We Love to Hate Foreign Aid

Possibly no program of the United States government is more despised by Americans than aid given by the U.S. to other countries.

A cartoon depicts one taxpayer saying to the Internal Revenue Service: “I hope you give my money to some nice country.”

The cartoon is based on a myth but one widely believed: that the U.S. gives money by the fistfuls to other countries for social programs.

In fact, about one percent of the U.S. budget proposed by Obama in 2016 went to foreign aid, including military aid.

A Kaiser Family Foundation study in 2015 found that the average American thought about 26 percent of the U.S. budget went to foreign assistance.

The five countries who receive the most aid are: Afghanistan, Israel, Iraq, Egypt, and Jordan.

Much of the aid is military assistance, overseen by the Department of Defense.

A much smaller percentage of the aid budget is for humanitarian assistance programs, such as those dealing with health and food, usually overseen by the Department of State.

Any program devised by humans can always be made better and more efficient. Certainly changing times demand new ways of doing things.

However, in calling for drastic cuts at the Department of State of about 29 percent, the budget may cut assistance programs that benefit both the recipients and the United States.

They include programs to cut down on infections from AIDS, to prevent maternal deaths from childbirth, and to provide services for improving children’s health. Healthy, educated children grow into productive adults, more likely to contribute to a functioning society, one that resists radicalism and terrorism.

In fighting diseases like the Ebola virus, containment is easier when the U.S. already has established health programs, as well as personnel, in the affected countries in embassies and other missions.

For a better understanding of foreign aid, explore a link from the Council on Foreign Relations.

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