Many people think USAID, or aid going to foreign countries, is a gift and one we can't afford to give. But that couldn't be further from the truth.
USAID is part of the International Affairs Budget, which makes up less than 1% of the annual government budget. But than 1% saves millions of lives every year.
You might be thinking: that's all well and good, but we can't afford to give charity when we're so deep in debt ourselves. Not to mention we need to invest in a strong defense to keep terrorist groups at bay. Shouldn't we cut all unnecessary expenses until our debt and terrorism is under control?
Actually, no. USAID brings substantial benefit to the American people. Here are 5 selfish reasons why we need to increase USAID.
1. We Can Bring Our Troops Home
According to a recent article in USA Today, the United States military may not be needed in Afghanistan by 2020. The Afghan military is becoming more and more self-sufficient and soon they will be able to fight and defeat the Taliban on their own. But this will only be possible if the United States continues sending sufficient foreign aid to help their military.
If we do not increase our spending on the Afghan military, U.S. soldiers will be losing their lives over there longer than necessary. Sending troops over there is also more expensive than increasing USAID in Afghanistan, so taxpayers dollars are wasted, as well.
2. Create U.S. Jobs and More Tax Dollars
Those in extreme poverty are the largest untapped consumer market in the world according to Foreign Policy magazine. What if we gave the world's poorest 4 billion people the tools and resources they need to ascend from poverty, get better jobs, and the ability to buy products from U.S. companies?
More consumers means more demand, which means expansion, and more jobs are created in the United States. This also means more tax dollars for the government, which could close the federal deficit.
But don't take my word for it. Go ahead and read the letter sent to Congress from more than 50 major companies pushing for an increase in the International Affairs Budget for this very reason.
Whenever we find an ethical, win-win scenario for improving our economy, we should take it.
Increasing foreign aid to create U.S. jobs has worked in the past, like with the Marshall Plan. Shortly after WWII, the United States invested $110 billion into the EU to help rebuild the economies of allies and enemies alike. Now the EU buys $240 billion worth of U.S. exports annually. You can read the transcript for the Marshall Plan here.
A Call to Action to My Representatives to Increase the International Affairs Budget
3. Reduce Overpopulation
Believe it or not, helping people from starving to death reduces the overpopulation problem.
Right now, humans put a lot of strain on the Earth's resources. Not only does it ruin the environment, but it also means resources will be more scarce and therefore more expensive. Food and energy prices can skyrocket and clean water could actually become a luxury. This article explains more about the problems with resource depletion.
The human population is always increasing and putting more pressure on the planet. But surprisingly, that's not from countries where resources like food and medical care are plentiful. The huge increase in population is from countries where resources are scarce and the child mortality rate is high. This is because of a couple reasons.
The first one is lack of available contraception and pregnancy prevention education. This makes sense. How can someone keep from having too many kids when they can't afford birth control?
But the second one is related directly to the child mortality rate. People subconsciously want to have two kids grow to adulthood to keep the population stable and so their kids will support them when they get older. So when there is a high mortality rate for kids, people tend to have more kids to make up for it. Which means exponential population growth and resource depletion.
Giving foreign aid helps stabilize population growth and slows down population. Which means cheaper food and energy costs for us.
4. Fortify National Security
Improving national security doesn't always mean spending more in defense. Spending more in USAID is a cost efficient way to keep terrorists from gaining more control. If you think about terrorism like the cold virus, then defense is the DayQuil and other cold relief medicine. USAID is the immune boosting foods and the hand sanitizer that prevents you from getting the cold in the first place.
This is why many military strategists and high-ranking military officials want more money to be spent on foreign aid. It's a cost efficient way to fight terrorism without lives being lost.
“In many respects, USAID’s efforts can do as much- over the long term- to prevent conflict as the deterrent effect of a carrier strike group or a marine expeditionary force.”
– Lieutenant General John Allen, Commander of US Forces in Afghanistan
Look at how providing better education alone would improve national security:
“Millions of families, especially those with little money, send their children to religious schools, or madrassas. Many of these schools are the only opportunity available for an education, but some have been used as incubators for violent extremism. According to Karachi’s police commander, there are 859 madrassas teaching more than 200,000 youngsters in his city alone.” — 9/11 Commission Report.
5. We Can Create Exponential Progress
The number one killer in the world isn't war or natural disasters, or even incurable diseases. It's diseases and illnesses caused by lack of access to clean water, food, and healthcare. 83% of kids who die before their fifth birthday is from lack of nutrition, communicable diseases, and birth problems which are often caused because the mother is suffering from lack of care and nutrition.
That is a lot of life lost, and also a lot of potential.
By letting these kids die, or grow up without proper education, we are missing opportunities for new inventions, new discoveries, and more progress. For all we know, one of the kids we give foreign aid to could find the cure for cancer, free Tibet, or find a way for us to teleport instead of commuting hours to work.
By reducing foreign aid and neglecting the most destitute and defenseless in the world, we stop progress. And the unknown benefits for us and the world alone is enough to increase USAID.
What Can We Do About It?
Unfortunately, USAID is under attack. President Trump has proposed drastic cuts to reduce the already-miniscule amount of aid we give. Luckily, there are 30 ways to prevent this from happening. Some of them, like emailing Congress, takes less than two minutes to do.
I'm asking you to please be selfish for once, and tell Congress to increase USAID.
This content reflects the personal opinions of the author. It is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and should not be substituted for impartial fact or advice in legal, political, or personal matters.
Kara Skinner (author) from Maine on April 16, 2017:
Larry Rankin, Thank you!
Larry Rankin from Oklahoma on April 16, 2017: