Under the lamp post: The push to cut foreign aid

Okay, so late one evening I see this drunk guy crawling on the ground around a lamp post. I ask him what he’s doing and he says he’s looking for his keys. I ask him where he thinks he dropped them.

“Over there, in that dark alley,” he slurs.

So why are you looking for them here under the street lamp?

“The light’s better,” he says.

That’s how the debate in Congress over cutting foreign aid often looks to me.

Politicians know the American public is, unfortunately, fairly ignorant about what percentage of the budget goes to foreign aid (1%) and so they talk about reducing the deficit by proposing cuts in foreign aid.

What those proposing the cuts don’t talk about much is how little we already spend, and why foreign aid is widely seen in this globalized world as critical to our long-term national interest. Here are a few articles of interest to me:

Laurie Garrett, in the Christian Science Monitor – Foreign aid isn’t foreign. It’s American

Michelle Chen, Huffington Post — The budget line neither party wants to defend: Foreign aid

Kyung Song, Seattle Times — World Vision pleads against cuts in foreign aid

Jim Wallis, Huffington Post — What would Jesus cut?

As those last two links indicate, there are more than just some good strategic and foreign policy reasons for actually boosting foreign aid. There are moral reasons, which many in the religious community are expressing forcefully in this debate right now.

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Tom Paulson

Tom Paulson is founder and lead journalist at Humanosphere. Prior to operating this online news site, he reported on science,  medicine, health policy, aid and development for the Seattle Post-Intelligencer. Contact him at tom[at]humanosphere.org, follow him on Twitter @tompaulson and/or send a comment below.