“Foreign aid is poor people in rich countries, taxed to fund rich dictators in poor countries”. –Ron Paul
The US-funded dictator of North Korea recently died (well, ascended to heaven carried by angels surrounded by miraculous portents, if you believe the testimony of the North Korean press). The US government celebrated by sending an emergency shipment of foreign aid to keep his son in power.
The on-budget US budget deficit this year will be around 1.65 trillion dollars. This “on-the-books” figure doesn’t include Social Security, Medicare, prescription-drug benefit, the war with Iran, or off-the-books Federal Reserve bailouts of foreign banks. Even the “official” national debt is now larger than our GDP, at over $15.2 trillion dollars.
Now it would be bad if we were just borrowing this much money. But at this point no one will buy that many US bonds anymore, so for much of this credit card spree the US Federal Reserve will print money and buy our own bonds. This is the sort of “finance” technique used by Zimbabwe (former issuer of the $100 trillion dollar note, before they declared their currency officially defunct a couple years ago). If we keep acting like Bernie Madoff, holders of the US debt could decide to dump our shaky bonds and send interest rates into double digits.
So perhaps we should be trimming just a tad more from Federal spending. There are many candidates for the axe; the USDA paying farmers not to grow food, the continuing subsidy of Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac to get people into shaky mortgages (and banks out of them), the apparently permanent bailouts for every politically connected bank, car company, and union.
But none of the domestic boondoggles compares in pure evil to our various “Aid to Dependent Dictators” programs. Lucky recipients of US foreign aid have included Joseph Stalin, Idi Amin, Julius Nyerere, the Duvalier dynasty in Haiti, Fidel Castro, Pol Pot (still the all-time Heart of Darkness record holder for “percentage of population massacred”, at around 25%), Kim Il-Sung, Kim Jong-il, Kim Jong Un (apparently you can inherit foreign aid), Ho Chi Minh, the Taliban, and hundreds more. Nearly every dictator and oligarch that came to power since WWII has been on the US dole.
Dictators make expensive welfare clients. As Senator Rand Paul recently pointed out, we blew more than $60 billion just on Egypt’s Mubarak, $60 billion now down the drain. Supporters of Israel may note that we give five times as much support to Muslim nations as to Israel… and some of that support paid for the only Islamic nuclear bombs (Pakistan’s). Add up all our Mubaraks, and it comes to real money. Obama surged official foreign aid in his first budget; last year it totaled over $48 billion, up from $23 billion in 2006.
This doesn’t include our military expenditures to prop up totalitarian regimes around the globe, or the TARP money that went to foreign banks and corporations, or World Bank and IMF “loans” which are refinanced and never repaid, or our ~$75 billion intelligence black budgets (much of which goes to foreign intelligence agencies like the Pakistani ISI, which still funds the Taliban), or the even more secret world of Federal Reserve bank bailouts. Ever since the Fed bailed out the Sudan government in 1980 to fund the early stages of the Darfur massacres, they have been “monetizing” the defaulted bonds of dictators worldwide).
And don’t forget, we have to borrow all the money that pays for the warlords’ harems. We’ve borrowed over $1.2 trillion from the Chinese dictatorship alone, so that we can pass the debt and the interest payments on to our great-grandchildren.
Foreign Aid Buys Concentration Camps, Not Care Packages
Suffice to say that the on-budget foreign aid is just the tip of the iceberg. But surely some of this spending is worthwhile? Surely, at least, our taxes are improving the quality of dictatorship that people receive?
Well, let’s look at a few concrete examples. In one stroke of foreign policy genius, we bought two nuclear reactors for North Korea. This was a bipartisan project, started by the Clinton Administration and completed by Bush. These reactors are newer than any operating in the US. US foreign aid gave 1990s nuclear technology to the god-kings of North Korea. Now we are asked to pay more to defend the world (and ourselves) from the growing North Korean nuclear threat.
I already mentioned aid to Pol Pot. Let me emphasize that he continued to receive our money even after his record-breaking genocides.
The Sudanese government has also been an advocate of genocide as a way to solve those difficult social problems (such as how to get other people off land that contains oil). Naturally the Sudanese have been major aid recipients for decades.
Currently, our money is going to prop up ‘our’ warlords in Afghanistan (many of whom were formerly Soviet warlords in Afghanistan). Just to be fair, our money also leaks into Taliban hands through the Pakistani ISI, and according to the GAO, $500 million per year through “protection money” paid by contractors on US-funded aid projects. So we’re paying for both sides of a war and leaving our soldiers standing in the middle.
Even where we take over a foreign government completely, we don’t exactly bring free enterprise and democracy. In Iraq, we established Sharia law in the Shiite south, forcing millions of women into burqas. In all of Iraq, we established a Socialist economy, paid for by US tax dollars. US troops were sent to kick down doors in the middle of the night to enforce government price controls on gasoline and other market commodities.
Private charity aid is wonderful; it helps people in disasters and communicates human fellowship across borders. But aid to dictators is not charity. It merely frees them from economic reality and allows them to become monsters. No matter how bad a politician’s character, without foreign aid he has to allow some economic freedom… or he’ll have nothing to steal.
If we want to help the poor in other nations, that is easy to do. All we need to do is stop propping up their dictators. And then we could cut the taxes and inflation on our own poor here at home. Ron Paul is the only Presidential candidate that wants to end Aid to Dependent Dictators… and let’s face it, if a candidate won’t stop sending your money to foreign dictators, they won’t cut any other government spending either.
The next time a dictator dies, let’s just stay home and play “ding dong the witch is dead”.
US Energy aid to North Korea, from the Congressional Research Service: