Re: Aid for Afghanistan

From: Technotranscendence (
Date: Mon Dec 31 2001 - 07:36:03 MST

Not much time to participate in this thread fully, but let me make a few

One, I don't think tax money should be taken at all. So, there can be
no moral justification for tax funded aid to Afghanistan. I did not
bomb Afghanistan. Nor did I voluntarily support said bombing. In fact,
I've been against the war from the start -- and probably every military
effort of the US that has happened in my adult life -- e.g., the Persian
Gulf War and the wars in the Balkans. (Those who did support the war
are another matter. I did not.)

This does not mean I'm against voluntarily funded charity for
Afghanistan -- or for anyone for that matter. There's a world of
difference between tax-funded aid and voluntary aid. I think if you're
really for helping Afghanis -- or anyone for that matter and you have
the means to do so -- and many on this list are certainly not lacking in
such -- then such charity is the way to go. It also allows the givers a
lot more discretion over how the whole project plays out -- since the
"exit option" of not funding a given effort is always there.
(Government foreign aid is veyr different. You have "veto option" --
i.e., your vote or lobbying power is really the only way you can change
how its down. Good luck with changing the government!:)

Two, whether money goes to American companies or not is really beside
the point. Even so, there are problems with demanding foreign aid go
specifically to American companies. This will create a powerful lobby
to maintain or extend aid in this particular case. In effect, it will
become another corporate welfare scheme -- i.e., American taxpayers
looted to benefit of some American firms. It might also lead to other
such schemes in future conflicts as companies line up at the feeding
trough for foreign aid handouts. (In fact, the same already happens
with the Export-Import Bank -- Boeing is the biggest beneficiary and one
of the loudest lobbiest for it. BTW, Saudi Arabia is the biggest
foreign beneficiary of the bank. The loans the EIB guarantees -- with
US taxpayer dollars -- are mostly for Boeing to sell planes to the
Saudis. Last I heard, the Saudis weren't exactly poor. Also, the EIB
generally runs at a loss, so it's even doubtful to say it does more than
transfer money from the taxpayer to the Boeing.)

Three, I don't think that foreign aid will necessarily stop terrorism.
It certainly did not do so in Egypt. The US doles out billions in
foreign aid to Egypt, yet most Al Queda terrorists come from Egypt and
Saudi Arabia. This doesn't sound like a success story to me. At the
very least, how foreign aid is done should be questioned. You might not
come away agreeing with me on eliminating foreign aid -- and this goes
for all countries NOT just the US -- but you will probably want to see
many changes. (Whether or not these changes will work is another
matter. Merely reforming the system probably will just create new
winners and losers or make the current winners change their strategies
to stay winners.)

Happy New Year to all humanity!

Daniel Ust

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