Thursday, February 20, 2014

Can we stop it with the attacks on foreign aid that distract from the real budget issues?

A meme has permeated social media that complains about many of the issues the poor (though slowly recovering) economy has caused, then blames foreign aid.  I understand the gut reaction, but most people don't realize that the defense industry has basically become a welfare program for executives, shareholders, and workers who remain involved in obsolete programs that simply haven't been cut from the budget.  The jobs remain open for political reasons, not because they should exist.

There is a tank manufacturer that produces war machines that will never see the battlefield.

Aircraft manufacturers make jets that will never reach a combat zone or see any other kind of action.

About twenty percent of the American work force has its employment tied to the defense industry, and the dollar amount dwarfs the foreign aid budget.  In terms of the total budget of the Untied States, foreign aid is a drop in the bucket.

Nobody complained when a similar amount that goes to foreign aid was re-routed by executive order from HUD (low income housing) to the remodeling of churches whose congregations couldn't afford to remodel.  Worse, a similar amount went to clinics meant to mimic Planned Parenthood, but were really propaganda centers for the anti-choice crowd, where women were encouraged to continue unwanted pregnancies and give the resulting baby up for adoption.

Furthermore, with reforms to the for-profit health care industry, Medicare would cost the country less money.  Profit in health care makes the cost 25% higher than it would be otherwise, because we pay executive salaries and pensions, not to mention dividend checks we pay the shareholders.

So your foreign aid complaint?  It's a gut reaction based on a lack of education of the real budget issues we have.  It also marginalizes the diplomatic advantages of that foreign aid.  Some of it is downright stupid, I'll admit, but in many cases, we give that aid in exchange for trade deals, mineral rights, and strategic military advantage, not just to give it away.

I haven't provided links to real numbers to back up what I say, but I welcome any corrections to things I've stated here.  I've researched these issues in the past, but I wanted to vent and provoke thought more than I wanted to spoon feed people statistics.  Sue me.