You will have to pardon my ignorance [or not]but there appears to be a somewhat confused political structure in the United States. We want to reduce the deficit but one billion dollars is immediately made available to Ukraine to assist in stabilizing their infrastructure and no one in Congress is heard complaining about it? That doesn’t make a whole hell of a lot of sense to me. Countries that are starving for one reason or another receive aid in the form of rice, powdered milk, and other food products from the United States, yet 17 million children under the age of 18 go to bed hungry each night in our own country. And that doesn’t make a whole hell of a lot of sense to me either. We give billions and billions of foreign aid to other countries, I guess because money talks and bullshit walks, and we want everybody to be our ‘friend.’ Just watch how friendly they’ll be if we reduce or eliminate all that foreign aid in deference to repairing our own infrastructure. They’ll jump on that “Hate America” bandwagon so fast, it will make your head spin.
Please, don’t get me wrong. I have no problem with supplying assistance to countries that truly require our help. One of the major problems, as I see it, is that the aid we do supply all too often does not wind up in the hands of those who need it. Corruption is rife in too many of the countries we boast of helping, but it’s not the country or the people. It winds up in the hands of the military or the despots of those countries who hold the aid hostage over their own people. We just don’t appear to understand that many of the countries to whom we supply aid and assistance have different cultural values and different social mores than we do. If anyone bothered to study America, they would find that culturally we are quite different even within our own nation.
When President Eisenhower signed the Federal Aid Highway Act of 1956, it was considered to be one of the greatest public works programs in the history of the country. According to the U.S. Department of Transportation, “…the Interstate System has been a part of our culture—as construction projects, as transportation in our daily lives, and as an integral part of the American way of life. Every citizen has been touched by it, if not directly as motorists, and then indirectly because every item we buy has been on the Interstate System at some point. President Eisenhower considered it one of the most important achievements of his two terms in office, and historians agree.” There was only one problem with the construction of the Interstate Highway System…the funds appropriated for it did not consider the ‘real’ cost of maintaining it. The best analogy I can give is that of a major donor bearing the entire cost of constructing a dormitory/residence hall for his or her alma mater. The problem arises when that dorm has to be furnished and the building maintained. Where does that money come from or do we merely let the building deteriorate? The answer, of course, is that monies must be appropriated to maintain the building to the detriment of other things. Therefore, in the long run, the alumnus/alumna didn’t do his or her college any great favors. In my years in higher education, I know of only one situation where monies were given not only for the building, but for its endowment or maintenance. Today, that building is as beautiful as it was the day it was opened. When the Department of Transportation goes to seek the funds it requires to repair our nation’s bridges and roads, Congress and the Presidents who have succeeded Eisenhower always seem to find other, more pressing problems…like giving money in foreign aid…read that as “Giving blood money to keep our so-called friends happy.” Not to get too personal, but I drive under overpasses and over underpasses each day and some of both just scare the living daylights out of me.
There is no question that America has always done its fair share to help other nations, whether it’s by sending our military to help quell world wars; providing food and dollars to help nations get back on their feet following one calamity or another; or by providing expertise in assisting underdeveloped countries to move ahead. That’s us; that’s the way we are. Unfortunately, I fear that we have often times cast our eyes across the seas rather than taking a hard look inward and from coast to coast.
I, like most other people in our wonderful country, bitch and wail, and moan and whine about this not being done or that not being done, and I do nothing about it. I cast my ballot at every election, not for a single party, but for the candidate who I believe can do the best job. Yet, time and time again, I wind up being disappointed. I’m firmly convinced that there are people in Washington who believe as I do and as you do…but you and I are also different so perhaps I’m making an unwarranted assumption here. Do we all agree that there is a poverty issue in the United States? Do we all agree that our educational system needs an overhaul? Do we all agree that our roads and highways are dangerous and in need of repair? Do we all agree that too much is expected of our military whenever a skirmish breaks out somewhere? Do we all agree that not everyone should receive a college education? There are hundreds of “Do we all agrees…” but who wants to prioritize them? Who says we all agree? What’s important in Massachusetts may be pretty damned low on the Minnesota, Montana, or Mississippi agenda? Is one state more important than the other? Wow, talk about questions!
I hope that I’ve given you some food for thought. If you still have some fire in your belly, stand up and shout. Make your voice heard in Washington…or as my dear old Dad would have said, “Make yourself a real pain in someone else’s ass!”