Trade NOT Aid
Privately Americans gave $241 billion to charity, with roughly a 10th of it going overseas. Microsoft's Bill Gates has given billions for disease relief in the developing world. Pierre Omidyar, founder of eBay, set up a Web site to invite worldwide input on how to give away his $10 billion fortune. America's openness lets the world's poor earn money here and then send it home. In many poor countries (e.g., Mexico, India and the Philippines), foreign aid is dwarfed by remittances sent from family members working in America. That's money, some roughly $18 billion a year from the United States — that goes directly to households that need it, from somebody who directly understands their needs. It doesn't flow through government hands, subject to rake-offs and politically inspired diversions to worthless projects. The obsession with redistributing wealth misses the importance of creating it. The countries that prosper are those that want investment, not giveaways. Afghanistan's, Finance Minister Ashraf Ghani recently said the best things that could happen in his country would be for Western multinationals to begin investing in the region. "Trade, not aid," is a slogan adopted universally in the last few years by emerging democratic governments in the developing world. Trade tends to start the "virtuous cycle" of job opportunities, education and upward mobility in ways the pork-barrel aid has largely failed to achieve. Collin Levey of the N.Y. Post points out, "Bangladesh, one of the poorest countries on earth and hard hit in the latest disaster. Last year, it had to fork over roughly $300 million in tariffs for the privilege of making clothes for Americans and selling them here. Agriculture and textiles are traditionally the first rungs on the trade ladder. Yet to protect labor unions and farmers in America and Europe, we destroy these opportunities with various domestic subsidies and import quotas. This is an abomination, helping to keep countries poor and therefore more vulnerable to disasters like last weekend's tsunami than they would otherwise be."