The Daily Demarche
Thursday, September 22, 2005
The Perfect Storm
In the movie by the same name as today's post a confluence of storms created a deadly moment for the ill fated crew of a deep sea fishing boat. In today's political environment in the United States an odd blend of weather, rhetoric, domestic policy and foreign policy have combined to create what could well be a seminal moment in American history, and our relationship with the world. We, all Americans, have an opportunity to come together right now, to show the world what it means to be free and in control of our government.

Hurricane Katrina (and now Hurricane Rita) focused global attention on the structure and depth (or lack thereof) of American society. Our national dirty laundry was aired in a very public manner- we have poor (relatively speaking) in America. We have cowards in America. We have opportunistic criminals in America, and opportunistic pundits. (Of course, as we have always known, we produce the polar opposites of all these things as well.) The question, now, is what are we going to do about our problems? The world is watching. It is time to lead by example.

We, America and her diplomatic representatives, talk a great game about building democracy, and the rule of law. We are quick to advocate for personal freedom, and responsibility. We rail against governments that deprive their citizens of basic freedoms and (some of us) criticize those that encourage dependency on the state for well being and advancement. So how do we respond to the devastation wrought, and likely to be wrought, by these storms? Is more government the answer?

Hardly.

This is our chance to show the world what democracy can do, what people who are empowered and encouraged to be in charge of their own government can accomplish. There will be a price to pay, of course. I have seen estimates in the hundreds of billions of dollars to repair the damage done by Katrina. Some of this is rightly the responsibility of the federal government (and some is not, but that is fodder for another piece)- so where will the money come from?

How about if $37,000,000,000 comes from "restraining foreign aid?"

The Republican Study Committee yesterday proposed just such a savings yesterday in their report "Operation Offset" (note: the total amount saved over 10 years projected by this report is nearly $950 billion, but this blog deals with international issues mainly). How can we save so much, you might ask, and still maintain our place in the world? Turns out it is not so hard. Here is a slightly modified (only the 10 year savings are shown here) table from the report:

Savings from Baseline
Eliminate US Subscriptions to the European Bank $386,000,000
Reduce Economic Assistance to Egypt $1,200,000,000
Eliminate Millennium Challenge Accounts $24,352,000,000
Level Funding for Peacekeeping Operations $1,294,000,000
Eliminate International Fund for Ireland $195,000,000
Level Funding for Global AIDS Initiative $7,598,000,000
Level Funding for Inter-American Foundation $28,000,000
Level Funding for the African Development Foundation $28,000,000
Level Funding for the Peace Corps $111,000,000
Level Funding for Andean Counter-Drug Initiative $125,000,000
Reduce USAID Operating Expenses $793,000,000
Level Funding for the International Development Assoc. $1,489,000,000
Level Funding for Asian Development Bank $223,000,000
SUBTOTAL: Restraining Foreign Aid $37,822,000,000

We mean well with much of the money we spend in the hope of making a better world. But most of it is simply wasted- in this case the road to fiscal ruin is paved with good intentions, and I have the distinct feeling that these items listed above are merely the tip of the iceberg. We have been throwing good money away after bad for far too long. The time has come for us to reign in our tendency to spend indiscriminately. It is time to wean the world from the mothers milk of freely given dollars. If we want the world to embrace the American ideal of democracy it is time to demonstrate just how, and why, it can work.

The place for that demonstration is at home. Please take a look at the report referenced in this piece, and a companion piece at Taxpayers for Common Sense, then let your elected officials know what you think- after you check out what they have pledged to do to offset the costs of recovery at the Porkbusters page at the Truth Laid Bear.

Men make history, and not the other way around. In periods where there is no leadership, society stands still. Progress occurs when courageous, skillful leaders seize the opportunity to change things for the better. - Harry Truman

(End of post)
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dé·marche 1) A course of action; a maneuver. 2) A diplomatic representation or protest 3) A statement or protest addressed by citizens to public authorities.

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