It is logical to think “Why give tax dollars and charitable dollars abroad when so many people are suffering in America?” The reality, however, is that there is a long list of seemingly unconnected benefits to Americans for giving tax dollars as well as private dollars as foreign aid. Those benefits are tangible and intangible alike, but they trace back to every community in America. Here are the top ways that every American benefits from global giving:
1. Foreign Aid Stimulates Peace and Keeps You Safe
The foreign aid budget for America is only 1%, while spending on defense and international security is 18%. Since the foreign aid budget also includes the State Department – our embassies and consulates all over the world – in reality only a sliver is direct dollars for humanitarian projects and the like.
Aid stabilizes countries and their problems of poverty, health, and disease that breed terrorism, criminals, and enemies otherwise. Well put by experts Michael Gerson and Raj Shah, “These places are incubators of risks” and just a bit of aid goes a long way to thwarting future terrorists. If we take away the conditions that cause war, the conditions that cause crime and create enemies, we stimulate peace and safety.
2. Foreign Aid Helps the US Economy
Aid “strengthens markets for US goods,” according to Bill Gates, the largest private global giver in the world. In fact, Gates elaborates that 11 of the US’s 15 biggest trade partners are former aid recipients. People don’t forget who put them on their feet – goodwill of humanitarian assistance opens doors down the road for trade and cooperation.
It also helps local economies grow, leading to more wealth locally in places that used to be poor. American companies can then utilize trade partnerships and deals forged by goodwill to export more and more to those emerging markets. Since people haven’t forgotten who put them on their feet, the “Made in America” brand is equally prideful to them – helping our entire economy.
3. Foreign Aid Improves Global Health
America has been the largest giver to global pandemics and crises including HIV/AIDs, Ebola, malaria, and Polio. That giving does not just save millions of lives, but it improves everyone’s health across the world. Bill Gates elaborates that “consistent funding of well-run infrastructures” is the key to success in curbing disease and stopping emerging disease and new disease.
New diseases, especially bug born ones like Zika, are an imminent reality, and they will threaten a wider and wider portion of the world as our climate changes. Maintaining infrastructure for new and old diseases alike has never been more critical to everyone’s health, both locally and abroad.
4. Brings More and Cheaper Products at Home
Foreign aid helped Mexico and a long list of countries in the Americas build infrastructure that allows them to produce vegetables, fruits, coffee, flowers, and a long list of other wonderful things that nearly any American can get at the local grocery store nearly any month of the year.
We probably would not have bananas 10 months or more out of the year if we had not helped Costa Rica develop a trade infrastructure and wide-scale farming system, let alone their now award winning coffees. We would also not be able to affordably travel to their white sand beaches to escape the winter cold!
Imagine that these are just the top ways that aid helps us at home. Factor reduced drug trafficking and human trafficking from lack of incentives to be criminals, spreading American democratic ideology at its purest and best, and just proving to the world that we are a force for good with positive leadership, and that little bit of investment really goes a long way!
Also, if you think back to when Katrina hit in 2005, the whole world pitched in to help us mitigate the disaster. Why did they do that? Because we are the global leaders in disaster relief and help everyone else when they are in need. Giving globally is an investment in goodwill that comes back to us locally when we most need it.