The headline is the typical response from virtually every politician, including the vast majority in Congress, to anyone that dares to challenge the idea that because the States are “rich” we have a moral obligation to transfer billions of dollars to “poor” countries. (That is, “Third World” countries – we can’t use that term as it is politically incorrect because it is racist, bigoted, and displays attitudes of American exceptionalism and white supremacy.)
Why do we (and other western, “wealthy” countries) give foreign aid? For many countries in Europe, where church and state are united (that is, the church is ruled by and funded by, the state, and used to have some influence over the state governments), it is considered a “moral” (even biblical) obligation. Of course, since the majority of the elites (and many of the people) of these nations have rejected virtually all biblical morality, it may be a combination of two things: habit and fear.
The fear part is best understood by the quaint old English custom of “Danegeld.” Viking raiders were willing to be bought off by a sufficient amount of tribute: “pay hard gold and silver and we WON’T attack, loot, rape, and burn your town.” (Got to get it in the right order, of course.)
(The truth – seen even today? “That if once you have paid him the Dane-geld, You never get rid of the Dane.” And it was written wisely by the same man: “We never pay anyone Dane-geld, no matter how trifling the cost. For the end of that game is oppression and shame and the nation that plays it is lost!”. ― Rudyard Kipling.)
Today, despite their open borders and the growing foreign (especially Muslim) populations within their borders, European countries are afraid. If they do not pay the foreign aid to the various African and Western Asian nations, those nations will decay into more horrible places to live and so more and more people will invade Europe “peacefully.” And without the foreign aid, the ruling classes of those countries may decide to steal European’s property, kidnap Europeans, and less-than-peacefully invade Europe and its dependencies. And if they stop paying, they fear more opposition at home, both from the immigrants and the native population, to the government in general.
All of these reasons apply here in the Fifty States, just in varying degree. And virtually every one of these reasons is based on lies, myths, and misunderstandings.
Fear? Yes, that unless we pay to shore up governments in Latin America and Africa, we will be ever more overwhelmed by border jumpers from those countries fleeing intolerable conditions and a lack of hope. But… more overwhelmed? Probably not so that we’d notice.
Habit? We’ve been doing it for 80+ years: we can’t stop now. Ingrained bureaucracy if nothing else. Government programs don’t die. Bad habits are hard to break, but need to be. And they don’t die but they CAN BE killed.
Morality? We OWE it to those poorer than us to provide benevolence. That is another discussion all by itself. We don’t owe ANYTHING to other people than what we have mutually and voluntarily agreed upon. Benevolence is something between us and our God, or our conscience – something we do for our own purposes. Government-mandated “benevolence” is an evil oxymoron.
Economics? Most of that foreign aid money goes to Americans anyway: government agents, corporations (weapons makers, big agricultural businesses, educational institutions, etc.) and so really provides American jobs. So? if that money is spent voluntarily by people here, it probably is going to Americans anyway – and without as many sticky fingers on the way.
Prestige and Political Influence Abroad? Other countries just love us because we give them things. OR Other countries would hate us even more if we DIDN’T give them things. If we didn’t give aid to our allies, they’d be invaded and destroyed (Israel, Korea, Taiwan, and some others) or they would become enemies and client states of our enemies (Egypt, Turkey, Columbia and others). And of course, if we give some things to our enemies, they won’t want to lose that and so won’t go to war with us. (China, maybe Russia) All this sound illogical? Because it is.
(The best example we have of winning friends and influencing enemies – whoops, people – with foreign aid is what Biden boasted about in threating Ukraine with not getting a billion dollars back when he was VP. Of course we want more of that, right?)
The bottom line? No real REASONS why the FedGov needs to provide foreign aid. At least not 99% of the time.
Let’s call it quits and in the last piece of this commentary, look at the fears and the REAL things the States -and free people – would gain from ending federal foreign aid.
“Why do we (and other western, ‘wealthy’ countries) give foreign aid?”
“Countries” don’t dispense foreign aid. States do. And they do so for the purpose of buying political influence in other states.
Tom, points addressed later in this series on foreign aid. Specifically, GOVERNMENTS give foreign aid. And buying political influence with other governments (and organizations) is just one of the purposes. Admittedly, a significant one, but far from the only purpose. Admittedly the word “countries” is a nebulous term. But as discussed in this series, governments steal money (from whatever source and by whatever means) and then dispense (I like that word for it) that money to governments in other states either directly or indirectly. Often claiming it is “benevolence” or “charity” on behalf of “the American people” (or whomever).
And the biggest beneficiary of the American tax money welfare train is the rich nation of Israel. Both in direct aid and money paid to other nations on behalf of Israel, we pay a billion dollar a year bribe to Egypt to keep it from attacking Israel.
No argument from me, Chris. Most people don’t think of US foreign aid to Egypt as actually foreign aid for Israel. That, in particular, smells of Danegeld, doesn’t it? One of the many purposes of foreign aid.