The Plague We Spread
Editorial from the Indianapolis Star, December 15, 1956.
Doctors have come around to the idea that often the best way to heal an injury is to get the patient on his own two feet under his own power and let nature do the job. American foreign policy planners ought to take a good look at the theory. Coddling the patient certainly hasn’t worked out for them.
Great Britain has just wangled a $1,300,000,000 loan from the International Monetary Fund, which gets most of its capital from the United States. Also, the British are about to get $81,600,000 more from Uncle Sam in interest they won’t have to pay on wartime loans. All this is supposed to help pull Britain out of a very real economic disaster brought on by the Anglo-French adventure in Egypt.
No one in his right senses wants to see Britain collapse. Whatever must be done to bring our traditional Allies back to national strength should be done. It should mean something, however, that American dollars have been pouring into the British Isles to "shore up" the British economy ever since World War II—and Britain has grown progressively weaker. Not so many years ago, a little thing like the “Suez war" would scarcely have been noticed in the British exchequer. Evidently, permitting the British government to make indirect withholding levies on the wages of American workers has not cured what ails our friends.
The thing we have overlooked is that national strength creates wealth in any country, but in no country can outside wealth create national strength. Our foreign aid dollars have shielded weakness until the weakness has become almost permanent in many countries. We kept picking up the tabs for socialistic experiments in Great Britain. We paid the bills for British preparedness while the British, not needing to worry about where the money was coming from, went about nationalizing industries, providing cradle-to-grave "social security" and generally moving toward collectivism. We never gave them a chance to get a good look at the results. Our dollars made it seem that everything was just dandy.
It was the same, and it is still the same, in more than a score of other countries. Fatheaded leaders have taken their peoples far down the withering road of socialism, and the people can’t see the failure of their systems because they are propped up by American dollars. They can’t see their own economic disease because its symptoms are hidden behind an American checkbook.
Germany‘s complete recovery from what seemed like total destruction in World War II is no accident. The Germans had their fill of socialistic measures under Hitler. When he was gone, they set to work on the capitalistic pattern, with private initiative and enterprise as their themes. They had the biggest job of reconstruction to do, and because it was so enormous, they chose the most efficient way to do the job. Today their economy is the strongest in Europe. That, too, ought to mean something.
What it means is that the rotten systems of Europe will continue to breed economic and social disease until the peoples of Europe can get a clear look at their own weaknesses. They will never do it until American dollars quit making unworkable systems look as though they’re working. It’s long past time to put the patient on his feet, so he may know that only his own strength will cure him.
Uncle Sam’s continued handouts to smugly bedridden nations can only mean complete paralysis in the end.
Ideas on Liberty: But Is It Help?
Let it be borne in mind that the worthy are to be helped, and the unworthy are to be cured. Let it also be recollected that the worthy poor almost never beg, and that out of every thousand beggars infesting the streets and visiting the houses of cities, probably not more than one is a proper subject for alms. All this may sound very harsh to those good souls who say to themselves that, having the comforts of life, it would be wicked in them to refuse a dime to a brother man who is in want, and who also say that it were better to help nine unworthy than suffer one worthy to go unhelped. But is it "help"? The gist of the question lies there. If a man prefer begging to work, and you keep him from work and at begging, are you "helping" that man? Are you not injuring that man and the whole community?
Charles F. Deems, "Street-Begging" From The North American Review, January 1881