Tag: foreign aid

What Cutting Foreign Aid Could Do for America

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).

Environmental Improvements

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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Four Easy Ways to Rein in Federal Spending

By Indri Schaelicke | United States

The United States national debt currently stands at over $21 trillion. Such a number seemed improbable just 5 years ago. Despite such a clear lack of funds, Congress merely continues to create more government programs. This lack of fiscal responsibility will only lead the US into serious trouble in the future. With federal spending only increasing, it is now more than ever imperative that our congressmen step back and look at the negative consequences for long term debt.

Maintaining a large debt for a long period of time has several disastrous effects. The greatest danger, naturally, comes during a recession. In this case, foreign governments with U.S. Treasury bonds may not trust the U.S. to repay them. Thus, a foreign state may demand its loaned money back, which the United States may not be able to pay. The U.S.’s inability to pay back the amount could spark tensions, tariffs, embargoes, or even war.  

Rising debt also means that government will raise taxes more to cover the gap between revenue and expenses. By taking steps to fix the issue now, Congress can balance the budget and keep taxes lower. It is time for Congress to become fiscally responsible and limit federal spending. The process is not difficult, and through these four steps, Congress can be back on track towards federal spending sanity.

1. Close Overseas Military Bases

The US operates over 800 military bases around the world. Only 11 other nations have foreign bases, combining for a total of 70. The sheer number of bases is a clear indicator of the U.S.’s global policeman approach to foreign policy. If the government is to exist, it must focus on protecting the life, liberty, and property of its own citizens. 800 foreign bases are in no way essential to do this.

2. Cut Programs with Wasted Federal Spending

The United States, over the past century, has sought to maintain peace and stability around the world by solving regional conflict. However, as a result, the government has created countless programs that seek to promote American values in areas they are least likely to work. Ultimately, these programs are wasteful and unnecessary.

For example, the U.S. government built a natural gas station in Afghanistan for $43 million dollars. Afghans have no way of using this, because they do not have cars that use natural gas for fuel. Even if they did, the vast majority of them would not have the money to buy or use them. This project was illogical in design, but sadly it is only one of many. Cutting down on these ridiculous programs should gain bipartisan support. It also should not be very hard to implement. Thus, it is a great way to rein in spending.

3. Abolish the Post Office

The Post Office system is an incredibly inefficient quasi-business run by the U.S. government. This past year, USPS reported a $2.7 billion loss, while in the fiscal year of 2017, UPS, a private company, had a revenue of over $65.8 billion. These statistics show us that, in this industry at least, the private sector is much more able than the state. The reason for this, of course, is that a private company has an incentive to make money.

A government-run business like the Post Office can never shut down due to bankruptcy. They can simply get more money from the state, increasing debt. On the other hand, if a private business remains unprofitable for long enough, they will go bankrupt. This “drive to survive” of the private sector also leads to innovation and improvements. This keeps a business competitive in its field, as opposed to a state program, which has no incentive to improve. Private companies must constantly improve to retain their customers, while government corporations will always be around no matter the financial loss they are suffering. It’s time to abolish the Post Office and allow more efficient companies to take its place.

4. End Foreign Aid Programs

Foreign aid programs are yet another example of policies that seek to benefit other states at the expense of our own. The U.S. government’s primary concern should be with the well being of its own citizens, and not with that of other nations’.

Tragically, foreign aid programs often fail to work. Many times, regional warlords obtain the money as soon as the U.S. drops it off. Aid rarely reaches those that need it the most, and in fact often helps those that oppress the needy. Private charity must replace foreign aid. Knowing the money they have is both precious and finite, a private charity often makes a greater effort to ensure that aid ends up in the right hands.

The U.S. may achieve all of these proposed solutions to rampant government spending quite easily. As all are common sense methods, they all, save the last, should receive bipartisan support. They also would not require a lot of legislation to implement. The U.S. must make a serious effort to reign in federal spending to avoid a debt crisis, and these four solutions are a great place to start.

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