North Carolina’s Senator Sam Ervin was a conservative Democrat of the old stripe, and stern advocate of a balanced federal budget. He wisely counseled that Congress had two simple fiscal choices: either to levy taxes sufficient to cover its appropriations, or, reduce appropriations to match federal income.
Bernhard Thuersam, www.circa1865.org
Foreign Aid and Santa Claus
“The foreign aid program had a benign beginning in the Marshall Plan, which merits the highest praise because it rehabilitated Western Europe in large measure from the economic devastation of the Second World War. As the programs implementing this Plan were nearing final consummation, President [Harry] Truman appointed a Commission headed by Secretary of Commerce Charles P. Sawyer to study foreign aid and make recommendations concerning its future. [This Commission] made a thoughtful report pointing out infirmities inherent in indiscriminate programs of this nature, and suggested the wisdom of terminating foreign aid with the consummation of the Marshall Plan.
Unfortunately, the report was made about the time Dwight D. Eisenhower was elected President, and has been ignored in subsequent times. The United States could have had intelligent and productive foreign aid programs with much less expenditures since that time if it had restricted its aid to truly needy nations, and to the financially insufficient nations . . .
Instead of doing this, the United States has converted itself in large measure into an international Santa Claus, who scatters untold billions of dollars of the patrimony of our people among multitudes of foreign nations, some needy and some otherwise, in the pious hope that American can thereby purchase friends and peace in the international world, and induce some foreign nations to reform their internal affairs in ways pleasing to the dispensers of our largess.
On one occasion, the Administrator of Foreign Aid confessed to a House subcommittee, which had oversight of the matter, that he was unable to inform it at the time the names and numbers of the foreign nations then receiving foreign aid from the United States.
I voted for foreign aid during my first year in the Senate on the theory that it was 51 percent wise and 49 percent foolish. Afterwards, I opposed all foreign aid bills . . . [and] I reminded Senators that every cent our country had expended in financing the foreign aid programs had been obtained by deficit financing. I added:
“If an individual were to borrow money to give it away, his family would institute a lunacy proceeding against him and have a guardian named to manage his affairs on the ground he lacked the mental capacity to perform the task himself. But if an American politician advocates that the United States borrow money by deficit financing and scatter it abroad among potential friends and foes alike, he is likely to be elected President or Senator or Representative, or to be appointed Secretary of State of Administrator of Foreign Aid.”
(Preserving the Constitution, The Autobiography of Sam Ervin, The Michie Company, 1984, pp. 80-81)