Foreign Aid


Q: How do you feel about giving foreign aid in general?

A: Well, in principle I think we should give some foreign aid. [1] I think we have a moral obligation to try to help, especially when people are starving.[2] But I have a problem with a number of the ways that we go about doing it. First of all, I think we give kind of a lot, especially given all the problems we have here at home. [3]

Q: How much of the federal budget do you think goes to aid?

A: Hmm, about 20% or so. Probably that should be cut back some. Ten percent sounds pretty good. [4]

Q: How would you feel about spending 1%?

A: Oh, that’d be fine. [5] But the amount of spending isn’t the only thing I have a problem with. I think too much money goes to countries with poor human rights records, [6] and that probably about half of all the aid money ends up in the pockets of corrupt government officials there. [7] Hardly any of it really ends up helping the people who really need it. [8]

Q: Any other problems, while you are at it?

A: Actually yes. I am tired of the US always being the big sugar daddy.

Q: Well, the US is much bigger than other countries. Do you think that, as a share of its GNP, the US gives more than other countries?

A: Oh, definitely. I think every country, including the US, should give its fair share. [9]

Q: What other changes would you like to see?

A: Well, I would like to see more emphasis on helping poor countries. [10] Maybe we needed to use aid to keep countries on our side during the Cold War, but I don’t think that’s all that necessary now. I don’t really like the idea of using aid as a way of trying to influence other countries—you know, a bribe or something. [11] But I do feel quite good about helping the hungry. [12]

Q: But many of these really poor countries are far from here--in Africa, for example--and don’t have any real bearing on US interests.

A: Actually, I like the idea of aid going to Africa. They really need it there. [13] I don’t really buy all this talk about US national interests. If there are people hungry somewhere they should get aid, whether it serves the US interest or not. [14]

Q: So, are you saying you want to put all the money into humanitarian relief?

A: No, not just that. You know, if you give a man a fish he eats for a day, but if you teach a man to fish, he eats for a lifetime. So, I think it is important to help poor countries develop their economies [15]--you know, help educate them, things like that. [16] Overall, I feel better about giving them know-how than giving them things.

Q: So are you saying you would be willing to spend more to help poor countries?

A: Well, yeah, but it’s really important to me that other countries do their share. I really prefer to do things together with other countries, like working through the UN. Then we can be sure everybody else is pitching in. [17]

Q: How much of all development assistance do you think the US gives?

A: Gosh, I don’t know, maybe a third, maybe more. [18]

Q: How would you feel if the US gave about 12%?

A: No problem. [19]

Q: You know the 29 industrialized countries of the OECD recently set the goal of trying to cut world hunger in half by the year 2015. Is that the kind of thing you’d like to see the US be part of?

A: Yeah, that sounds great. [20]

Q: Do you think that is a feasible goal?

A: Sure, if all the wealthy countries pitched in. [21]

Q: Would you be willing to spend some money to see this happen?

A: Of course.

Q: How much do you think it would cost the average taxpayer in the industrialized world each year to fulfill this goal of cutting world hunger in half by the year 2015?

A: Oh, maybe about $50. [22]

Q: And would you be willing to pay that if the other countries would too?

A: Yeah. Sure. No problem. [23]