Let’s Vote On Foreign Aid With Our Wallets, Mr. Trump

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October 3, 2017 by Anders Ingemarson

A couple of weeks ago, Mr. Trump paid a visit to Turtle Bay. No, not the Hawaiian resort for a round of golf, mind you, but the headquarters of the United Nations for a round of rogue bashing.

For the most part the POTUS was characteristically candid, something that is refreshing in all matters U.N. related. He didn’t mince words when singling out North Korea, Iran and Venezuela. He also challenged the U.N. to get its act together and resolve the threat these nations pose to the world, or the U.S. would act unilaterally or together with its military partners to finish the job. With regards to substance, the speech appeared somewhat of a mish-mash balancing act between Neocon international activism and “America First” semi-isolationism (see Robert Tracinski’s insightful analysis at The Federalist for details).

The President’s message most likely satisfied his base which in general regards the U.N. with suspicion. Conspiracy theorists are part of its makeup, but for the most part the base has a healthy skepticism of the value that the U.N. provides for the tax payer funding contributed every year. For example, in 2016, American taxpayers funded 22% or $10 billion of the operating budget, despite our country only representing 4% of the world’s population and 6.6% of its landmass.

An argument may be made that the U.S.’s membership in the U.N. is a legitimate part of our foreign policy and therefore should be taxpayer funded—areas that were the core of Mr. Trump’s address. However, most of the U.N.’s activities are of little consequence to the protection of our country against foreign aggression, making the taxpayer funding argument hollow.

Here at SEPARATE! we are firm believers in the ability of individual Americans to determine how much value they place on the United Nations. We therefore propose replacing today’s taxpayer funding with voluntary contributions to the different U.N. agencies. If you’re passionate about peace keeping, your dollars may go to the U.N. Department of Peace Keeping Operations (DPKO). If a main concern of yours is the plight of children around the world, then the U.N. Children’s Fund (UNICEF) will likely receive a contribution. Or if the refugee situation in the world’s conflict zones is tearing your heart out—for example Syria, or most recently the Rohingya people fleeing Myanmar for their lives—a donation to the U.N High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) could provide you with peace of mind.

Under this system, the different U.N. agencies would compete in the marketplace for charitable contributions with the multitude of other organizations that are aiding people around the world. U.N agencies that showed results would probably attract more voluntary contributions than what they receive from the tax collector today. Agencies that didn’t—and that were not able to change direction—would most likely face slow demise and eventual extinction. Americans are the most generous people in the world, but also the most result oriented; if we feel that an organization is using our hard-earned dollars efficiently, we are the first to open our wallets, but if not, we go elsewhere.

And why stop with the United Nations? Let’s extend the same treatment to the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) and other agencies providing taxpayer funded “development assistance” to other countries in the billions every year.

The advantages with a system of voluntary contributions are obvious:

  • Fuel for conspiracy theorists will be scarcer (although admittedly, those so inclined probably move on to the next conspiracy).
  • Competing for funds in the free marketplace with all other charitable organizations will encourage both the U.N. and other taxpayer funded foreign aid organizations to become more efficient with the donors’ funds.
  • Politics will for the most part be removed from the equation; today’s tax financed foreign aid is all too often predicated on trade agreements and political favoritism.

But by far the most fundamental advantage is that separating state and foreign aid—whether contributed to the U.N., dispersed through USAID, or distributed through other organizations—strengthens the protection of and respect for the individual rights of all taxpaying Americans.

Ensuring that no funds are forcefully appropriated from us and distributed around the world against our convictions, instead letting each of us decide how to allocate our charitable dollars, is a small but logical part of making the larger moral case for separating state and the entire economy. And as a result, those who are truly deserving of our support are more likely to get it.

Fire away!

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