Thursday, June 09, 2005

Foreign Aid.

Yesterday I blogged about an initiative by Bob Geldoff regarding financial aid to African nations. My opinion on foreign aid is that we are not NOT (an intentional double negative here) going to send foreign aid to nations in need no more than we are not going to aid the mother of six children who does not have a job. Yes in the cold calculation of cause and effect the dire situation both that mother finds herself in and the plight of the African nation are very much brought on by bad choices. This counts for something but the choice is not between nothing or having them sponge off of the productive forever. The key is to make sure foreign aid is contingent upon reforms that will lead them to a productive and independent future.

Now, the biggest problem with foreign aid is too often the aid does not reach the people most in need but go to rich dictators. This is a legitimate concern because no one wants to help a rich dictator build YAP (in this case YAP is Yet Another Palace) or buy another closetful of clothes for his wife. The purpose of giving is to help those who may not know how they will come up with the scratch to pay for their next meal for extended periods. Of course, we hope the need for aid will eventually cease so we try to attach conditions to coax that nation into a more self sufficient economy.

This is why trade barriers are so heinous. Why should we just give handouts when they could work at something that other peoples are willing to pay for? Of course they would do it for less, after all no one works for pieces of paper one works for food, clothing, shelter and so on. In those nations their meager pay is what they need to live on. $10.00 here doesn't get you a case of beer but it gets you two in the Filipines (just as good too).

We are not an island we need to make sure all people have a fair shot at the good life. Not only does it make things better for them it will in the long run be better for us as well.