Foreign Aid Fallacies

Dr. Walter Williams contrasts the situation in Botswana with that of Zimbabwe, and tackles foreign aid:

Botswana shares a heritage with Zimbabwe, for it, too, was a British colony. What it doesn’t share with Zimbabwe explains its success: the rule of law, minimal corruption and, most of all, respect for private property rights. No amount of western foreign aid can bring about the political and socioeconomic climate necessary for economic growth. Instead, foreign aid allows vicious dictators to remain in power. It enables them to buy the allegiance of cronies and the military equipment to oppress their own people, not to mention being able to set up “retirement” accounts in Swiss banks. The best thing westerners can do for Africa is to keep their money and their economic development “experts.”

There are some circumstances where foreign aid works, but only when a ruler has at least some concern for his people. Zimbabwe’s Mugabe lacks such concern, as do virtually all dictators and some democratically elected officials.

The same holds true of embargoes and economic sanctions. I am not aware of any instance where such measures have worked. Instead, they simply give dictators anti-American ammunition to instill in the people (who ultimately are punished by the sanctions far more than their authoritarian leaders).

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