In Case You Thought Foreign Aid Was About Helping the Poor


Foreign AidOnce again, I am here to share an email I got from some guy named Jim who lives in Washington, D.C., whom I’ve never met, but for some reason thinks he is my “representative.” We’ve actually become pen pals of sorts, though he insists on making me fill out a form to write to him, while he just sends me email directly.

In this series of discussion, we talk about foreign aid. You know, that stuff that lifts poor countries out of poverty (or so we’re told, even though this has never happened in the history of mankind). I’m glad Jim doesn’t pull that crap with me, but fully admits that the purpose of foreign aid is for the US to exert its dominance in the world.

Dear Mr. Fegley:

Thank you for contacting me regarding U.S. foreign aid. I appreciate hearing from you.

The U.S. government spends about one percent of the federal budget on assistance programs because we have vital strategic interests across the globe. Providing specific foreign assistance to strategically important countries gives us leverage and permits us to influence and otherwise affect decisions and events in those countries.

First of all, I would hate for the “about one percent of the federal budget” part to obscure the how much money that actually is. The actual reported expenditures of the US government in 2012 was $3.538 trillion dollars, according to the Congressional Budget Office. This means that over $35 billion was spent on “assistance programs.” This is $35 thousand million. Nothing to scoff at.

And, like my previous post regarding Jim, I ask questions about treating others like one would like to be treated. Does this idea go out of the window when it comes to foreign policy? What Jim is describing here, that is, giving money to other governments to influence their decision making, is also known as bribery. If you or I gave money to a politician in order to influence his or her decision making in an official capacity, we would be brought up on charges (unless we get away with it). There is absolutely no way most Americans would accept foreign governments paying the US government money in order to affect governmental decisions. This would obviously be a mockery of the idea of representative government. Kind of seems contradictory to “spreading democracy,” doesn’t it?

With all aid programs, it is important they are routinely scrutinized to determine if they are the best use of American taxpayer dollars, particularly in this difficult economic climate. I have supported efforts by Sen. Rand Paul, R-Ky., and others, to limit U.S. assistance to countries such as Egypt, Libya and Pakistan unless they cooperate with U.S. policies.

Yes, indeed. Withholding highway funding from states who don’t cooperate with US government policies ought to be considered extortion. But since Egyptians, Libyans and Pakistanis don’t pay taxes to the US government (that I know of), this ought to be considered a textbook definition of bribery.

As a member of the Committee on Foreign Relations, I closely monitor our aid programs around the world.

I really value your effort to get in touch with me to share your thoughts, as many Idahoans do. Please do not hesitate to contact me in the future on this or other issues.

Very Truly Yours

James E. Risch
United States Senator



3 responses »

  1. “gives us leverage and permits us to influence and otherwise affect decisions and events in those countries.”

    Um, “us” who? He means “permits AMERICA to influence…” In short, he is not acting as a representative of Idaho on this matter, he’s acting as a representative of “national” interests – which in reality means the interests of bureaucrats in DC’s Dept of State, Defense, etc. and their politically connected friends. Whether this conforms with the Constitution is a separate matter; the fact is, he does not speak for Idaho’s “vital strategic interests across the globe,” but something else altogether.

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