Wednesday, August 20, 2008

Foreign aid not constitutional -- Letter to the editor

From: "Bill Starr"
To: "Bob Gustin"
Cc: editorial at
Subject: Letter to the editor: Foreign aid not constitutional

The letter to the paper today from Gene Arnholt seemed to call out to me for a dissenting opinion.

Mr. Arnholt sings the praises of Indiana's U.S. senators and Bartholomew County's two representatives for their bipartisan support of the Lantos-Hyde Act pledging $48 billion of U.S. taxpayer dollars for foreign aid. This averages about $455 per household, based on 2000 U.S. Census Bureau figures.

I would have been proud to hear that my congressmen stood with Representative Ron Paul in principled opposition to all foreign aid. Unlike many in Congress today, Dr. Paul actually takes seriously his oath to measure all proposed legislation against the yardstick of the Constitution, without acting as if the general welfare or interstate commerce clauses give the federal government a blank check to do anything it wants.

Dr. Paul writes, "I certainly encourage every American concerned about HIV/AIDS, tuberculosis, and malaria overseas to voluntarily provide assistance to help alleviate the problem. But I do not believe it is appropriate – nor is it Constitutional – to forcibly take money from American citizens to send abroad." (

If you harbor any illusion that your "contribution" to this cause is not forcibly taken from you, just try withholding your household's $455 from your payment to the IRS and you will likely find out soon enough that it was not voluntary after all.

I am happy to give to charitable causes. I just believe that I and my fellow Americans should each be free to decide for ourselves to whom and how much we give, instead of Congress deciding those things for us.

I have no problem with members of Congress who wish to support worthy charitable causes. I just think they ought to dig into their own wallets, instead of mine and those of my fellow taxpayers. Congressman Davy Crockett concurred with this view in his article titled "Not Yours to Give" (

Mr. Arnholt also writes "This money represents the U.S.’ share of the resources needed to turn these diseases back... For years America has lagged far behind other rich nations in the percentage of Gross Domestic Product spent on foreign aid."

What he neglects to mention is that U.S. citizens voluntary charitable giving more than makes up for any perceived stinginess of the U.S. government (which only has our money to give away anyway).

In an article on 29 April 2007, the Washington Times reported that "U.S. private donors coughed up an estimated $95.2 billion in 2005 -- nearly four times the $27.6 billion spent in official foreign aid -- for schools, orphanages, medical clinics, supplies and other development programs in Africa, Latin America, Russia, Eastern Europe and Asia." (

So it is not as if private charity does not work, especially if the government would just stop insisting on doing our charitable giving for us.

As Albert Jay Nock wrote, "Once we might have been inclined to give a quarter to a beggar. Now, however... we might tell him that the State has confiscated our quarter for his benefit, and that he might as well go to the State about it."

Bill Starr
Columbus, Indiana
Wed, 20 Aug 2008, 9:29 pm EDT

You have my permission and encouragement to publish this as a letter to the editor.

cc: Senator Bayh, Senator Lugar, Representative Pence, Representative Hill (delivery failed; accepts no e-mails from out of his district), Representative Paul

The Republic, Columbus, Indiana, Page B4, Wed, 20 Aug 2008

From: Gene Arnholt
Received: Aug. 18

Congress has just passed a historic bill, the Lantos-Hyde U.S. Global Leadership against HIV/AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria Act of 2008.

It authorizes an unprecedented $48 billion over the next five years to fight three diseases which are killing 5 million people annually.

This money represents the U.S.’ share of the resources needed to turn these diseases back.

For years America has lagged far behind other rich nations in the percentage of Gross Domestic Product spent on foreign aid.

This time Congress has taken an important step toward the restoration of our standing as a just and caring nation, with the wisdom to invest in our collective future.

Thank you, Rep. Mike Pence, R-Ind., Rep. Baron Hill, D-Ind., Sen. Evan Bayh, D-Ind., and Sen. Richard Lugar, R-Ind., for voting for this bill, and thank you especially, Senator Lugar, for your leadership in working out the compromise that enabled passage in tne Senate. You make us proud of you and of our country.

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