Bull Moose Foreign Aid Policy

English: Berliners watching a C-54 land at Ber...
English: Berliners watching a C-54 land at Berlin Tempelhof Airport, 1948. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

In order to deliver effective assistance to people in need around the world, we need to adhere to three principles.

First, we need to recognize that foreign aid is not politically sustainable when America’s own social safety net is frayed, broken, or has turned into a hammock for those unwilling (as opposed to unable) to step away from public assistance. Charity begins at home, so let’s put Americans first in all instances.

Second, we still contend that people everywhere would rather have a hand-up than a handout. Our foreign assistance programs should be focused on locally-relevant projects designed to promote long-term self-sufficiency and economic development, not dependency without a deadline. Any outright aid should come with a deadline. Everything else should be left to NGOs.

Third, we should prioritize our help on those countries where the right amount of aid will make the difference between success and failure. Somalia is not our model: the Berlin airlift is.

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Author: David Wolf

An adviser to corporations and organizations on strategy, communications, and public affairs, David Wolf has been working and living in Beijing since 1995, and now divides his time between China and California. He also serves as a policy and industry analyst focused on innovative and creative industries, a futurist, and an amateur historian.

2 thoughts on “Bull Moose Foreign Aid Policy”

  1. A couple of recent books have made me realize that a large part of our foreign aid ends up in the numbered Swiss accounts of dictators and their henchmen. I think we must confirm that our aid was used as intended each year before giving more, but instead we automatically write another check, which is again kidnapped.

    The other concern I have is the apparently prominent belief that there are large numbers of welfare cheats. Now, there are some, and these often end up as unpaid guests of the state for a year or so. But the vast majority are using aid because they are injured, disabled, the frail elderly, etc. There will not be any significant budget savings in welfare.

    1. Aid is broken, that is certain. The fact that our experiences have not changed the way we give aid suggests the existence of an alliance of interest groups and Congressional personalities who do not want aid to go away. The Foreign-Aid Industrial Complex, anyone?

      As to welfare, I cannot speak to the number of recipients who are engaged in fraudulent behavior, but I assume those folks get caught. I am more concerned about creating permanent dependencies. We need a system that is focused on getting people as independent of government aid as possible. Heal the injured. Develop productive alternatives for the disabled. Do all that is possible to ensure that people are planning and saving for their old age starting at age 18, not at 65. What upsets me as a taxpayer is that we weren’t thinking about this when the baby-boomers were in their teens.

      This also means that we stop simply handing welfare checks to people with chemical dependencies. The answer for those poor souls is rescue, rehabilitation, retraining, and reentry. In the short term that is harder and more expensive. In the long term, we’re all better off, especially the individual concerned.

      In the end, I don’t care if we save a nickel. What I care about is that we are effectively doing everything we can to make people self-reliant, productive, and confident members of society. But the money must be spent well, not just thrown at the downcast.

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