Let’s talk foreign aid – the purpose, the goal, the cause and effect… and why we spend it. Because the topic is so large, I’ll focus on our aid to one country. We do the same to hundreds – literally – of others, but this is a good microcosm, a foundation to understand what’s going on with the tax dollars sent around the planet by the politicians you elect.
Ostensibly the purpose of foreign aid is to help others. It doesn’t. More on that below. It began in serious fashion during the Cold War. We sent money to countries. The Soviet Union sent money to countries. We wanted to buy their friendship – or at least their non-opposition. So did the Soviets. Some countries in the “non-aligned movement” played us off against each other; Egypt, for example. India. Others gladly took our money and enriched their ruling classes, leaving most of their citizens in poverty.
It’s been said that foreign aid is “The transfer of money from poor people in rich countries to rich people in poor countries.” Given the amount of money taken through force by the government from the Middle and Working Classes in America, how and where that money is spent, and the corruption of nearly all (all?) of the countries to whom our politicians give that money, this is difficult to argue against.
So let’s get specific.
Pakistan is a teeming, illiterate, ungovernable mess of a geography that is not really even a nation. Created by the Brits on withdrawal from India in 1948, Pakistan has been a violent place in which democracy never really took hold, in which the military occasionally overthrows the government and the government occasionally overthrows the military, and which constantly skirmishes with – or sends terrorists to – India. And they have nuclear weapons, arguably paid for by the American driver buying Saudi oil, those earnings used to fund Pakistan’s Sunni Bomb. And that’s on top of foreign aid dollars. (Why are we buying Saudi oil & funding the Sunni Bomb? Because Democrats won’t let us drill here.)
Since leaving the British sphere and coming increasingly under the sway of what today is called “Islamism” (but is brutal uneducated premodern savagery by another name), Pakistan’s living standards, education standards, environmental standards, clean water, rule of law, liberty and freedom all have regressed.
So, naturally, we send them billions of dollars a year to continue their corrupt, illiterate mess.
Here is a table of the aid we have sent Pakistan since 1948. All figures are adjusted to 2009 US dollars.
In 2010, America sent Pakistan $1.53B in military aid, $2.52B in USAID non-military aid, and another $1.22B in non-USAID “Economic Assistance.”
What did our $5.27B (that we borrowed from China, Japan, EU countries) get us?
A hotbed of terror, the cradle from which nearly all muslim terror has sprung, an illiterate mass of humanity that, unlike nearly any other species, routinely kills its own – and unlike ANY species does so for reasons of primitive ideology as recorded in a book few of them have the ability to read (how’s THAT for irony?). Oh – and a growing nuclear arsenal.
Think about the number for a moment: $5,270,000,000 dollars. Removed from our economy to be spent in the pre-modern world. Will that money advance science? No. Advance the environment? No. Cure diseases? No. Invent new technology? No. Advance individual liberty or freedom? No.
Put that $5.27B in perspective.
According to the US Census Bureau, the median income in the United States in the period 2008-2010 was $53,798. Basically, 100,000 Americans (97,959) worked the entire year of 2009… for Pakistan.
Not for their kids. Not for their communities. Not for their future, their nation, their education.
For 83,000,000 people who don’t care enough about their own future to learn to read.
In 2009, the US Labor Force averaged 154,188,500 workers. With 2,200 work hours in a year, the average hourly income of all American workers in 2009 was $24.45.
In 2009, 154,188,500 Americans gave all they earned in 216,510,000 hours of labor… to Pakistan’s ruling elites.
But, you say, they needed the military aid! From whom are we defending Pakistan? The more democratic India that Pakistan’s army (in Kashmir) can’t stop attacking… that Pakistan-based terrorists can’t stop killing?
We sent Pakistan military aid during the Cold War when the USSR was sending military aid to India, period. We keep sending it because we started sending it. (We also send it to India…)
Don’t pretend that aid makes sense or needs a reason. My brother was in the Peace Corps in 1977, teaching physics in Kabul. The Peace Corps was formed to help farmers raise crops and become independent. The American Peace Crops was prohibited by the Afghan government from working on farms. Why were we there? Simple – the Soviets were there. So we “taught” physics to people with barely a Jr-High education, who rejected the moon landings because the moon “is only the size of the space between your thumb and index finger, allah said so…” in order to sustain a presence.
Your tax dollars at work.
But – look at that aid number another way. We spent $1.53B in military aid that year. What did that include?
“The eighteen new [F16] aircraft being delivered to Pakistan [in 2009]…”Ok – so they got planes. Cool. They can’t read or feed themselves, so we gave them 18 new multi-million-dollar jets that cost millions to service and maintain, for whom it costs hundreds of thousands per pilot to train. Now Pakistan could spend money needed for food and education… on pilot training and aircraft servicing.
So we sent them $3.74B in food and education aid.
Does this make sense… to anyone?
Why, then, do we do it?
Two reasons. First, the F16 is made by General Dynamics, a Texas-based company with plenty of tax dollars to lobby Congress to buy stuff. So in large part, this is a transfer of your tax dollars to the salaries and stockholders of General Dynamics. Second, the government sells debt (T-bills) to raise money it wants to spend after it’s spent all its tax dollars. Who buys T-Bills, in their $10,000 denominations? The 1% – same guys who own all our politicians.
So – why did we send $5.2B to Pakistan in 2009? To give them aircraft they can’t afford, to prevent them from feeding and educating their own people (so they could man the jets), to enrich the 1% and defense industry here in America.
Pakistan can be a corrupt ungovernable illiterate mess without our supporting them by diverting the labor of millions of Americans to the 1% and General Dynamics… or the Pakistani hotbed of moral and intellectual squalor and barbaric violence.
But the interest on those T-Bills would not flow to the 1%, and the salaries of the defense industry would take a hit.
If we spent it to educate them, doing so would require tossing the Koran (which is not only not education, it is antithetical to education), allowing them to become capable of feeding themselves, encouraging their own liberty and freedom, developing the Rule of Law and free market capitalism – the ONLY way to improve living standards as history proves without exception.
In 1984, the then-new Finance Minister of Nigeria wrote a column for The Economist in which he noted that the beginning of modernization and industry, the beginning of the Middle Class and modernity and progress was the textile industry, so could the West PLEASE quit sending old clothes to Africa as it harmed their modernization. Have we listened? Nope. We keep sending clothes, shoes, and preventing the development of indigenous industry – and modernity. It’s almost like we WANT Africa to remain poor – that is EXACTLY what our “aid” accomplishes.
The American taxpayers vote for politicians who send the earnings of hundreds of millions of hours of American labor to teeming hellholes to prevent their own modernization… so they wouldn’t need our aid.
And electing these politicians makes sense to tens of millions of American voters.
Suppose for a second (won’t take longer than that, it’s so absurd), that we were smart enough to elect politicians who recognized the above and made copies of our Constitution our ONLY foreign aid.
Suppose we said, “Folks – here’s the deal: THIS is why we are rich enough to send you aid; follow it and you won’t need our aid anymore. See ya.”
But the Military Industrial complex against which Eisenhower warned us, and the 1%-ers invested in T-bills, would never allow their gravy train to stop, regardless of the damage it does domestically and internationally.
Foreign aid? To improve the lives of foreigners?
Surely you jest.
Foreign aid is a forcible transfer of income from the American Middle and Working Class to the 1% and the military industrial complex. Nothing more. Nothing less.
(So are the nonsensical “wars” we refuse to win, BTW.)
Foreign and military aid actively harms all outside the 1% and the military industrial complex.