Leave Foreign Aid to the Private Sector
Overseas assistance more effective in hands of U.S. businesses and philanthropists
October 11, 2011
Foreign aid is such a drop in the bucket as a share of overall federal spending that taking it to zero would be as effective as a speed bump in front of a freight train.
That said, there are reasons to be skeptical of foreign-assistance programs. The fact is, most of them are a waste of money.
Since 1960, developed member nations of the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development have donated more than $3 trillion. The U.S. share of that is about one third. For all the money spent, the results--in terms of job creation and higher living standards through economic growth--are incredibly dismal.
[Read more about the deficit and national debt.]
Most of the American largesse is funneled through the USAID. Almost all of that could be phased out without harming U.S. interests.
Some U.S. assistance for national security purposes--that directed toward more effective programs, such as the President's Emergency Program for AIDS Relief (PEPFAR) or the Millennium Challenge Corporation (MCC)--makes sense. PEPFAR was established using private-sector models of accountability and tracking systems. The MCC uses a model centered on encouraging rule of law and economic freedom so that the poor may act to empower themselves rather than be dependent on their (often) corrupt leaders and governments.
Otherwise, we would be far better off promoting development and entrepreneurship by letting the private sector and American philanthropists do what they do best.