The United States of America is the best country on earth. I believe that with all my heart, despite its flaws, hiccups and aberrations in judgment. As a wealthy nation, we have felt that it is our duty to help others in need, and while it is usually a good thing, at times that aid to other nations has bitten us in the butt.
We give aid to other nations for a myriad of reasons: help after a natural disaster, military aid to countries that are being bullied or present an opportunity to protect our own interests, economic aid to countries that can become better world citizens with our help. Not all aid to foreign nations is a bad thing, but after four years of difficult economic times the question we should be asking is if we should be spending billions of dollars helping others when so many of our own are hurting?
Super Storm Sandy is a perfect example of what I mean. In 2010 there was a catastrophic earthquake in Haiti. The US sent more than $712 million dollars in various forms of aid relief from our government (not including the millions that we Americans gave in private donations to the Red Cross, Catholic Charities and others). We were the biggest contributor of aid to Haiti, and in my opinion we were because the rest of the world expects the US to step up and pony up.
Did the Haitian people need the help? Desperately, and I am proud that my country stepped in during situations like this. Flash forward to September. Super Storm Sandy hit and the most recent estimates of damage to US property on the East Coast is $50 billion. That’s BILLION. Will there be any worldwide governmental donations to help the US? Don’t hold your breath. So we give and give, and are expected to give and give, and when we are in need…
Ok, so aid in other forms that comes from the US to the world is in the form of military and economic aid. We give billions of dollars all over the world. A chart of where and how much we gave through 2010 can be found here: http://www.vaughns-1-pagers.com/politics/us-foreign-aid.htm
If you look through the list of countries, many of them are countries where terrorism flourishes. Countries like Egypt ($1.5 billion in 2010), Jordan (per the Jordanian government from 2007 to 2011 reached 2.4 billion), Pakistan ($855 million in fiscal year 2011, not including emergency humanitarian aid), Gaza/West Bank ($500 million annually over the past decade), Not to mention that countries like Jordan and Egypt, as well as other middle eastern countries that receive US aid, are rich in oil, so why are we sending them more money? I know I’ll get the “the oil money doesn’t get down to the people” reasoning, but what makes you think our aid money does?
Now let’s take a look at the US economy and how those billions could help at home. Let’s start with the housing crises. According the Joint Economic Committee of Congress, the average foreclosure costs $77,935 while preventing a foreclosure runs $3,300. There were 918,000 foreclosures in 2009, 1.05 million in 2010, 1.2 million in 2011 for a total over 3 years of 3.17 million homes foreclosed. It would take trillions to bail them all out, and doing so isn’t the issue. The issue is the trillions that it cost the US in lost tax revenue and lower property values, not to mention programs that then had to be burdened with the then homeless.
How about feeding hungry Americans?
Feeding America, a food relief agency in the US (for the US), did a study in 2010. They found that Feeding America is annually providing food to 37 million Americans, including 14 million children. One in eight Americans now rely on Feeding America, or charities like them, for food and groceries, and 36% of the households served by food charities have at least one person working. This charity serves the working poor, who most likely don’t qualify for food stamp programs. Speaking of food stamps, 46.7 million Americans were using them in June of this year, the highest number ever, and food stamp benefits cost a record $71.81 billion to US taxpayers.
Should we even mention the fiscal cliff? Money to be cut and tax hikes will affect the working middle class. Businesses hit the hardest will layoff or close down. Jobless numbers will be astronomical. It will throw us into another recession, possibly a depression. Yet we continue to spend and pledge billions overseas, when cutting programs here will throw millions of Americans into financial ruin. Why?
Why are we sending billions of dollars to other countries when our own people are jobless, homeless and hungry? The aid that bothers me the most is the aid to places where they foster US hatred and attacks against us, places where terrorism flourishes, but any aid given with US tax dollars (meaning all of it) over helping US citizens is questionable at best.
We are the place that the rest of the world looks to for help. Where do our own citizens look when they are hungry, homeless or affected by a natural disaster? Where can they when we are spending it all overseas?
Image: Rainer Knäpper, License: artlibre; (http://artlibre.org/licence/lal/en)