Ashley Pierce is a political science freshman and Mustang Daily conservative columnist.
With $16 trillion in debt and counting, America’s debt clock keeps ticking and yet nothing is done. This large sum of money is not just owed to China, as is so often stated, but also to American citizens.
Fox News reported, “Fully two-thirds of the national debt is owed to the U.S. government, American investors and future retirees, through the Social Security Trust Fund and pension plans for civil service workers and military personnel” (I know, those biased jerks).
In order to pay back not only China, but our own citizens, the federal government must stop spending as it does at least until the debt is paid.
One way to cut spending is slashing a considerable amount of foreign aid.
While foreign aid is approximately 1 percent of the federal budget, every bit counts at this point. Cutting foreign aid by itself will not pay off U.S. debt. Other programs that need to be cut down are entitlement programs and defense spending, but that’s to be discussed at another time.
With more than $50 billion spent on foreign aid in 2012 alone, most of the money is appropriated to countries that may not need it as much as others. The most notable receivers of aid are countries in the Middle East such as Egypt, Pakistan and Israel.
Pakistan currently receives approximately $2 billion a year and Egypt takes in closer to $1 billion. Israel takes home the most aid with $3 billion. Yes, even Israel would have to lose a good deal of aid.
It simply makes no sense to be giving out money to others when our own country lies in such a huge pit of debt. While I think the entire idea of foreign aid comes from a kind and loving place, it can’t be done when the United States has no money to give.
The federal government is essentially giving away borrowed money. Foreign aid should only be given when the government has the actual capacity to give.
If the United States absolutely has to give out aid, then the least we can do is give that aid to developing countries such as Haiti. Their country received only $3 million last year — compare that to the $2 billion in Egypt, and it’s hardly anything.
Haiti might just be better off without more aid, though. The more pressing and important factor of foreign aid is if it actually helps. Foreign aid often ends up being used for the wrong purposes — corrupted and abused by the government officials whose hands it is placed into.
Economist Dambisa Moyo writes frequently on the subject.
“Over the past 60 years, at least one trillion dollars of development related aid has been transferred from rich countries to Africa. Yet real per capita income today is lower than it was in the 1970s, and more than 50 percent of the population — more than 350 million people — live on less than a dollar a day, a figure that has nearly doubled in two decades,” she wrote in the Wall Street Journal.
When the American government grants foreign aid to other nations, their governments can become dependent upon it. They don’t have to answer to the people of their nation either because their citizens aren’t funding the government’s actions.
“Aid distorts political institutions because country leaders do not have to rely on taxpayers to provide funds, so there’s no incentive to respond to citizen’s needs and requests. No taxation; no representation,” journalist Tate Watkins wrote.
And I can’t agree more.
Cutting foreign aid spending will not only reduce our debt (even if by hardly anything) but also may be more beneficial to the countries receiving the aid. We’re making them dependent on handouts instead of helping the nations build themselves up on their own and create efficient economies that are strong and self-sustaining. There should be programs to actually teach those who need it better ways of farming or using energy — not just sending out a check.
In fact, foreign aid is a great example of what we do with our own citizens with many of our government funded entitlement programs. Mailing checks isn’t going to help nations or individuals learn how to properly sustain themselves — it cripples them.