SHOULD THE WEST BE DOING MORE TO HELP THE THIRD WORLD?

Every year billions of dollars in aid are benig send overseas to third world countries in order to help the people who live there to lead better lives. Despite decades of this practice and countless dollars, it seems sometimes that there has been little impact on the plight of the people receiving aid. It could be said that this is due to corruption, or to a developed dependance on aid resources, but whatever the reason, what's currently being done has not yet solved the underlying problem. So, is there a better solution? Is it worthwhile sending aid at all if the perceived impact is minimal? Is the actual impact greater than is obvious to those of us in the west?

Tags: 15, Big, Questions, aid, humanitarian, third, world

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Replies to This Discussion

As Americans, we have an obligation to help other people who aren't as fortunate as us. The ways we've been doing this have had mixed results, to say the least. One could argue that we should cease these efforts altogether and use that money here at home. Our foreign aid budget, however, is a small part of our federal budget. If we were to cut it out altogether, we would be creating a vacuum where other nations or movements could gain traction, putting our own interests at risk. What I'd suggest is that we spend our money more wisely, both abroad and at home. We should also make our help conditional. For instance, we should not send aid to countries that allow virulent Islamists to be taught and trained within their borders.
Yes.
I honestly think we should leave that to humanitarians and non-profit groups. As a country our government is here to aid it's citizens. I understand having a healthy foreign affairs policy but our government should be devoted to helping it's citizens. We're in an economic crisis and I see billions of dollars going towards other countries. That's tax dollars that I could use to feed my family. Not only that but if we are to help other countries we should send economic consultants in to guide and counsel other countries leadership into properly divesting their GDP. Besides if we're so apt to giving away money I could take some of it actually.

On another note if we're also that concerned with aiding other countries we could give better grants to private companies that we trust to go overseas and spread the love instead of doing it ourselves. Most of the time US humanitarian projects are just a way for us to have a presence in other countries.
I agree with Mr. Bricks. Being socially liberal but fiscally conservative (I know its cliche and used to death), I use the Kiva loan organization. You can make small loans (groups of people donate $25) to disadvantaged people around the world and they pay you back over a period of time. Mostly all they need is a couple hundred to buy more livestock, products, or to revamp their shop in order to become more competitive.

http://www.kiva.org/

Its small and simple but I think its much better than just handing them all they need or getting corrupt governments involved. This way they learn to help themselves, which is usually all they really want in the first place. Its just humans helping other humans without the agendas of politics or religion getting in the way.
I think the West is only encouraging dependency with the way things are done now. The money only goes to finance dictators, and seldom makes a real difference. As the OP said, we've been doing this for decades with no real results. The height of insanity is doing the same thing over and over and expecting a different result.

Like Mr. Martinez, I'm a big fan of Kiva. Much more transparent, apolitical and done on an individual level. People spending their own money will demand results. Politicians are only concerned with appearances.
For anyone wishing to explore this subject in detail, I recommend a book called "The Bottom Billion" by Collier. This is a phenomenal analysis of the causes of failed states and poverty throughout the world, including the relationship between the west and the third world. There are some very surprising conclusions reached when a statistical analysis is applied to impoverished nations. It is based on years of study, but it is still a very readable book. I'd consider it a must read for anyone interested in this topic.
For a quick overview, here's a link to his TED talk.
No. Any aid leaving the country should leave through purely altruistic means, via charities, etc. Its not the governments job to help other failed states just from the "goodness" of their heart/ How would they help? By spending money. And where does money come from? Taxpayers. Well what if I as a tax payer dont want to donate to the countries where the US is sending aid, or I disagree with the way in which the aid is being distributed? Well thats just too bad because its illegal not to pay your taxes and theyll throw you away. Try and resist that and they use violence against you to bring you in. Where Im from, taking money from someone against their will is called stealing, and it is for this reason taxes in general are a necessary evil and should be used to accommodate the most basic of needs.

All that being said, churches, charities, etc are NOT doing enough to help these people out of their own choice and they should feel obligated to help those less fortunate as it is a MORAL problem. Its not the governments business to legislate morality.
The United States, Great Britain, France, Germany, Japan, etc. What do these nations have in common? They all went from being undeveloped, poor, backwards nations to being world powers. And beyond that, they did it alone. Germany even managed to do it in the couple of decades after re-unification. Even Italy managed to do it. It seems to be an historical inevitability, much more so than communism. Western Europe did it after losing a third of its population. Given time, the Third World will advance.
They did have significant help from the marshall plan after world war two though. They were facing a famine, so we gave them 30 some billion 1946 dollars in foreign aid. They in turn bought US grain and other products, so it was really a win win. Its still to this date the largest amount the US has ever spent on foreign aid
That 30 some Billion wasn't exactly "foreign aid". That was actually a leasing policy for the US to build military posts and maintain a heavy presence in Germany for 50 years. Considering the insane amount of US controlled land in Germany and the span of 50 years 30 some Billion sounds about right for a leasing contract. Like I said before most US humanitarian aid projects are fronts for military presence around the globe.

To Cory "socially liberal but fiscally conservative" is basically libertarianism. There are a few other stipulations but it's about the same.

To Dave Tindall, saying that we should help those that aren't fortunate than us sounds a bit like saying that we are the most fortunate country in the world. A bit arrogant if you ask me. Even the bible says (not verbatim) get the thing out of your eye before you tell someone about the thing in theirs. (If anyone knows the actual verse and verbiage that would be nice.)
whos to say the third world needs help. what if by giving people a first world lifestlye were robbing them of their culture and traditions. If were handing out "aid" are we not just creating a welfare dependence syndrome? Would it not be better to give the third world the dignity thier due and alow them to choose how they "better themselves" or not.

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