"Foreign Aid More About Helping Friends at Home"
Professor Brenberg and Pincin on Cronyism
“The goal of foreign aid should be to assist the needy,” write Professors Brian Brenberg and Jared Pincin, “not to protect special interests or serve the re-election goals of politicians.”
Writing in USA Today, Brenberg and Pincin argue that U.S. foreign aid programs are influenced by special interest groups and politicians. The authors point out that, “a significant portion of that food aid is ‘tied,’ which means the food must be sourced from U.S. suppliers and transported on U.S. ships, even if cheaper alternatives exist. The benefits of tying go to politically-connected companies in the U.S. at the expense of aid recipients.”
75% of foreign aid, for example, must be shipped on private U.S. commercial vessels, regardless of how economical that may be. “These policies translate into big gains for U.S. shipping interests, but an enormous loss for taxpayers and aid recipients,” Brenberg and Pincin write. One Cornell University report estimated that such policies cost American tax payers $140 million every year.
Why do such costly policies exist? A paper written by Professor Pincin, planned for release in the September, 2013 issue of Oxford Development Studies argues that “as competition for elected office intensifies, tied aid increases both absolutely and as a percentage of total aid.”
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