A quote from Thomas Szasz:
The proverb warns that 'You should not bite the hand that feeds you.' But maybe you should, if it prevents you from feeding yourself.
There is a real need for direct aid in many circumstances such as the aftermath of war or natural disasters, but we can also help people help themselves. One was is to use micro-finance enable real people improve their lives and it can be done through an organisation called Kiva. Kiva lets you "lend to a specific entrepreneur in the developing world - empowering them to lift themselves out of poverty".
I first learned of Kiva through Grateful Guy. His blog is worth a visit in itself, if only to put your own day into perspective. Every day he writes a list of things he is grateful for - coffee seems to figure quite highly - and really it does make you sit back and think. So now you see, I'm grateful to him.
Updated to add the link to Grateful Guy - why didn't someone tell me! :)