A. Dorn that advocates eliminating foreign aid and instead opening markets to third world products. As a specific example, US and EU sugar subsidies keep prices artificially depressed and prevent African sugar producers from being able to sell us their product. Instead of sending cash to corrupt dictators, why don't we eliminate these harmful subsidies and buy sugar from the cheapest international sources? It's a winning solution for everyone (except domestic sugar producers, who'll have to find something else to grow).