that require time. Finally, foundations provide an alternative resource given that government cannot respond to the societal problems.
Critics respond by saying that although foundations can potentially respond quickly to changing conditions, they have failed to do so. Furthermore, foundations spend the majority of their funds on noncontroversial causes. Most foundations have ignored the needs of the poor and the disaffected. Other arguments against the continued existence of foundations are that they perpetuate an elite that dominates the major centers of power in the society and that the interlocking directorates of the corporate sector and foundations lead to a concentration of power in a few hands. This concentration of power poses a danger to a democratic society. Critics also believe that foundations set the policy agenda for major universities, educational institutions, health institutions, and other social institutions by directing financial resources. They are accountable only to themselves and are not adequately monitored to ensure that they are acting in the best interest of the public.
The debate over the role of foundations in public policy is unlikely to subside. As we approach the end of the twentieth century, the appropriate role of government in providing public goods and services is being debated in the United States. Advocates of a diminished role for government argue for an increased activity by the private sector in meeting societal needs. Inevitably, foundations will be called upon to replace government initiatives and funds in responding to educational, social, and economic needs. The Ford Foundation will play an important leadership role in determining how foundations will respond to the new challenges of the twenty-first century.
DENISE E. STRONG
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FOREIGN AID . The provision of a range of economic assistance measures by the wealthier countries of the industrialized world to poorer states, primarily in the Third World. Support for foreign aid and assistance has waxed and waned in the industrialized world over a period of decades. Debates have addressed the purposes and consequences of aid. From the early 1990s, most industrialized countries embarked on a general reduction of aid provided to the Third World. The ending of the Cold War had a great deal to do with that set of decisions.
Wealthy nations have always given assistance to those less well-off, when such action squared with the richer state's overall objectives. Very few examples exist historically of selfless enlightened actions of this type. The U.S. government's decision to offer lend-lease aid -- described by Winston Churchill as "the least unsordid act in history" -- to Britain before the attack on Pearl Harbor, Hawaii, might be so regarded. More typically, the Marshall Plan's provision of aid to the economically beleaguered and politically traumatized states of western Europe after 1945 had at least as much to do with containment of the Soviet Union as with any idealistic commitment to international compassion for sister democracies temporarily disadvantaged by the economic consequences of waging total war. Most examples show a similar mixture of enlightened self-interest.
There are two broad but opposing views about foreign aid. The first is the widely accepted argument, stemming from the 1960s, that the provision of resources by the rich world to help those who, for whatever reason, have not been so fortunate is progressive and therefore desirable. This view corresponded conveniently with any residual European guilt over imperialism and chimed well with the need to demonstrate to the Third World that the ideological blandishments of the Soviet Union, coupled with its military assistance, were no substitute for hard cash from the West. The high point of this argument came with the publication of the Brandt Commission ( 1983) report in the early 1980s. The commission argued that it was in the in-