Libertarian way to be a global humanist


I have recently been convinced that neither Liberals nor Conservatives are global humanitarians anymore.

Caring for your fellow man is a prime tenant of every major religion and is at the heart of most philosophies. But in the current American political landscape, aid has been coopted by the government and is being obfuscated so the real meaning of global humanitarianism is lost. It should be people helping people.

Liberals see the path to humanism through government-led foreign aid. No matter how noble and well-intentioned it may be, in reality all it does is support the status quo. Look no further than the billions of dollars that have been sunk into Africa and the lack of results – there is violence, poverty and warfare on the same levels as there were 20 years ago. The money is siphoned through corrupt governments and warlords, and the people who actually need the resources receive pennies on the dollar.

Even Conservatives think of themselves as humanists as they gallop across the world to militarily intervene in any conflict to help the supposed little guy defeat oppression. Again: No matter how well-meaning, Conservatives must separate themselves from theoretical gains and live in the real world. Throughout American history, foreign intervention has created enemies, killed civilians and destroyed economic progress.

The real path to peace, prosperity and an upward economic mobility is through trade and commerce.

Since the development of modern economics, technological and societal advances have been on a scale never before seen in human history. We are able to create medicines that save lives, which mere years ago would have surely been terminal; we are able to travel the cosmos, which is something man has dreamed of since we started assigning supernatural powers to the stars; and we are able to communicate instantly throughout the world and beyond, which is something that was unheard of even 50 years ago.

But more importantly, we have lifted more than a billion humans from abject poverty over the last century due to economic freedom and the advances that spring forthwith.

If people are serious about helping others they should look into programs such as Kiva, a micro-lending system which allows people to lend to others in Third World nations.

I choose how much I wish to lend, I choose the reason for offering the loan and I choose when I am able to afford the loan. And, to be extremely clear, it is a loan – not a gift.

Rather than national governments extorting taxes from its citizens to give to other governments so they can decide which politically connected class or segment of society receives the donations, Kiva is a person-to-person lending system.

Borrowers must submit a prospectus so lenders can decide where their capital is best used. But it isn’t as callous or impersonal as critics claim international bankers or the International Monetary Fund are. There is no return on investments to worry about. The interest from the loan is used to pay for the system, and the principle can either be withdrawn from the system upon repayment or can be used to help some other entrepreneur.

Almost all of the participants seeking loans are existing successful businessmen and businesswomen in their respective communities who are seeking to expand their operation to increase their upward mobility.

This spirit is what has made America great, and now through economics and compassion, we are able to export this basic tenant the world over without governmental extortion or military conquest

Imagine what a few hundred dollars can do for a rural village businessperson in Darfur or Somalia.

I have been a member of Kiva and a lender for more than two years now, and have helped people from India to Lebanon to Peru. But more importantly, my fellow Kiva lenders have contributed more than $90 million since 2005, of which more than 80 percent is awarded to women entrepreneurs in 181 countries.

There are more than 500,000 lenders, but what is most encouraging is that lenders are not removing their money upon repayment – which has a 98 percent rate, which is better than most corporate banking institutions – lenders on average have reinvested five additional times since their initial loan.

Not only does this system work, it helps businesswomen in a way no other institution has ever – which is important because historically speaking they are the most oppressed and subjugated segment in society.

But more importantly, through practice it teaches people who are less fortunate and can’t afford higher education or formal business training real life lessons about finance and business which will continue to be taught long after the loan is repaid.

There are countless principles about basic economic freedom and liberty being taught throughout the world because of compassionate liberty-oriented lenders, rather than by governmental compulsion that usually runs counter to its stated goal.

To quote one Kiva proponent, “In a Libertarian world, all foreign aid would be Kiva-style.”