Eggs of Gold

The current attempt to cut the U.S. budget and try to revive our economy is making slow progress with few significant savings.  The effort seems to focus on domestic spending; duplicative funding, earmarks, outdated programs, entitlements and items that can otherwise be sacrificed in difficult economic times

However, there isn’t much publicity about cuts to our foreign aid budget(s).  Monetary assistance to governments and international organizations and programs can be found in many U.S. departmental funding requests.  The Departments of Commerce, Treasury, Agriculture, Justice, Transportation and, of course Defense and State all have line items for foreign assistance.

Often, these monies are provided as a codicil to trade or other treaties and agreements between the United States and the recipient nation.  Others are “obligatory” funds due to our membership in international organizations.  Some is given through good ol’ big-hearted American benevolence.

The intricacies of foreign aid are not easy to decipher.  In reading the justifications for the funds, you’ll find a bushel full of vague reasoning to “promote” this, “enable” that or “encourage” something else.  And though many millions of dollars are spent for very good and necessary causes, there are some real curiosities when scanning through government budget proposals.

I went through the State Department’s International Affairs Budget Request for Fiscal Year 2010, the most recent I could find.  This particular document is for “Foreign Operations and Related Programs.”

Here are a few of those curiosities:

Global Health and Child Survival

China    $7.3 million (from USAID and State combined)

Russia  $7.5 million (combined – half of all funds designated for Europe)

Development Assistance

Mexico  from $11 million in 2009 to $17 million

Nicaragua from $18 million in 2009 to $55 million

Why the 300% jump for Nicaragua?

Economic Support Fund

China – $5 million

North Korea – $98 million

Cuba – $20 million

Venezuela – from $5 million in 2009 to $6 million

China?  North Korea?  Cuba?  Venezuela?  Almost $130 million to these guys?

“Assistance for Europe, Asia and Central Asia”

Russia – $56 million

Huh?

International Narcotics Control and Law Enforcement

Mexico – from $360 million in 2009 to $460 million

Does anybody think we’re getting a decent return on investment here?

International Military Training

Mongolia – $1 million

Vietnam – $300,000

Iraq – $2 million

The numbers are not large (in context) but this is the STATE DEPARTMENT budget, not Defense)

Foreign Military Financing

Vietnam – $1.3 million

Egypt – $1.3 billion (before Mubarak was kicked out)

Israel – $2.775 billion

Mexico – $10.5 million

See above: Over $4 billion from State for “Military Financing?”

UN Regular Budget – from  $542,560,000 in 2009 to $597,542,000

Wikipedia describes United Nations funding allocations:

The UN is financed from assessed and voluntary contributions from member states. The General Assembly approves the regular budget and determines the assessment for each member. This is broadly based on the relative capacity of each country to pay, as measured by their Gross National Income (GNI), with adjustments for external debt and low per capita income.

This is a convenient formula for insuring that the United States pays far more than anyone else.

Following are the top ten contributors (% of UN budget)

United States – 22.000%

Japan – 12.530%

Germany – 8.018%

United Kingdom – 6.604%

France – 6.123%

Italy – 4.999%

Canada – 3.207%

China – 3.189%

Spain – 3.177%

Mexico – 2.356%

Other member states – 27.797%

But, that’s just for “membership.”  The total amount the United States pays to the United Nations and “Affiliated Organizations” is $1.234 billion.

Budgeting, and particularly cutting budgets, is a very difficult and tedious process.  With those that relate to foreign assistance, there are diplomatic and other nuances that further complicate the effort.  However, these dollars belong to American citizens and though we want to help those who need it no matter where in the world they may be, we have to maintain our own monetary integrity.

The United States can’t continue to bleed money.  Just as domestic cuts have to be made to shore up our economic foundation and promote our own prosperity, so too must our foreign aid be scrutinized and shrunken.  If we don’t, this magnanimous goose won’t be able to lay any more golden eggs.

~CS~

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7 comments

  1. How about the $74mil worth of cruise missiles we just fired at Libya. (124x$600,000). How much would you say we have spent just this past week being the UN’s muscle? Maybe Joe Biden can send THEM a bill.

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  2. I know its really nothing compared to the debt of medicare, medicaid, welfare and social security but, why do we give to UN and to dictators and I have to agree with John C about the cruise missiles. I have come to the understanding that both sides really don’t give a rip about the debt and have no intensions of paying it off so, party on! I’m sick of all the politicians. Lie, cheat and steal thats what there’re good at.

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  3. Excellent Posting. I understand we also give around $1 Billion a year each to both Egypt and Israel. We are still paying farmers not to grow. To get most good jobs, you have to pass a piss test for drugs. To get more welfare, you just have to spread your legs and have another young’un.

    The new GOP majority in the House has made a fantastic start. At least now they are having spending go down, not up. However, they are timidly cutting with a very small scalpel, when they need to be boldly using a very big chainsaw.

    I am a combat veteran who wants a strong national defense and wants to squash international terrorists. That said, we just got into another half@$$ed war where we are not in charge, the UN is. We are not committing boots on the ground, therefore we will accomplish nothing. We are going to pussyfoot around with rules of engagement that will leave the regime in place, get Americans killed, and guarantee to bog us down in another so called war where we have no intentions of winning anything. Under these circumstances, it was a LOT better not to choose to beat this particular tar baby.

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  4. WHAT IS THE DIFFERNCE IN THE TERRORIST (iSLAMIST) THREAT TO THE USA BETWEEN (A) GADHAFI AND (B) ANY POSSIBLE GOVERNMENT SET UP BY THE OPPOSITION FORCES THERE (OR THOSE WHO WOULD HIJACK THE REVOLUTION THERE)?

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  5. Shot dead because of a $50 dispute with the local authorities.
    In your case The Agency would be inconvenienced by having
    to send a cleaner over. No charges – accidental.

    So much for “good ol’ big hearted American benevolence”.

    Like

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