By Josh Hughes | United States
America currently spends an exorbitant amount of money on foreign aid. How would the country’s people benefit if the government instead used this money on them? If these tax dollars went to the citizens, they would all enjoy a much higher quality of life.
The Foreign Aid Budget
It’s important to first find out how much money goes to the benefit and aid of other countries. The number, as of 2016, was a staggering $36,100,000,000 annually. A breakdown of how much of this goes to each is country is available here. $5.3 billion and $5.1 billion went to Iraq and Afghanistan, respectively. The purpose of this aid, as with the majority of the aid to the Middle East, was for “Conflict, Peace, and Security.”
Third on the list was Israel, at $3.1 billion. Jordan, Egypt, Ethiopia, Kenya, and Syria came next, all at around $1 billion. The United States also gave dozens of other countries smaller amounts of aid.
Where Could the Money Go?
So, the million (or, 36.1 billion) dollar question is: What could Americans do with all of this saved cash? Now, it’s worth pointing out here that the purpose of this article is purely hypothetical. There are some benefits to giving aid, but they also do not justify taking the money from the people in the first place. In an ideal situation, neither foreign aid nor any other government spending would occur.
Returning to Its Rightful Owners
A good place to start is to ask: What if the state did not take the money in the first place? What if the government just decided to let you keep it? Well, there are about 141.2 million taxpayers in the United States. Since the U.S. has an immensely complex tax code, it is very difficult to figure out how much each person pays in foreign aid. For the sake of simplicity, let’s take the average. That comes out to $255.67 that each tax-paying citizen would get to keep.
Feeding the Homeless
America, like every other country, deals with the issue of homelessness, specifically in large cities. According to the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development, there are 554,000 homeless people in the United States. This is a low-end number, but it works for the sake of the point. Just because a person is homeless does not necessarily mean they are starving. However, food insecurity is considerably higher amongst those without a home.
Regardless of the exact figures, every homeless person in the U.S. does need adequate food to live. By directing this money towards them, the government could easily feed every homeless person in America. Statistics show that this would be considerably cheaper than foreign aid. In fact, the numbers back up that it only takes a couple dollars a day to feed someone calorically satisfying, moderately nutritious meals.
Even at $5 a day, an estimate around twice what is realistic, the government could feed every homeless person in America for just $1 billion. In fact, they could do this and still give over $2 billion a year to Israel, and not cut a penny anywhere else. Again, it is not the place of the government to do this at all. However, it is clear that we could solve far more substantial issues with considerably less money.
Disaster Relief Funds
Another issue America faces is natural disasters. Because of how expansive the country is, it is prone to many catastrophic disasters every year. In 2017, disasters hit an all time high in terms of price. Between hurricanes, forest fires, earthquakes, and tornadoes, disasters cost the country $307 billion. The freak weather patterns destroyed many homes, causing firsthand damage to countless Americans. Money should go towards the relief and aid of American citizens before one cent goes to a foreign government. Cutting aid to foreign countries would fund nearly 13% of aid to American disasters annually (assuming the cost was roughly $300 billion annually).
The environment has been a hot debate recently. The climate is changing, and the world is starting to run out of fossil fuels. One day, it will not be able to rely on them for power. It’s important, thus, to prepare for that, and protect the environment, by using more renewable energy sources such as wind power.
The most popular type of commercial wind turbine is a 2.2 MW model. These cost anywhere between $3-4 million dollars each to erect. With $36 billion worth of funds, you’re looking at about 10,314 of these turbines. This many turbines could produce, on the high end, nearly 24 GW (gigawatts) of energy annually. Just one GW could power nearly 300,000 homes, so 24 GW could power 7,200,000 homes.
Foreign Aid Is Grossly Immoral
It isn’t as easy as it sounds to redirect billions of funds to the plight of the homeless or towards renewable energy. But, the government could do all of these things with the money but chooses not to. It’s outrageous that America can’t find the money to take care of the starving and homeless or to adequately offer relief to natural disaster sites, yet can manage to arm terrorists that bomb children in the Middle East.
The life of an American is no more important than the life of a Syrian or a Kenyan. But if the government is exploiting money from Americans, it should at least attempt to support Americans. It should not give foreign aid to other nations, especially when those nations are violent, unstable, and use it to kill innocent people.
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