Bush ... told the world that the United States would now get around to spending $674 million in emergency aid that Congress had already approved for needy countries. That's it. Not a penny more to buy treated mosquito nets to help save the thousands of children in Sierra Leone who die every year of preventable malaria. Nothing more to train and pay teachers so 11-year-old girls in Kenya may go to school. And not a cent more to help Ghana develop the programs it needs to get legions of young boys off the streets.
As Jeffrey Sachs, the Columbia University economist in charge of the United Nations' Millennium Project, put it so well, the notion that there is a flood of American aid going to Africa "is one of our great national myths."
This should not be the image Mr. Bush wants to project around a world that is intently watching American actions on this issue ... The American people have a great heart. President Bush needs to stop concealing it.
Is President Bush stopping the columnist from donating money for mosquito nets and teachers in Africa? What is Mr. Sachs doing to dispel that great American "myth"?
I mean, some way and somehow, Americans were able to privately provide $241 billion in total aid - domestic and international - in 2003, $12 billion of which came from corporations. Private charity to developed countries was $33.6 billion in 2000, well more than half of the total assistance to these countries. As the USAID report points out, "the United States is the clear leader in all measures of private assistance to the developing world" and "international giving by corporations has expanded to include cash and non-cash giving, cause-related marketing, and employee volunteer programs."
That said, monetary foreign aid – be it private or forced – will have limited effect so long as there are corrupt dictatorships, a lack of civil liberties, and shady governments that disallow free-market principles (and misuse/mishandle said aid provided to them). But at the end of the day, the blame for international poverty will still be placed at America’s doorstep.
Condemnations from Bono and Chris Martin on our penny-pinching ways expected soon.