By Andrew Nusca
Posting in Cities
Republican U.S. presidential candidate Mitt Romney kicked off the final day of the Clinton Global Initiative's annual meeting with a resounding call for free enterprise where foreign aid has failed.
NEW YORK -- He never appeared completely comfortable, but his message was uttered with conviction: to give parts of the world an economic shot in the arm, free enterprise -- not foreign aid as it is today -- must spread unfettered.
That's the message that former Massachusetts governor Mitt Romney delivered here on the final day of the Clinton Global Initiative's annual meeting to a room full of international dignitaries, industry titans and political kingmakers. The Republican U.S. presidential candidate used the event to offer a peek into the worldview he would hold as the country's top executive as he campaigns toward Election Day in November, and he peppered his remarks with a bootstrapping ethos that urged America to take control of its destiny by letting others take control of theirs.
"Free enterprise can not only make us better off financially," Romney said to a room of hundreds packed into the Sheraton Hotel's Metropolitan Ballroom, "it can make us better people."
The former governor outlined his argument by citing the Boston-based youth service program City Year. (He helped preserve it from defunding, he said, after former U.S. president Bill Clinton asked him to after leaving office.) Preserving it enabled people to work for themselves and create a positive result -- improved schools, he said.
The U.S. should take the same approach with its foreign aid, often ineffective as currently structured, he said.
"You endeavor not only to comfort and assuage the pains of the afflicted," Romney said, "but also to change lives, through freedom, through free enterprise, through entrepreneurship, and through the incomparable dignity that is associated with work."
There are problems holding the United States back. Using foreign aid as an example, Romney said the U.S. needs to better leverage the "power of partnerships," the "transformative nature" of free enterprise and the "abundant resources" of the private sector to make efforts more effective.
The U.S. needs to focus on aid that "elevates people and brings about lasting change in communities and nations," he said.
"A lot of the foreign aid efforts that we put in place some years ago were designed at a time when governmental assistance was 70 percent of the resources flowing to developing nations," he said. "Today, 82 percent of the resources that flow to developing nations come from the private sector, not the governmental sector."
This would be a priority for a Romney administration, he said.
It's also a matter of taking control of America's destiny. "We somehow feel we're at the mercy of events, rather than shaping events," he said. Citing the events around the Arab Spring, Romney said that young people in that region have greater access to information than ever before -- and they just want to work. Enter American "Prosperity Pacts," which would "foster work and enterprise in the Middle East" in a way that existing U.S. foreign aid does not.
"The aim of a much larger share of our [foreign] aid must be the promotion of work and the fostering of free enterprise," he said. "Nothing we can do as a nation will change lives more effectively and permanently."
And what not to do? Implement aid that creates a culture of reliance on America's deep pockets. "Aid can't sustain an economy," Romney said, but an assistance program that "helps unleash free enterprise" can create "enduring prosperity."
"Economic freedom is the only force in history," he said, "that has lifted people out of poverty and helped them stay out of poverty."
Photo: Paul Morse/CGI
Sep 25, 2012
Maslow said that if the only tool you have is a hammer then you tend to see your problems as nails. What Mitt Romney is suggesting is the same remedy for the poor in the USA as he is suggesting for the poor countries. Mitt Romney only has one tool, it worked for him but why does he believe it works across the spectrum of culture?
This is unbelieveable the way you downgrade the free enterprise idea. I have seen no other alternatives from you arm chair intellects. We know that foreign aid does only fill the pockets of the ruling party and does little for the poor and hungry. Get a life and begin to understand that change is good if only to say we are going in a wrong direction and must modify our process.
The type of development free enterprise has always brought to the Third World is that which enriches the ruling elites, exploits the impoverished masses for cheap labor, and plunders the resources of their countries. They've already had plenty of that kind of "help".
...but it remains to be seen how this would look on a case by case basis. Industry investment in some developing nations has been criticized as economic imperialism & for supporting local autocracies even when jobs are well paid & working conditions are good. It's politically impractical to help create jobs elsewhere that compete with American labor.
This is a more complex problem than Romney states. The basic problem is that not all societies have the same degree of development as most western societies. In most cases, the ability of a culture to adapt to free enterprise is limited by its natural resources. The question to provide foreign aid or to let private enterprise is still a case by case decision. The poorest countries tend to lack the ability to set pricing on their resources and have to depend on fair deals by the richer countries. Even a stable country can be knocked down by a natural disaster like earthquakes, drought and floods; events that can destroy the resources needed to recover from the aftermath of those events. I see the free enterprise concept as an ideal that is rarely attained because of individuals wanting to maintain more control in such a way that it becomes impossible to enter the market to compete against them. There is also the bargain hunting that seeks to take advantage of weaker trading partners over keeping the trade fair for both parties. I object to the social darwinism implied in letting the poor compete against the rich in a free enterprise. In other words, if the poor follow the richs' rules then they will lose.
Mitt the Twitt said âFree enterprise can not only make us better off financially, it can make us better people.â Translation: Rich people ARE better people (especially if they exploit the poor). Mitt the Twitt said âYou endeavor not only to comfort and assuage the pains of the afflicted, but also to change lives, through freedom, through free enterprise, through entrepreneurship, and through the incomparable dignity that is associated with work.â Translation: Lets exploit the poor people of other nations as well as our own. We have a golden opportunity to put all sorts of poor people to work for next to nothing, and in the end, they will thank us for giving them the opportunity to be a slave for the handout and not have to beg for it. The bonus is that we will profit more and become even better people. Mitt the Twitt said âAid canât sustain an economy, but an assistance program that helps unleash free enterprise can create âenduring prosperity.â Translation: Only greed and exploitation can endure.
What Mitt Romney said is that allowing people to help themselves, instead of just giving money to whoever has the power to take it will help more people. That is the philosophy behind the Gamin Bank, and the entire microlending movement. It works.