One of the many responsibilities of any White House administration is to hold a distinguished state dinner that honors a guest of a foreign nation. The goal of most state dinners is to strengthen foreign relations. It is also to discuss policies regarding the country of the distinguished guest. However, these conversations often come at an extravagant price when taking a look at the cost of a state dinner.
Where the Money Goes
The average cost of a state dinner in 2014 was about $200,000. U.S. taxpayers fund the state dinners. Nonetheless, the money for these state dinners could have been used differently. It could have also been an important contribution to fighting poverty within the nation of the honored guest.
How a State Dinner Could Fight Poverty in Mexico
In 2010, a state dinner was held for President Felipe Calderon of Mexico. Discussion topics at the event included legislation regarding economic propositions and clean energy. They also included the prevalent issues of drug-trafficking and violence affecting all of Mexico. The cost of two-state dinners was near $1 million, and the cost for each person at the dinner was close to $5,000. Considering all of this, what problems $1 million solve in Mexico?
Staying on the topic of drug cartels from that state dinner and the ongoing issues of drug violence in Mexico, there is a direct relationship between increasing drug violence and poverty in the nation. From 2013 to 2017, drug violence or drug-trafficking killed nearly 30,000 people in Mexico. As of 2018, 26.2 million people were living at or below the poverty line. The quantity of $1 million is not nearly enough to solve the ongoing drug crisis or to lift people out of poverty. However, that could be a start. The drug crisis has not only affected Mexican lives, but also the lives of over 67,000 Americans as a direct result of Mexico’s crisis. According to Deputy Assistant Secretary Richard H. Glenn, American and Mexican lives depend on U.S. efforts.
How a State Dinner Could Fight Poverty in France
The two most recent state dinners included a dinner for French President Emmanuel Macron in 2018 and Prime Minister Scott Morrison in 2019. There is no available data for the exact cost of a state dinner for the French leaders. However, there were 150 guests at the French State Dinner. Based on previous state dinner costs, each meal averaged at around $1,000. This would mean that the total price for the food at the dinner was about $150,000. How could the cost of this food fight poverty in France?
During the year of the state dinner, France nearly 9 million of its citizens lived in poverty and 14 million more suffered from food insecurity. The quantity of $150,000 is not much to feed the country’s poor. However, this money could directly benefit the younger generation in France and ensure that programs advocate for steady employment and income. A third of the poor population in France includes children. Also, the government recently promised to ensure vocational training in their education programs to set children on a successful path out of school. The benefits of funding this vocational training are that graduates of programs have a higher likelihood of employment, critical thinking skills and lifestyle improvement.
The importance of state dinners is not negotiable in the sense that they do affirm and strengthen foreign relations. However, the cost of a state dinner itself could instead benefit the guest nation in various ways. The poverty-related issues that each country faces are serious and affect millions. Therefore, the money allotted to the state dinners from U.S. taxpayers’ dollars has the potential to serve in fighting foreign aid directly as well.
– Josie Collier
Photo: Wikimedia Commons