by Michael Boldin
June 3, 2007

The US government is now giving your tax dollars to the Mexican government so that government can improve its ability to tap telephone calls and emails.

From the Los Angeles Times report:

Mexico is expanding its ability to tap telephone calls and e-mail using money from the U.S. government, a move that underlines how the country’s conservative government is increasingly willing to cooperate with U.S. on law enforcement.

The expansion comes as President Felipe Calderon is pushing to amend Mexico’s constitution to allow officials to tap phones without a judge’s approval in some cases.

The fact that the US federal government continues to support countries that violate liberty should come as no surprise, considering similar such violations domestically too. Although such a program would obviously be considered repugnant by people who love liberty, simply opposing this measure alone only scratches the surface of the real problem.

As the wise saying goes, “it’s not the abuse of power that we should be concerned with, but rather, the power to abuse.”

So how does this apply to this situation?

The principle here is quite simple. When the state is allowed to use the wealth of the people as “foreign aid,” politicians will always be liable to abuse that power. Thus, it’s not merely the funding of a spying program that we should be opposing, but rather, the concept of foreign aid as a whole.

Foreign aid is a system by which the American taxpayers are forced, in the name of national security or defense of the “free world,” or charity, or whatever the politicians tell us, to subsidize US export companies and prop up client states that are often ruled by dictators.

Constitutionally, of course, none of this spending is authorized. The US Constitution was written under what is referred to as “positive grant.” In short, what this means is that the federal government is authorized to engage in only those activities specifically authorized by the Constitution. Positive = authorized activities. Grant = specifically listed.

Just to make sure this principle was legally codified, the Tenth Amendment was included:

“The powers not delegated to the United States by the Constitution, nor prohibited by it to the States, are reserved to the States respectively, or to the people.”

There is no authorization to pay for spying in Mexico. There is no authorization to prop up dictators in places like Pakistan with your money. There is no authorization to spend your money on “military assistance” for other countries. There is no authorization to funnel money through the CIA to support regime changes. The Constitution was written in plain English – there is nothing there which authorizes the federal government to take your money and give it to foreign governments. For any reason.

But don’t take my word for it. Try reading the Constitution to see if you can find authorization to engage in such activities for yourself.

And, if Constitutionality is of no concern to you (obviously it’s of no concern to the politicians), there are still plenty of good, practical reasons why the government shouldn’t take your money and give it away as foreign aid.

One that I consider to be quite good is that forced “charity” is really not charity at all. It’s theft. If someone takes your money at the point of a gun and gives it to a good cause, it’s still stealing.

As a whole, American foreign aid has been a massive failure. Why? There’s plenty of reasons, but one of the main ones is that the countries that receive the money are corrupt. Even when money is sent out for a good cause, the local bureaucracies often eat up so much of it that very little good actually comes out of it.

What is not mentioned by proponents of foreign aid is that it very seldom gets to those who need it most. Foreign aid is the transfer of US dollars from the treasury of the United States to the governments of foreign countries. It is money that goes to help foreign elites, who in turn spend much of it on contracts with US corporations. This means US tax dollars ultimately go to well-connected US corporations operating overseas.

A 2003 report from a leading Bangladesh university estimated that 75 percent of all foreign aid received in that country is lost to corruption. Northwestern University political economist Jeffrey Winters estimated that more than 50 percent of World Bank aid is lost to corruption in some African countries. President Olusegun Obasanjo of Nigeria announced in 2002 that African leaders “have stolen at least $140 billion from their people in the decades since independence.”

Such a system is little more than a gigantic racket.

You’d think that logic would prevail in such a situation, right? A rational person would likely argue that failed programs should be ended, but not in Washington D.C. The politicians claim that failure means they just need even more money, which inevitably fails as well, and the cycle keeps repeating.

We simply do not have the billions of dollars to keep this going. This policy of endless spending has sunk the country into massive debt. A recent report by USA Today stated that the deficit was $1.3 Trillion – for 2006 alone! The federal government literally will have to borrow or print the money to cover this. There’s absolutely no way that we as a people can continue to pay for this.

Our annual foreign aid bill is one of the most egregious abuses of the taxpayer I can imagine. Not only is it an unconstitutional burden on you and every other American, but this yearly attempt to buy allies, and influence policy around the world incites hatred and has actually driven people to attack the United States.

This madness needs to stop.

Foreign aid is not only unconstitutional, but also extremely foolish. It draws this country into the worst kind of “entangling alliances” that the founders warned us about. It creates hatred and resentment, and makes us less safe.

If you’re concerned about high taxes, a tough job market, debt and the like, I recommend you start calling on the US government to start looking more closely at how the US government is spending your money. It is absurd, and completely immoral to take your money and give it to foreign countries. The money should be spent only on Constitutionally-authorized functions or, better yet, returned to you.

Michael Boldin

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