Excellent interview of Dambisa Moyo, African critic of U.S., foreign, and international aid. Her points are excellent.
And here is Bill Gates answering criticism on his favorite program, foreign aid.
Her book, Dead Aid: Why Aid Is Not Working and How There Is a Better Way for Africa, is a New York Times Best Seller.
So what are the problems with foreign aid? I mean who in their right mind could despise aid to countries whose children are starving? We see the starving children with big bellies, sad eyes, and the disturbing scene of flies crawling on their face and around their open mouths. This is a common picture on television. How could anyone question or object to rescuing these impoverished children?
First, I think we need to look at the problems more closely. We can’t assume that one child or five means that the family in that country, its aid agencies, or government isn’t doing something already.
According to Mark Thornton of the Mises Institute,
Americans are united in their opposition to foreign aid—and with good reason! Foreign aid, military aid, debt relief, economic development assistance, and even disaster assistance money—all with “strings attached” to ensure proper behavior—are associated with “fraud, waste, and abuse.”
The problem with government money is that if you take Satan’s money, you do Satan’s bidding. That money is not free. And as to calling it aid, one has to ask Who exactly is the aid helping? Those TV ads calling for African aid are interminable, so it doesn’t look like the aid is helping the children. Schools do the same thing. District and school officials frequently sell their bond measures shamelessly by telling their staff that “It’s for the children.” As if.
A more sober examination forces us to look at how manages the aid, who collects it, who distributes it, on what terms, and so forth. None of us can be so naive to think that this process is done without bias or design. So we need to look at who manages the aid and what their plans are.
At least with regard to the Middle East, Thornton explains that
U.S. aid designed to bring about peace in the Middle East is an ideological seedbed of hatred, war, and terrorism. The big players in foreign aid, the International Monetary Fund and the World Bank, are more likely to bring about economic meltdown and social calamity than economic stability.
Moyo echos this sentiment in her interview above.
In the Thornton piece, he cites Ludwig von Mises’ essays Planning for Freedom. Mises explains that foreign aid is designed to hide the problems with socialist planning.
The American subsidies make it possible for [foreign] governments to conceal partially the disastrous effects of the various socialist measures they have adopted.
But of course. And what an indictment. So the main problem with foreign aid is the corruption and fraud, and the fact that the aid never reaches the families who might benefit from it.