Please Stop the Aid

Article excerpt

Nancy Salvato works as a Head Start teacher in Illinois. She is the president of The Basics Project, a non-profit, non- partisan 501 (C) (3) research and educational project whose mission is to promote the education of the American public on the basic elements of relevant political, legal and social issues important to our country. She is also a staff writer for the New Media Alliance, Inc., a non-profit (501c3) coalition of writers and grass-roots media outlets, where she contributes on matters of education policy.

Economic freedom, in and of itself, is an extremely important part of total freedom. Milton Friedman, winner of the Nobel Prize in Economics (1976) (1)

"In 1996, the UN declared that seventy countries, aid recipients all, were poorer than in 1980. An incredible forty- three were worse off than in 1970." (2) Experience has consistently shown that simply providing money to third world countries will not buy political stability, spur social progress and eliminate poverty, yet this strategy continues to influence charitable efforts aimed at helping the impoverished people residing in these areas. (3)

It may sound cruel, but there are many valid reasons to stop the billions of dollars in aid given to poor countries. Often it ends up in the hands of officials who repress their people. Many of them spend this money on arms and military instead of necessary infrastructure. Foreign countries acknowledging leaders, in this way, legitimize their rule. With money comes influence; not only of corrupt officials but with the countries providing the donations. Donors determine which projects to support. As a result, beneficiaries lose their autonomy and any possibility of true self-government. Instead, allegiance is offered to those in power who can distribute aid or provide public service. (4)

How often does one read about the misuse of funds; the ruling elite making personal fortunes off of foreign aid and distributing great sums of money based on nepotism and favoritism? Perhaps the worst aspect of aid is that it finances centrally planned economies. Government enterprise competes with the private sector. Massive bureaucracies formed within aid agencies prevent the growth of a body of human resources in the recipient country. Many aid agencies' bureaucratically sanctioned projects have failed, devastating the environment and ruining lives. Sadly, ordinary people can lose their initiative and become reliant on government. Farmers are displaced by food aid. Potential entrepreneurs and intellectuals end up as bureaucrats in aid agencies. (5)

The bottom line, third world countries compete against each other for aid and limited trade opportunity. Recipient governments do not encourage a tax base through increased productivity. Potential capitalists go elsewhere. (6)

It should come as a surprise to no one that Bono's campaign to aid the poor, Project Red (http://www.joinred.com/manifesto.asp), is not receiving a 100 percent positive reception. Companies like Apple, American Express and Converse, among others are selling red-colored versions of their products. When purchased, a portion of the proceeds will be donated to the Global Fund to fight AIDS, tuberculosis and malaria in Africa. (7)

In an interview published in Der Spiegel, Kenyan James Shikwati summed up his feelings about how we can best help the poor: "For God's sake, please stop the aid!" (8) It is his belief "that business, not aid, can best fight poverty and disease." (9) His actions speak volumes about his words. To stop the spread of malaria, he hires Bukura youths to spray homes with pesticides. It costs villagers about 75 cents for an introductory treatment, and follow-up treatments run $4.25 every six months. This is cheaper than paying $17 to treat an actual case of malaria. Employees can use savings to purchase fertilizer and seed. These profits will, in turn bankroll businesses. And so on... …