Freedom, From Want

“Why does foreign aid have such a dismal reputation in the country that financed the Marshall Plan? Maybe it’s the term itself (which may explain why it has been replaced by the studiously neutral ”official development assistance”). For many Americans, ”foreign aid” sounds suspiciously like ”welfare for foreigners.” We don’t like welfare, and we aren’t quite sure what to think about foreigners. What’s more, American giving typically proceeds from a sense of personal affiliation, whether to church or community or school; and we have, until very recently, thought of foreigners as a remote species. That era came to an end with 9/11, of course. In his Inaugural Address, President Bush vowed that ”all who live in tyranny and hopelessness” will find a staunch friend in the United States. For all those around the world who live in poverty, however, he made no such promise.” (New York Times Magazine)

The Republican aganda is really an extreme form of social Darwinism in which we owe nothing to those, domestic or foreign, who are less ‘fit’. By fit, of course, the president and his cronies mean well-connected to a revenue stream and to opportunities to plunder. This is most clear on the domestic front, where the welfare state is being dismantled — hey, America is the Land of Oppurtunuhty, it is not our fault if some people are too stupid to take advantage. But the same sentiment, as well as other time-honored American traditions like xenophobia, invests the Republican attitude to the unfortunates abroad.

And this from professed Christians? They ignore this passage in scripture, I am sure:

“Neither was there any among them that lacked: for those who were possessors of lands or houses sold them, and brought the prices of the things that were sold, And laid them down at the apostles’ feet: and distribution was made unto every man according as he had need.” (Acts 4:34-35)

This smacks abit too much of Marx’s cornerstone of socialist ideology, “…from each according to his ability, to each according to his need…”