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U.S. foreign aid: our best diplomatic tool

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Wide White: U.S. foreign aid: our best diplomatic tool

Wednesday, February 09, 2011

U.S. foreign aid: our best diplomatic tool

I recently saw an interview with Rand Paul, the newest Senator from Kentucky, in which he advocated eliminating foreign aid from the federal budget. While foreign aid takes up less than one-half of a percent of the federal budget, Paul rightly argues that it will take cutting everything, no matter how "small," to restore fiscal stability.

However, I think he glosses over one of the biggest reasons for foreign aid. I really don't believe it's all about America's generosity. Paul is right, we don't have the money on hand to be generous. We need to cut back. But for all of the cutbacks we'll need to make, foreign aid won't be one of them.

Foreign aid is simply too important of a tool for negotiations. I read a story today that highlights the plight of a U.S. diplomat who's being imprisoned in Pakistan for presumably killing two Pakistanis in self-defense. The title of the story warns that "Pakistan could lose aid dollars over detained U.S. diplomat."

That's right, the negotiating tool for obtaining the release of an American diplomat is money. And we've seen cuts in aid used as a threat with many other countries, most recently with Egypt.

Money talks. It always will. Because of that, look to military and domestic budget cuts before foreign aid is ever even considered for the chopping block. Cutting foreign aid is simply too big a risk for international relations.

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Blogger James A. N. Stauffer declared,

How do you know that the monies spent are a good deal? Other countries work out things without giving so much aid -- why can't we?

2/09/2011 11:45 AM  
Anonymous Bill Roehl declared,

For class I had to play this game:

It's an interesting look at what impacts the Federal budget. While I assumed that cutting a lot of the crap which is routinely thrown around as important to saving us dollars, I found that the single biggest item which will dig us out of the hole we're in are rolling back the Bush tax cuts for EVERYONE.

Without much work (I played it twice for the paper I had to write on it) I was able to get us out of debt in less than 10 years and push insolvency out until after 2050--something which seemed to be great within the context of the game.

It opened my eyes to the fact that while I believe in low taxes and low services (and the problems both of those create), we've been put in a situation where one or the other will not do it. We need both cuts to services and tax increases. It's as simple as that. We've enjoyed the benefits of those low taxes but now it's time to pay the piper. Simple as that.

Now, on to your comment about foreign aid. I don't believe we should be providing it at this time. Why? Because we have to borrow to do so. We have $0 to our name until the deficit is wiped out. $0 means NO SPENDING on nice to haves, none.

If Foo Country needs funding, we should lobby China to provide it to them. After all that's what we do when we borrow from China and give it out anyway. Let's skip the interest rates and save ourselves the additional debt load which we clearly cannot afford.

2/09/2011 11:46 AM  
Blogger Joey declared,

I don't necessarily think we should continue the foreign aid stream for the same reason Rand Paul doesn't think so. We just don't have the money.

Having said that, it's our best bargaining chip. There's nothing like saying, "We're cutting off your cash flow," to get someone to respond. It's a huge reason we maintain our global domination.

Of course, we'll lose our hold on global supremacy if we go bankrupt anyway, so that argument isn't bulletproof. I don't necessarily think we should maintain foreign aid, but I think it's important enough that it just won't get cut, like it or not.

Oh, and I agree with Bill on increasing taxes. I just did my taxes last night and my obligation for federal taxes in 2010 is less than $500, or roughly 25% of my MN state tax obligation. Something seems very, very wrong about that.

2/09/2011 12:03 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous declared,

I'd go for the fair tax.


2/09/2011 4:35 PM  
Blogger Joey declared,

I used to be a big FairTax guy. It's still probably better than what we have but I don't think it would practically work since I think it would probably generate a huge black market for a lot of items. It would also really dissuade people from buying anything new, which could be interesting. But in principle it makes sense. Either that or a flat tax would make a lot more sense to me than what we have.

2/10/2011 12:31 AM  
Anonymous Soapbox Jill declared,

Joey, not all of us pay taxes as low as you do. So please do not try to impose your desire for higher taxes on us.
A new revenue stream suggestion: people who feel they do not pay enough taxes can donate more to the feds. Why not? It's a great idea to have voluntary participation in taxation!

2/10/2011 2:24 PM  
Anonymous Soapbox Jill declared,

As for foreign aid, America has already lost superpower status, thanks to fed. government policies of massive borrowing and spending. It is time for the new, emerging superpower China to take over aid spending.

2/10/2011 2:39 PM  
Blogger Joey declared,

I don't want higher taxes. I'm also not convinced there's any other way out of our financial mess. I hope there is.

I also think that nobody making what I make should be paying under $500 in taxes. Granted, that's after numerous deductions, including the $1500 energy credit for a new patio door, furnace, and air conditioner, but still, it seems ridiculous. Sure, I could donate money to the federal government, but we've got to look at the bigger picture here. There are likely countless others in a similar position as me and I've never found a single person who was willing to give the government more than they had to. Get rid of all of the deductions and give us a flat, even tax and I think we'd be a lot better off.

2/10/2011 2:50 PM  
Blogger James A. N. Stauffer declared,

Some arguments against foreign aid.

2/28/2011 11:41 AM  

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