October 21, 2010 12:44PM

The Awesome Power of a Very Bad Idea

Foreign aid, as many (including myself) have argued, is a very bad idea. Aside from encouraging corruption and helping to keep nasty dictators in power, it is a major disincentive to necessary political and economic reforms.

Considering how little evidence the advocates of further foreign aid have to support their case and spending cuts across the Atlantic, you would have thought that aid budgets in rich countries would be among the first to be cut. Not so in Great Britain.

The Conservative‐​Liberal coalition’s spending cuts have been hailed as the most dramatic since WWII. For example, the island nation will lose its aircraft carrier, its famous Harrier jump jet fleet and thousands of jobs in the military. The defense budget will shrink by 7.5 percent, while other departments will be cut by 19 percent on average.

The only two departments that will not see any cuts are the socialist National Health Service (a bottomless money pit) and, you have guessed it, foreign aid, which will see an actual increase by an astonishing 37 percent.

Many will remember the Blair/​Brown era for getting the UK involved in the Iraq War and bringing the country to the brink of bankruptcy. They should also remember it as an era that made support for foreign aid a badge of good citizenry — irrespective of common sense and all evidence to the contrary.