We are told that last year, thanks to COVID, the most foreign aid ever in world history flowed from “rich nations” to “poor nations.” Something like $150 billion US according to some sources: others say it was as high as $250 billion. Apparently only a small part of this (less than $50B) went to “fight climate change.” Which has unsweet little Greta and the woke mob upset.
I have to take the opposite tack, people.
So for the next few commentaries, let us discuss foreign aid some more, and see if we can guess what a world without foreign aid might be like.
As a lover of liberty, and especially as a follower of Christ Jesus, I believe in generosity – in giving to the poor and unfortunate, the weak both young and old in need. And apparently, many Americans agree with me. According to the NPTrust (whomever that is) American individuals and families gave $324 BILLION in 2020. And foundations and corporations gave another $115 billion – more than twice what the FedGov gave to other nations. That total of $471 billion dwarfs the FedGov’s theft and “spend” – although I am sure that most of that giving was done in-country.
But that is what it is – GIVING. Not “spending” and not stealing, and not because we are forced to (except maybe the five-year-old Gramma makes put his quarter in the collection plate on Sunday morning).
Because government doesn’t give anything away that IT has produced or earned – because it only has what it can steal. Whatever it calls it: taxes, fees, “donations” and “voluntary contributions.” And when we are talking about foreign aid, well, shucks! They are giving the money that they stole from us to the powers that be in all these foreign countries. Powers that be are people who generally tend to hate and despise Americans, but pretend to love America because of the money (and other things) that they get.
One thing seems to be for certain true. Foreign aid is generally NOT about generosity. It is not charity. Governments give money to other countries or people expecting something in return.
There did not used to be this thing called foreign aid. At least not in the way it is done today.
In ancient times (and actually, fairly recently as history goes), when one country paid money or “gave” things to another country, it was called “tribute.” One country (or an empire) would defeat and usually conquer (occupy) another country, and force the defeated country to (among other things) pay vast sums of money. (And this was REAL money: gold and silver, not little green pieces of paper or electronic bookkeeping entries.) It was just like taxes: pay us and we’ll (mostly) leave you alone – and alive.
Rome did that, Egypt and China and Japan and even France and England and Russia all did that. Sometimes it went with taking over the defeated country, and sometimes not. Oddly enough, the US did not really do that tribute thing: the closest was when Mexico was forced to sell a third of the country to DC back in 1845, and perhaps the direct transfer of the Philippines, Guam, and Puerto Rico from Spain to DC in 1899.
Now, once in a while, countries DID do foreign aid. Of a very specific kind. The newly-United States was the beneficiary of that in the 1780s. France provided foreign aid to the US (pre-DC, I note) in the form of loans, weapons, and especially troops and ships (with crews) to fight the Brits. It was NOT “charity” on the part of King Louis – it was part of France’s nearly continuous wars with the Brits. It was to hurt the United Kingdom, to cause the UK to lose its colonies as the UK had done to France 30 years earlier.
That was the kind of foreign aid that was more common, especially in the early 1900s – and how DC got into the business: the Great War (World War I). The Brits sent “foreign aid” to France (troops and such). Many in the US got rich by selling things to the Brits and the French. And when they got in trouble, good ol’ Wilson got us to go to war and sent troops and supplies and money to the Allies. “Volunteer” on the part of DC, NOT voluntary on the part of most of the troops and the people who paid taxes. But the direct cash-to-countries idea would continue.
I’ll talk about that in the next commentary. Meanwhile, think: what would the world be like without foreign aid? What if DC stopped?
By the way, a reader shared a map at Visual Capitalist to answer my question, who gives all this money: #1 US #2 Germany #3 UK #4 European Union #5 Japan #6 France #7 Italy #8 Sweden #9 Netherlands #10 Canada. – No idea if these are also the 10 richest nations or not. And Forbes reports that the US “spent” nearly $300 billion in foreign aid from 2013-2018. That’s about $47 billion a year – yes, even under Old Scrooge himself, The Donald didn’t really cut much. And when you really get down to it, that isn’t very much. About $157 dollars for each of 300 million “Yankees.” About 15 or 16 “good” cheeseburgers or 30 Starbucks medium coffees… (Aside to self – people pay $5+ for a 12-ounce cup of COFFEE?)
If DC (paying out 0.18% of gross national income, according to the VC) were as generous as Sweden, Norway or Luxembourg (all about 1% of GNI), we would be giving out $260 billion or so. Wow! What is that, about 1/8 of the grossly-inflated FedGov spending this year?
But all these numbers are beside the point, really. It is not that Americans (or Swedes or whomever) are generous – it is our political elites that are generous. With OUR money – either stolen from us or from future generations.