Point: Foreign aid risks mismanagement

The Party of the Right believes such aid is not effective in helping those living under despotic regimes; it helps string along those governments by keeping their starving populaces complacent; and it does not advance the human rights agenda we wish to see in these countries.

Part of the problem with foreign aid is that governments, by their very nature, are not very good at doing certain things, no matter how good our original intentions are.

The U.S. government cannot effectively distribute aid because it must respect national sovereignty, so aid must first go through Kim Jong Il’s corrupt government instead of being directly distributed. North Korean army officers sell foreign rice across the border in China, using the proceeds to buy lower-quality Chinese rice which they re-sell to impoverished North Koreans. This aid enriches the government while leaving its intended recipients as hungry as without foreign aid. We do as much good for the people of North Korea as if we stuffed money in army officers’ pockets.

We argue also that aid must be tied to moral progress towards human rights if it is to be effective. The opposition will argue that aid, even if a large percentage is siphoned off by the government before reaching its intended recipients, still eventually helps some people and that is better than helping no one. What this argument fails to realize, however, is that in absolute terms we continue to starve millions for the sake of a lucky few when we bail out despots with blank-check aid. The North Korean government is free to spend a large amount of its GDP on military expenditures — including a nuclear weapons program — instead of providing the economic prosperity needed to feed its people.

We ought to withhold aid until these governments make progress toward human rights, even if it hurts some recipients in the short run. It will benefit all under the rule of tyranny in the long run.

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