Last night I was told that my stances on U.S. foreign policy are un-“American.”  While I personally believe that citizenship is an arbitrarily created concept and, therefore, does not automatically warrant greater attention than human solidarity, there is an economic logic to my critique that surpasses boundaries of nationality.

Take the issue of U.S. food aid.  In the most recent edition of Foreitimor_cpgn Policy Magazine, Helene Gayle, President and CEO of CARE USA, argues that U.S. food aid policy does “more harm than good.”  What she means is this:  under current U.S. food aid policy, the majority of food given to developing countries in crisis must be purchased from U.S. farmers and then shipped overseas on U.S. carriers in order to be distributed or sold at its final destination.  The problem: in an effort to ensure benefit for American workers and corporations into U.S. food aid policy, the U.S. Agency for International Development spends more on shipping and administration (65 cents on every dollar) than it does on providing actual food to the starving populations we aim to help.

Gayle points out that “the generosity of the U.S. government and its citizens would be far better served if more food aid came in the form of cash.”  Such a system would not only give humanitarian aid agencies more flexibility to respond more efficiently and appropriately, but would free up funds to be spend locally, stimulating production with developing countries towards stronger, more self-sufficient economies.

Is building stronger, more self-sufficient economies and communities abroad not the end goal of U.S. foreign assistance?  Some might say, “Well sure, but now you’ve cut out the American worker altogether.”  While this is true, the sacrifice is short-term.  We will spend less money in the long-term on foreign aid if we invest now in supporting developing countries as they build their own infrastructure and industries.  Countries with these qualities make better trade partners, a relationship which is and should be designed to create American jobs.

Besides, isn’t standing by inefficient programs simply because they create jobs something that the U.S. criticizes socialist governments for?

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