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Is it reasonable for a free and rights-respecting country to send temporary foreign aid to a distressed economic partner with the ultimate goal of returning it to peak economic performance and trade as soon as possible?

Take for instance Japan after the tsunami; is it right for the United States to act in its own self-interest to send aid to Japan to more quickly return the country to its optimal economic output for our needs?

Or is all aid, regardless of the nobility of the cause, an immoral distribution of wealth?

asked May 22 '11 at 19:40

JK%20Gregg's gravatar image

JK Gregg ♦
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edited May 23 '11 at 00:06

Greg%20Perkins's gravatar image

Greg Perkins ♦♦
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The ends don't justify the means.

(May 22 '11 at 21:14) Marnee Dearman ♦ Marnee%20Dearman's gravatar image

The important thing is how the money is collected for said aid: voluntarily, or by taxation.

Properly speaking, the government is not the economic agent of its citizens. It is as wrong to tax citizens to help foreigners as it is wrong to tax citizens to help other citizens.

Morally, it is right to help one's trading partners, since they are instrumental in improving one's life. A dependable trader is like a good friend -- you are glad when they succeed, because they are a source of something you trade for. When they are harmed, it makes sense to provide aid to them.

But some people (especially politicians) overgeneralize on the above point, acting as if everyone in the world is everyone else's trading partner, and so is deserving of aid from everyone else. But the fact remains: only some people are your trading partners, and you know who they are.

The choice of whom to help morally must be made by the provider of the aid. If you are not choosing whom you help, you are a slave.

answered May 23 '11 at 12:53

John%20Paquette's gravatar image

John Paquette ♦
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To put a twist on it, is there ever a context in which it is proper to use government (i.e., military) resources to provide nonmilitary aid in furtherance of a legitimate foreign policy goal? The best example I can think of is the Berlin Airlift, which was a foreign policy success in that it broke the Soviet blockade of West Berlin at a far lower cost in lives and materiel than direct military action would have done.

(Dec 09 '12 at 17:39) El Manantial El%20Manantial's gravatar image

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Asked: May 22 '11 at 19:40

Seen: 1,597 times

Last updated: Dec 09 '12 at 17:39