Is U.S. Foreign Aid A Waste?
Start writing a post
Politics

Is U.S. Foreign Aid A Waste?

Many argue that foreign aid is a waste. Is that an accurate statement?

101
Is U.S. Foreign Aid A Waste?

The United States started popularizing foreign aid shortly after WWII with the Marshall Plan. This plan was one of the largest foreign aid propositions in United States history, giving approximately $100 billion to Europe to assist in their rebuilding efforts. The largest recipient of Marshall Plan funds was the United Kingdom. Since then, the United States has begun to engage in a variety of other foreign aid efforts. But the question still stands: does our foreign aid to developing countries actually help?

There are some who say no. In fact, they argue for the complete elimination of foreign aid to developing (most frequently, African) countries.

Before we can fully assess the impacts of American foreign aid, we must first understand the two types of aid the United States distributes. The first type is military aid. This is a broad category that encompasses all forms of monetary, training, and non-U.N. peacekeeping aid (Note: this monetary aid goes to acquiring defense equipment for other countries.). The second type of aid is known as economic assistance. As one can imagine, economic assistance includes but is not limited to food aid, clean drinking water, and other life necessities.

In 2017, the United States distributed $14.7 million in economic assistance and $14.77 million of military aid. There are, however, some who are concerned that the economic assistance provided to certain countries is ineffective. A prime example of this frustration is a statement by former U.S. Secretary of the Treasury Paul O'Neill. On a trip to Africa, O'Neill said, "We've spent trillions of dollars on these problems and have damn near nothing to show for it."

People who hold this belief simultaneously argue that African governments are squandering the money, whether through corruption or ineffective use.

According to Jeffery Sachs, a world-renowned international macroeconomist at Columbia University, it's a common misconception that our aid to Africa has been useless. Sachs alleges that our aid to Africa has been in relatively low amounts: only $12 per person. In fact, he says that in 2002 it was significantly less, only $3 per person. That being said, it is no surprise that we see little to no change. Moreover, the impacts of government on economic development are limited, says Sachs. Rather than a causal relationship (that good government causes economic success), they go together. As one advances, so does the other and vice versa.

While Sachs provides strong reasoning, many still aren't convinced. It may not be surprising to learn that this issue is heavily studied within economics. William Easterly offers a differing perspective, suggesting a theory of perverse incentives for governments (African or not) to squander the money they receive through foreign aid. If the government effectively uses aid to build capital and solve their problems, they'll be less likely to receive as much if any aid in the coming years. So, argues Easterly, there becomes an incentive to limit growth and development.

So what's the remedy? Again, the economists are still out on this one. It has been suggested that the United States start offering conditional aid, meaning that the U.S. will offer a country a certain amount of aid based on whether they change their policies, spend the money well, and avoid corruption. Others argue that we simply need to offer more money to these countries, citing the above stated figures. The reality is that global economic policy is difficult and complicated to effectively resolve. It will be years before developing countries see strong positive growth.

Report this Content
This article has not been reviewed by Odyssey HQ and solely reflects the ideas and opinions of the creator.
Pexels

Let me just say, first and foremost, happy Thanksgiving! This holiday is known as a time for families to get together, to be thankful for the blessings in our lives, and to dig into a lot of very delicious food that you'll be having as leftovers for the next week. However, this family time is certainly not without downsides, as we are forced to confront certain family members on matters that should best be left out of Thanksgiving discussion, and in my case, this happens to be my father, who is the only republican in our family (that I know of).

(FYI: Since I still live with my dad, it's not just Thanksgiving when I'm forced to listen to him talk about politics, as I had gotten a taste of where he stands just from earlier this year alone.)

Keep Reading... Show less
Peter Truong

If you still have not figured out what you want to cook on Thanksgiving, baked macaroni and cheese is something worth considering. It is simple, affordable, and delicious. I have had many different types of baked mac and cheese and most are dry. I do not like a dry mac and cheese, it just does not seem appealing to me. If you like the creamy cheesy essence of mac and cheese, look no further, this recipe is for you.

Ingredients:

Keep Reading... Show less

As a first-year college student, I've been doing a lot of meeting and introducing myself to people, often with the classic format of "name, hometown, major".

Keep Reading... Show less
Health and Wellness

This Simple 7-Step DIY Face Mask Combines Safety — And Sustainability

Instead of studying like I intended on doing today, I made a face mask for some reason and thought I'd share how I did.

75988

If you were looking for a simple way to make a mask, I am happy to share how I personally make them. I have a pretty small face in general, so I prefer having my homemade ones so they fit better. This is also a great alternative to just throwing away any clothes! Before starting, you will need to make sure you have fabric, thread, a needle, and pins; if you have a sewing machine, you obviously could use that instead of hand sewing it.

Keep Reading... Show less
Student Life

6 Ways To Handle The Stress Of Earning Your Degree From Your Childhood Bedroom

Oh so this was the room where I snuck cookies upstairs past my bedtime and stole R-Rated movies to watch when my parents were asleep and now I'm expected to earn my degree in this very same room?

41581
Photo by Aaron Burden on Unsplash

It's definitely not easy, but it's something so many kids are struggling with right now.

Keep Reading... Show less

November is such an underrated month. With all the excitement that comes with Halloween ending and the holiday season around the corner, some people skip over it and go straight to their Christmas playlist. For me though, November is the perfect time to compile a playlist of songs that bring on major nostalgia which I think is perfect for this time of year. If you're looking for something to get you in that thankful spirit before you head into the Christmas spirit or something to play while you enjoy Friendsgiving, here are some go-to songs to add to your November playlist.

Keep Reading... Show less

Taylor Swift is famous for her Easter eggs on social media that hint at what is coming next for her. Over the past few days, fans noticed a change in Swift's hair when she was accepting her win as Apple's songwriter of the year that was reminiscent of the "Red" era. Of course, this has caused widespread speculation that Swift has begun to re-record her masters.

Keep Reading... Show less

While joyful, the holiday season can also be stressful for many and that's A-O.K. Plus, with the added tension that is 2020, this year's holiday season is a lot, to put it simply.

This is your reminder to put yourself first and listen to what you're yearning for. Deep down, you know what you need to thrive and I know that you can get there.

Keep Reading... Show less
Facebook Comments