"I'm going to speak my mind because I have nothing to lose."--S.I. Hayakawa

Saturday, January 29, 2011

Thoughts on a Saturday afternoon as cable TV news provides background motivation.

With Egypt now in the midst of demonstrations calling for the resignation of President Hosni Mubarak, the general population of the United States is becoming aware of the enormous amounts of foreign aid that we pay to Egypt annually, aid that goes to “peace and security,” which can be more truthfully translated to “military aid.” That aid averages between one and two billion a year.

That the aid began in 1979, consecutive to the Camp David Peace Accords, is no coincidence. Indeed, it could be said that the U.S. bought and paid for peace between Egypt and Israel for the past thirty-one years.

Fully one-third of the $58 billion dollars annually in foreign aid, money earned and paid to our government by American taxpayers, goes to Israel and Egypt. Almost every country in the world, except Western Europe, Canada, and Australia, receive U.S. aid. This year monies have been requested for Russia ($69 million), for Cuba (20 million), and for Nigeria ($647.7 million). These monies supposedly are for promulgating human rights, democracy, and the treatment and prevention of AIDS.

Also in line for foreign aid? China.

China, to whom the American workforce could be said to be modern day indentured servants in perpetuity due to the $900 billion the U.S. has borrowed from that country, could receive $12.9 million if the request is approved.

China’s economy is booming, though wages are low by Western standards. Extended families share simple housing. Digital communications are monitored. The Chinese are not a happy people. Only on the faces of very young schoolchildren did I see spontaneous smiles during my recent trip there.

Making eye contact and smiling could sometimes elicit a smile, though not always. And I was struck by the lack of smiles when elderly Chinese posed for photos.

School children in China

The Chinese with whom I spoke told me they try to buy Western goods rather than Chinese goods with their inferior quality, but U.S. goods are hard to find

These photos are of one lot of automobiles ready for export in Chongqing.

So what would $12.9 million buy in China? Human rights? Democracy? China won’t even let Liu Xiaobing accept the Nobel Peace Prize, but keeps him locked away in prison for supporting peaceful progression towards a more open government and better human rights. To be sure Xiaobing is a public figure and China would lose face if it accedes to world-wide demand that he be allowed to accept the prize.

Maybe it’s time to reassess the amounts of foreign aid the U.S. workers pay in these times of a suffocating debt that may yet bring this country to its knees. Seems to me that $58 billion a year would go a long way towards reducing that debt.

. I’m certainly not holding myself forth as an expert in these matters. I am more than willing to admit there are vast geopolitical influences and potentially disastrous results in play here, and undoubtedly I am privy to few of them. WikiLeaks has shown once again that few citizens are aware of what their governments do.

I’m not advocating isolationism, but rather a reassessment of fiscal reality and responsibility

Just saying…

The crane is said to be the national bird of China because of its numbers. The joke is that construction cranes are included in that visibility, if "visibility" is what the smoggy air of all China provides.


  1. I usually get frustrated at the amount money we send to other countries. I know there's plenty that I don't understand regarding why we do this because I don't take the time to be informed and even if I did, I probably wouldn't "get it."

    It's interesting to read your thoughts.

  2. It seems to me, Gully, that governments (whether national, state, or local) have forgotten what they are and what they're there for. As representatives of the collective us, surely their role is to protect us from crime/invasion; build essential infrastructure; educate our youth; ensure access to medical services; and provide basic levels of fallback for those unable to look after themselves.

    Here in Australia, governments fund things like football stadiums so that team owners can make huge profits by using them maybe a dozen times a year. They fund symphony orchestras and opera and theatre (which I love) and ballet and art galleries (which I don't), but cut back on essential health services etc.

    And of course, even little Australia spends money contributing to wars in Iraq and Afghanistan and 'defending' us from something nobody ever seems to be able to enunciate beyond the word 'terror'.

    I don't think it's 'isolationist' to want the collective 'us' to look after 'our' needs and leave others to deal with theirs. I think it's what Mr Jefferson et al were all about when they created an extraordinary-for-its-time concept of government.

    It's a pity that it's got so complex and cynical.

  3. Agreed, FigMince. I'm also aware that countries buy "friendship" through the guise of foreign aid. And, in many cases, those countries go along to get along, but hate us while extending their hands for the aid.

    Three years ago I had occasion to have a very nice dinner with a New Zealand couple in their home. There was a long discussion about politics, with the host eventually saying "the world" thinks the US should clean up its own back yard before it imposes its beliefs on other countries. I agree.

  4. i certainly do agrte we spend way to much money on foreign aid that could be better used for education and domestic programs. Why sould we give Isreal money to build houses on the West Bank when we can't build houses for our own people (like New Orleans)