(Note: this is taken from Dictator Watch's Saving Lives link.)

Our position on foreign aid is that, with rare exceptions, we are opposed to it. One of our governing philosophies (see the A101 homepage analysis) is a belief in personal responsibility. We - humans - are responsible for ourselves, for making the most of our lives, for making the most of our one chance to be alive, beginning with satisfying our basic needs and extending all the way through to our efforts to fulfill our highest needs, for love, creative expression, and wisdom. In all but the worst circumstances, where we truly do require help, to survive, if we accept outside assistance we are essentially abdicating this responsibility.

The consequences of this are wide-ranging. By accepting aid societies are basically saying that they are incapable of satisfying their own needs, even that they are inferior. (This has drastic psychological effects.) Also, substantial portions of foreign aid are usually stolen. The aid has to be distributed, and the aid sources usually depend on those individuals in the society who have the most prominence. Such individuals, however, inevitably succumb to the temptation to take some of the aid for themselves, and they also use their privileged positions to increase their own power. In this way aid programs typically fuel corruption, and dictatorial political structures, thus undermining the society's traditional values and its ability to develop democratic institutions.

In addition, foreign aid almost always has strings attached, including that the recipient societies must accept and implement the values and social development model favored by the sources of the aid. We reject this. We believe that all societies can and should make their own determinations about how they would like to develop, including, if they so choose, to reject the western consumerism/industrialism paradigm that is now being imposed all around the world. The only needs for which societies may require outside assistance include: humanitarian, in response to crisis situations, such as those caused by natural catastrophes and dictatorial governments (e.g., for refugees and internally displaced persons); and to construct a fundamental social infrastructure - one able to provide clean water, nutritious food, medical care, and education. Everything else, including roads, dams, power plants, electrical grids, and communication utilities, should be left up to the societies themselves, to decide via consensus, not through top down dictates by the social elite, if they truly want and need such things. (Then, if and where they do, the societies themselves should build them.)

Note: the above comments apply specifically to financial assistance. One might also take the position that other forms of assistance, from diplomatic pressure to economic sanctions and even the efforts of organizations such as Dictator Watch and Activism 101, are inappropriate. To this we respond that dictatorial social situations regularly take the form where the power imbalance in the society in question is so great that it cannot be ended without assistance from the outside. It is true that people get the government that they deserve, but in such situations the people subject to the dictatorship - who may be generations beyond the initial public that allowed the autocrats to first obtain power - are unable to put an end to it on their own.