Thursday, February 14, 2013

What percentage of the US budget gets spent on foreign aid?

I really love the efforts of groups like the ONE campaign to raise awareness and increase advocacy for our global neighbors who live in extreme poverty. ONE was started in 2004, and cofounded by Bono, lead singer of the band U2. Over the last few years, I have had the privilege of getting to know some of the staff at ONE and learn more about their efforts to increase awareness about global extreme poverty, and I have been thoroughly impressed. Back in 2004, approximately 2000 people attended their launch rally. Now they are a movement of over 2 million people. When a friend at ONE asked me to share one of their latest videos, I readily accepted. And I hope you might do the same.

As I travel the country sharing Nuru's story and inviting individuals and communities to join us in our efforts to end global extreme poverty, sometimes I hear objections similar to the ones reflected in this video. People wrongly assume that efforts to maintain or increase foreign aid is somehow hugely detrimental to our economy here. The fact is that an incredibly small percentage (less than 1%) of the US budget is dedicated to development efforts, and in many ways this budget allotment serves multiple good purposes. Not only does it help people globally in general, but it also decreases desperation and increases opportunities for our global neighbors. In many ways, everybody benefits when we help our neighbors who are suffering. Of course, looking out for others is also just the right thing to do.

In a time when in the US we are being compelled to take a hard look at where we are spending money and we are looking for places to cut, I personally believe that efforts to care for those living on less than the buying power of $1.25 a day should be among the last to be cut. In my limited travels internationally, I have personally witnessed that desperation that one in six people on our planet live in. And living here, it is hard to comprehend that anyone would live in the conditions that I have seen. Make no mistake, we need our leaders to make cuts in our budget. We need to learn to limit our spending. I am not going to make suggestions of what needs to be cut, but rather make one suggestion of an area I hope we do not cut until conditions change so that this small percentage of our budget is no longer needed.

Thanks for reading, and may we as individuals, and as a country, never yield in our commitment to serve the most vulnerable members of our world through life saving initiatives around the globe.

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