Foreign Aid

July 25, 2000

Last week Congress passed its latest incarnation of a foreign aid bill. This time the cost was $13 billion. Iím still amazed that these bills pass each year given the obvious evidence that foreign aid is ineffective and controversial.

Lord Peter Bauer described foreign aid as "taxing poor people in rich countries and passing it on to rich people in poor countries." Very little foreign aid helps the people. Most of it lines the pockets of political leaders and businessmen in multinational corporations.

And it does very little good. One study by the Cato Institute found that foreign aid actually harms developing countries by rewarding economic failure and delaying market-based reforms. The study also found that nations that received less foreign aid actually had more economic development than those that got more foreign aid help.

Even a cynical view of foreign aid cannot be justified: that giving foreign aid helps buy votes for the United States. A study by the Heritage Foundation found that of the ten largest recipients of U.S. foreign aid, six voted against the United States more than half the time. Furthermore, the ten countries with the highest percentage of votes against the U.S. were scheduled to receive some $230 million in foreign aid.

Foreign aid is also controversial. A sizable amount of foreign aid each years goes for family planning-- a code word for condoms, abortion, and other forms of birth control. Each year the U.S. spends over a billion dollars for family planning just through the U.S. Agency for International Development.

Itís often been said that the best foreign aid provided by Americans is not through the government but through churches and mission agencies that address both the physical and spiritual needs of people in each country. The $13 billion Congress just authorized wonít be half as effective.

Iím Kerby Anderson of Probe Ministries, and thatís my opinion.