The aid Africa truly needs

I’ve said this among my close friends and family for a while: we need to stop sending so much money and aid to Africa. It’s just like giving hand-outs to homeless people. Not only that, but we have kids who are homeless or underfed here in America. Why do we keep sending food and money overseas when we can’t even take care of our own?

Today I found a perfect article that reiterates my argument, only in a better fashion because the interview is with an African who knows what the problems are. Der Speigel Online interviewed James Shikwaki, a Kenyan economics expert. Here are a few choice quotes:

“Huge bureaucracies are financed (with the aid money), corruption and complacency are promoted, Africans are taught to be beggars and not to be independent. In addition, development aid weakens the local markets everywhere and dampens the spirit of entrepreneurship that we so desperately need. As absurd as it may sound: Development aid is one of the reasons for Africa’s problems. If the West were to cancel these payments, normal Africans wouldn’t even notice. Only the functionaries would be hard hit. Which is why they maintain that the world would stop turning without this development aid.”

“.. and at some point, this corn ends up in the harbor of Mombasa. A portion of the corn often goes directly into the hands of unsrupulous politicians who then pass it on to their own tribe to boost their next election campaign. Another portion of the shipment ends up on the black market where the corn is dumped at extremely low prices. Local farmers may as well put down their hoes right away; no one can compete with the UN’s World Food Program. And because the farmers go under in the face of this pressure, Kenya would have no reserves to draw on if there actually were a famine next year. It’s a simple but fatal cycle.”

“If they really want to fight poverty, they should completely halt development aid and give Africa the opportunity to ensure its own survival. Currently, Africa is like a child that immediately cries for its babysitter when something goes wrong. Africa should stand on its own two feet.”

I believe it was Lyndon Johnson who essentially stated that the U.S. should be the world’s police. This not only applies to sending our “security forces” overseas but also being the number one contributor in international aid efforts. And since we have such close ties to many European countries, Europe is usually right behind us when it comes to helping out other countries.

If you study history, however, one thing tends to stand out. We typically only help those countries where there is a political benefit for us. The most obvious case I can think of is the supporting of the “banana republics” in the late 1800s and early 1900s. Because of American corporate interest in monopolizing banana growing in Central America, the U. S. government helped prop up these countries with governments that were friendly to our interests. About the only other political motivation I’ve noticed is when the U. S. looks bad for not getting involved.

I’m sure there’s more to all of this, as there always is in politics. But generally speaking, if politicians stayed out of politics, life would probably be better. I keep hearing that people in other countries continually say, “We don’t hate Americans. We just hate your politicians.” (or words to that effect). It’s not that America is a bad country; it’s just that our politicians can’t resist putting their grubby little fingers in everyone else’s pies.

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