Foreign aid

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In international relations, aid (also known as international aid, overseas aid, or foreign aid) is – from the perspective of governments – a voluntary transfer of resources from one country to another.


  • The test for aid to poor nations is therefore whether it makes them capable of being productive. If it fails to do so, it is likely to make them even poorer in the – not so very – long run.
    • Dean Acheson, Present at the Creation: My Years in the State Department (1969).
  • That's where all the foreign aid (which might be defined as a transfer from poor people in rich countries to rich people in poor countries) went as well. The U.S. government still squanders about $20 billion a year this way, and European governments spend proportionally even more; it's all gone straight down a giant rathole.
  • Is this Nation stating it cannot afford to spend an additional $600 million to help the developing nations of the world become strong and free and independent—an amount less than this country's annual outlay for lipstick, face cream, and chewing gum?
    • John F. Kennedy, remarks at the dinner of the Protestant Council of the City of New York, November 8, 1963. The Public Papers of the Presidents of the United States: John F. Kennedy, 1963, p. 842.
  • Our foreign aid program is not growing in size, it is, on the contrary, smaller now than in previous years. It has had its weaknesses, but we have undertaken to correct them. And the proper way of treating weaknesses is to replace them with strength, not to increase those weaknesses by emasculating essential programs. Dollar for dollar, in or out of government, there is no better form of investment in our national security than our much-abused foreign aid program.
  • Foreign aid goes from poor people in rich countries to rich people in poor countries.
    • Rand Paul, [1], Speech at University of Kentucky (March 27, 2013).
  • We have tried to make it clear that the United States is not just an old cow that gives more milk the more it is kicked in the flanks.
    • Dean Rusk, secretary of state, testimony, May 4, 1967. Foreign Assistance Act of 1967, hearings before the Committee on Foreign Affairs, House of Representatives, 90th Congress, 1st session, part 4, p. 844 (1967).
  • One of the most ridiculous defenses of foreign aid is that it is a very small part of our national income. If the average American set fire to a five-dollar bill, it would be an even smaller percentage of his annual income. But everyone would consider him foolish for doing it.
    • Thomas Sowell, Barbarians Inside the Gates and Other Controversial Essays (1999).
  • In short, countries with inefficient economies and corrupt governments are far more likely to receive foreign aid than to receive investments from people who are risking their own money. Put differently, the availability of foreign aid reduces the necessity for a country to restrict its investments to economically viable projects or to reduce its level of corruption.

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