Last week, President Obama posted his new administration’s official agenda on the White House Web site. Much spending is planned in an attempt to stimulate the U.S. economy, but apparently Obama thinks he can stimulate the world economy as well through his plan to double foreign aid. The new administration’s agenda states that they plan to “…embrace the Millennium Development Goal of cutting extreme poverty and hunger around the world in half by 2015, and they will double our foreign assistance to achieve that goal. This will help the world’s weakest states build healthy and educated communities, reduce poverty, develop markets and generate wealth.”
The American president has substantial influence over the country’s foreign aid agenda through the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID), an executive branch agency founded during the Kennedy administration. U.S. federal foreign aid has continuously increased over the decades to where it currently stands at $25 billion annually.
Considering the historical and current situations surrounding foreign aid, increasing federal donations to foreign nations and the globalist United Nations to accomplish lofty goals likely will result in mediocre success at best.
More importantly, the policy of federal foreign aid constitutes an injustice to the American people.
At a time when the national debt stands at over $10.5 trillion and many Americans are feeling the pinch of the current economic downturn, an agenda which promotes sending current or future generations’ tax money to foreign people is downright unpatriotic.
Obama said in a speech on his federal foreign aid spending plan that the spending would be increased to $50 billion annually over a four year period. This $50 billion plan would equate to one-tenth of the projected 2009 federal discretionary spending budget other than defense.
Stopping the spread of HIV/AIDS is foremost on Obama’s aid agenda. Recently a BBC reporter in South Africa found teenagers smoking anti-retroviral HIV/AIDS drugs to get high. Should Americans work hard and pay taxes so that Africans can get high off these drugs, donated in large quantities by programs such as USAID?
Corruption and misuse of aid are legendary in Africa and other nations around the world. The more aid is given, it seems, the more it is misused: a fleet of 1,800 four-wheel-drive vehicles for the Ugandan Ministry of Health staff instead of gloves and basic medicines, a $2.5 million party for the king in Swaziland, governments selling food and medical aid to retailers. the list goes on ad nauseam.
A system in which one government steals from its citizens to give to a government who in turn steals both the gift and from the poor is clearly not a solution to solving poverty and disease. Private charities operating directly in impoverished regions succeed in improving the quality of life for those who truly need help without subsidizing corrupt government excesses. Quantified, Americans gave $306.39 billion to charity in 2007 and over one-quarter of the U.S. population volunteers. Americans are a generous people; without volunteers and philanthropists America would not resemble what it does today.
The federal government has no obligation nor authority to be benevolent to foreigners, according to the Constitution. In fact, the principle author of the Constitution, James Madison, once said about relief for French refugees, “I cannot undertake to lay my finger on that article of the Constitution which granted a right to Congress of expending, on objects of benevolence, the money of their constituents.”
Yet gradually over time the wisdom of the Founding Fathers and the foundation of the Constitution have crumbled in the pursuit of a new world order “I want us to pay our fair share to the global fund,” Obama said in 2007, a sentiment that has permeated politics. But, Mr. Obama, America is neither beholden to foreigners nor U.N. budgets.
As a sovereign nation bound by the laws of the U.S. Constitution, Americans must stand up against this mentality that we belong to a global state we are obligated to support. Fairness is about protecting individual rights from the tyranny of the majority, not forming a collective-majority-rule system to promote equality.
Individuals may, as per the 10th Amendment, donate to the charity of their own choosing, but not be forced to donate to some government program with historically little accountability or results.
Many basic problems need to be solved at home before we should even consider sending our philanthropy abroad. Veterans permanently disabled from fighting in the Middle East return to a government pension and charity aid inadequate to live above the American poverty line.
We must ask ourselves as citizens in the coming years if we can support a government whose agenda prioritizes unconstitutional spending over defending the general welfare and dignity of the American people.
Colin McKim is a horticulture junior and the new Mustang Daily political columnist for Thursdays.