Since the end of World War II, generations of American taxpayers have watched their government spend well over $3 trillion on foreign aid. But most aid projects have failed to solve the long-term problems of poverty and bad governance, and they will never be able to succeed.
The biggest problem with foreign aid is that it often goes to countries that have troubled histories and deeply entrenched problems. In many of these countries, the most basic functions of government are totally unreliable. For example, Ethiopia, Nigeria, Pakistan, and Haiti have received billions in U.S. aid in recent years but remain corrupt, unstable, or undemocratic.
Too often, foreign aid actually reinforces these problems, making it harder for countries to fight corruption and establish more-democratic institutions. That’s because foreign aid can help corrupt regimes remain in power by giving them money and good-paying jobs for them to hand out as perks.