INDONESIA: BITING THE HAND THAT FEEDS?
Government vs. Private Funding
By Craig R. Smith, CEO Swiss America
Jan 13, 2005

After all the government aid the U.S. has given Indonesia in the aftermath of the Tsunami, now Indonesia is becoming increasingly pickier, perhaps even approaching the stage of “biting the hand that feeds them.”

Although the Indonesian government has not yet totally given US the “right foot of fellowship,” they are placing onerous restrictions on foreign aid workers in their Aceh province. Effective immediately, all foreign aid workers must have escorts from the Indonesian military. They claim it is for safety reasons but workers are suspect of their motives. They just want to get the job done.

Groups including Save the Children have expressed concerns that these new restrictions could hamper relief efforts and harm the previously neutral status of aid workers who now might appear to be too closely tied with the Indonesian government with whom the indigenous/separatist Acehians have had problems for three decades.

It seems that no matter how much government money is given, we still appear to be the “Ugly Americans.”

In 2003, the U.S. gave $16 billion in foreign aid, including to the Tsunami-hit region. This represents 40% of all worldwide governmental humanitarian relief. Yet, the UN cries, “Too stingy.”

The Broke Leading the Broke!

My position is that the U.S. has no business being in the business of giving out taxpayer money to foreign nations. Our U.S. government commitment of $350M was far too generous, considering our growing national debt and trade deficit crises. If anything we should help with the form of a loan--not a gift--because giving a gift is the privilege of a creditor nation, not the debtor nation which we have become.

Keep in mind that the U.S. national debt has topped 7.5 TRILLION, causing the buying power of the U.S. dollar to drop to just 2 CENTS since the FED began printing money back in 1913. "Chilling" and "infeasible" are the words U.S. Comptroller General David Walker uses to describe the budget outlook.

Indonesia is rich in natural resources that could be used as collateral for loans, which would attract an abundance of global relief efforts funded by the free market, rather than by government fiat debt.

The private sector is better equipped, funded and mandated to provide needed relief and rebuilding efforts than the U.S. government – which is rapidly becoming "a house of debt."

If private citizen's decide to give to their favorite non-government charity to help these nations recover and rebuild their economy (an estimated $10 billion Tsunami relief gap), that is great! Let them do it. They will do a more efficient job anyway.

A Charitable Opportunity

My heart goes out to the Tsunami survivors and my prayer is that as individuals -- and as a nation -- we begin to understand that the reason America's economic freedom is in decline is that we have confused and expanded the role of civil government far "beyond our means."

In every disaster is a golden opportunity, but it is an opportunity for freedom-loving Americans to support charities that they feel will do the most good at the fastest pace--something which the U.S. government is proven to be ill-equipped to do.

IMAGE: An elephant which belongs to forest ministry removes debris Monday in Banda Aceh, Indonesia. (AP Photo/Eugene Hoshiko)

I recommend supporting charities that are consistent with each American's faith, so that multi-dimensional healing can be administered by those who best understand the Islamic worldview that pervades the region and find the needs and fill them -- without plunging the U.S. into further debt and deficits!

The story is told of the compassionate little boy who sees the struggling butterfly attempting to shed his cocoon, and decides to help the process along by prematurely cutting open the cocoon, only to discover his shortcut may cost the butterfly his very life. Sometimes, I feel like that little boy when I see those around me struggling through some of life's toughest challenges.

Our misguided government economic policy has, over the last three generations, attempted to become that compassionate little boy -- cutting open cocoons by the millions both here and abroad. The consequences are now all around us: unwed welfare mothers, fatherless children, non-productive men and women who are now co-dependent on a government check to survive, rather than placing their faith in God's hand of provision. Our government welfare policy produces perpetual immaturity at best, and possibly enslavement and hopelessness at worst.

What's the solution? To become more callused to the urgent needs of those around us? No, but Truth is the ultimate compassion. That is why we published “Restoring the Standard” in 2004 as a call for the return to fiscal truth and responsibility and less dependence on government for financial security.

Related Stories:
Indonesia cracks down on tsunami relief effort -AP -- Jan 13, 2005
UN reviewing Indonesia aid restrictions -Washington Times -- Jan. 13, 2005
Generosity – Public and Private by Ben Sikma -- Jan. 12, 2005
Stingy? by Bruce Bartlett, Townhall -- Dec. 31, 2004
If you love me, let me struggle -Craig Smith, True-Weatlh.com


DISCLAIMER: All of the provided information is believed to be accurate, however errors are possible. The opinions in the Commentary section do not necessarily reflect the opinions of Swiss America. Past performance of any investment is no guarantee of future performance. All investments have risk.

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