Thursday, October 9, 2008

Foreign Aid and the latest crisis

The financial news couldn't be any more depressing or uncertain, with the latest today that some banks would be partially nationalized. Having lived in Eastern Europe and seen the perils of nationalism, I'm still struggling with this one.
The sad news for foreign aid is that it is likely to be on the chopping block, despite assurances earlier this year from both candidates that foreign aid would increase under their administrations. I'm currently sitting on an advisory committee to USAID to help improve its efforts to explain American foreign assistance to the domestic public. It's a very misunderstood topic, with majorities of Americans thinking we spend a major percentage of the budget on aid, when it is in fact less than 1/10th of one percent. When faced with spending money at home or sending it abroad, most Americans would rather see it spent here at home, unless they are truly convinced it is making an impact and helping to stabilize fragile states from further unrest and possible extremism directed toward us.

Keep reading Nicholas Kristoff, please -- he truly is a voice of authority on foreign aid. Sometimes I think he's a lone voice in the wilderness. But surely he thinks every day about these mothers and children in Ethiopia (taken on one of my trips) in ways that very few in the world do.

No comments: