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U.S. and ChinaCOVID-19 has brought nearly all facets of normal life and governance to a screeching halt. On all fronts, from the economy to the military, the coronavirus has changed the way this planet runs. One area that has been heavily affected by the pandemic but does not get as much attention is international relations.

Diplomatic relations between countries is one of the toughest areas of government. It has become even more difficult to fully engage in with the onset of COVID-19. With more states turning to domestic engagement, the status quo of international relations has been shaken. In no foreign relationship is this more clear than that between the United States of America and the People’s Republic of China.

U.S.-China Diplomatic Relations

Current diplomatic relations between the U.S. and China were established under President Richard Nixon in 1972. Since then, the relationship between the two countries has experienced highs and lows. In 2020, it is nearly at an all-time low. The hostile status of this relationship now mainly stems from the ascension of President Xi Jinping of China to power in 2013, and the election of the U.S. President Donald Trump in 2016.

Under these two leaders, U.S.-Chinese relations have greatly diminished over the last four years. A rise in nationalism and “America First” policies under President Trump’s administration has alienated the Chinese amidst constant public attacks on the ‘authoritarianism’ of Jinping’s government. For example, China’s encroachment on Hong Kong’s autonomy over the last two years has been the subject of extensive international condemnation, particularly from President Trump and the United States. In addition, the two countries have been engaged in a high-profile trade war since the beginning of 2018.

More recently, a dramatic escalation in the deteriorating relationship between the two countries was taken in July 2020, when the U.S. ordered the closing of the Chinese consulate in Houston, Texas, on the basis of technological-espionage on China’s part. In retaliation, China ordered the American consulate in the city of Chengdu to close as well. Another significant strain on the diplomatic relations between the U.S. and China is COVID-19.

The Outbreak of the Coronavirus

Since the outbreak of coronavirus began in Wuhan, China, in December 2019, more than 4,600 people have died in China, over a period of nearly nine months. In the same amount of time, almost 180,000 people have died in the U.S. The U.S. government has consistently blamed the Chinese for failing to contain the virus. China has firmly denied these accusations. COVID-19 has seriously damaged the economic and healthcare systems of both the U.S. and China. Both systems have lost nearly all economic gains they’ve made since the 2008-2010 recession. While state economies around the globe also suffer, the decline of the economies of these two specific countries has far-reaching implications. Not only is the global economy in danger, but military alliances and foreign aid are as well.

Global Economy

Nearly every nation on earth has some kind of economic partnership with either the U.S., China or both. For example, the United Arab Emirates has been an ally of the U.S. since 1974, but in recent years has engaged in a pivotal economic partnership with China. Continued threats of tariffs and pulling out of trade agreements threaten the balance of these partnerships. These threats could force smaller nations to choose sides between the U.S. and China, should this confrontation escalate.

Military Alliances

While the U.S. enjoys a military advantage over China, China has allied itself with many of America’s adversaries, such as Russia, Iran and North Korea. These alliances have been solidified in recent years, for example, just before the coronavirus broke out in China in December 2019, China, Russia and Iran conducted nearly a week-long military exercise in the Gulf of Oman, a strategic waterway for oil tankers. An American confrontation with any one of these countries could draw China into the conflict, which could spell disaster for the world order.

International Aid

As part of China’s “charm offensive” in the early 2000s, the country began to heavily invest in the reconstruction of the economies and infrastructure in impoverished African states. In exchange, China received rights to natural resources such as oil in these countries. The U.S. also maintains a high level of foreign assistance in Africa. COVID-19 forces the U.S. and China to put more of their respective resources toward rebuilding their own economies. However, the aid they both provide to developing states worldwide diminishes at a time when those states need it most.

It is clear that even before the coronavirus spread to all corners of the globe, the turbulent relationship between the U.S. and China was advancing toward a breaking point. The pandemic has, to some extent, halted the diminishing state of relations between the two countries. However, any further provocations similar to the closing of the consulates in Houston and Chengdu could result in a catastrophe. The impacts of this relationship extend beyond the U.S. and China; they affect nations that heavily depend on the aid they receive from both powers.

Alexander Poran
Photo: Pixabay

American Expenditure on EntertainmentExpenditure by the average American consumer unit (henceforth household) each year is substantial compared to what the poor in the world spend. Of the 200 million or so rich people globally, Americans make up the majority; in this decade, as determined by those in the World Data Lab, “the world’s top market segment will be America’s rich” (italicization added). According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics Consumer Expenditure Survey (BLS CEX), entertainment spending made up 5.3% of the total average annual expenditure of American households in 2018. American spending on entertainment is considerable.

Collectively: Average American Households

Looking at the CEX, in 2018, average annual expenditures rose to $61,224, compared to $60,060 the year before. More specifically, spending on entertainment (EE) increased to $3,226, from $3,203 in 2017. (Inflation was higher than expenditure numbers in 2018. Nevertheless, consider that thousands of dollars went toward entertainment.) There were 131,439,000 households in the U.S. in 2018. When one multiplies that number by EE, one gets $424,022,214,000; hundreds of billions of dollars were spent on entertainment.

That amount of money is more considerable than the gross domestic product (GDP) in 2018 for the entire country of the United Arab Emirates (where Dubai and the tallest building in the world are), which was over $421 billion.

So what does the category of entertainment expenditure include in the BLS CEX?

  1. Fees and admissions, including admissions to sporting events and movies; fees for social organizations; recreational lessons; and recreation expenses on trips.

  2. Television, radio and sound equipment, including video game hardware and musical instruments.

  3. Pets, toys, hobbies and playground equipment.

  4. Other entertainment equipment and services, including indoor exercise equipment, camping equipment, boats, photographic equipment and supplies and fireworks.

Just $2 billion of the $72.56 billion that Americans spent on pets in 2018 is what Gavi, the Vaccine Alliance, was at a minimum seeking to raise as of 7 August. That amount could immunize both those with high susceptibility to the coronavirus and health care workers in Gavi-supported countries, with doses that would be available for use where needed most. Gavi is a public-private partnership that has helped to immunize hundreds of millions of children since 2000; partners include the World Health Organization, United Nations Children’s Fund and the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation.

America’s Rich

By the end of 2020, there will be an average of $194 to spend per day per wealthy American; this is put forth in a Brookings Institution blog. Possibly an appropriate juxtaposition, in 2018, households and non-profit institutions serving households (NPISHs) final consumption expenditure per capita was $189 in Burundi, a country where most of the population is poor and which has the second lowest GDP in the world.

Using data from the 2018 CEX, one may learn something else concerning American expenditure on entertainment. The top 10% of highest income (before taxes) households in the U.S. had an average of 3.2 persons and spent an average annual expenditure of $142,554. That amounted to around $122 spent per day per person: each person spent approximately $6.64 a day on entertainment. Notice that the $122 is less than the $194 of America’s wealth. 

If each of the 42,134,400 persons of the above top 10% were to have given around $1.20, less than a fifth of what they expended on average on entertainment per day, that would be enough (at least in hard numbers) to meet the net funding requirements from June to November of this year about the World Food Programme in Burundi.

The Bigger Picture

Entertainment may not in and of itself be bad or good. One way that American expenditure on entertainment affects Americans is the amount of time they spend on entertainment. For example, in 2019, the BLS reports that watching television on average took up the most leisure time. Although Americans possibly can inform themselves about the poor in the world via television, Americans could use some of the time spent watching television to ask their representatives to support legislation that could help reduce poverty.

Kylar Cade
Photo: Flickr

COVID-19 Vaccine
The World Health Organization (WHO) is making plans for how a life-saving COVID-19 vaccine could be distributed around the globe.

COVID-19 Vaccine Distribution

There are concerns about countries “hoarding” stores of vaccines for their own citizens. The countries that have the most money on hand will have the ability to buy a larger portion of available vaccines for citizens. While global leaders have come together to pledge $2 billion towards the creation of a vaccine, there is currently no formal worldwide plan to successfully manage the future COVID-19 vaccine and its distribution.

The public-private partnership that lead to this $2 billion pledge, Gavi, focuses on increasing childhood vaccinations in underdeveloped countries. It has support from WHO, UNICEF and the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation. Bill Gates himself has promised $1.6 million towards Gavi, along with $100 million to help countries that will need aid to purchase COVID-19 vaccines.

U.S. Involvement and WHO

The U.S. government has decided to stay out of the recent Gavi-organized funding pledge. The country has also pulled monetary support from WHO. In the past, the U.S. has been a large supporter of the creation of the HPV and pneumococcal vaccines, which has left many experts confused by the recent moves of the U.S. to disassociate itself from the larger global race towards a COVID-19 vaccine.

Beyond hoarding concerns, there are always issues surrounding legal and sharing agreements between countries, quality control, civil uprising and unrest and natural disasters when it comes to vaccine distribution.

A recent example of how the world dealt with vaccine distribution during a pandemic is the 2009-2010 H1N1 swine flu pandemic. With the money they had, wealthier countries purchased most of the vaccine available through early orders, leaving developing countries to scramble for leftover vaccine stores. Eyjafjallajökul’s eruption in Iceland in April of 2010 also created vaccine shipping delays. Many countries, such as the U.S., Australia and Canada would not let vaccine manufacturers ship vaccines outside of their countries without fulfilling their people’s needs first.

Going Forward

To create a successful global vaccination program requires the cooperation from all countries involved, not just a few. Many may die without the equitable sharing of vaccines as this pandemic will flourish in underdeveloped nations. It may be seen by the rest of the global community as selfish to not try and help other countries in their fight against the virus.

Even after a vaccine is created, different strains of COVID-19 could easily return to Australian, Canadian or American shores, wreaking havoc all over again. While there are efforts being made to prevent distribution issues with the future vaccine, without the help of the United States,—one of the wealthiest countries on Earth—it may be long before a COVID-19 vaccine is fairly distributed.

Tara Suter
Photo: Flickr

Increasing International PhilanthropyAs COVID-19 inspires increasing international philanthropy, trends in American and global giving create an opportunity for growth in the philanthropy sector. The Kaiser Family Foundation reported that as of April 21, donor governments and multilateral organizations around the globe were responding to the coronavirus with $16.5 billion in completed international donations and aid, the biggest donors being governments, the World Bank and the Asian Development Fund.

The U.S. Philanthropic Efforts

The U.S. government had provided $2.39 billion in international aid as of April. As of August 12, Candid reported, an additional $13 billion in institutional and individual philanthropic donations had been given globally, with the biggest donations coming from Google, CEO of Twitter Jack Dorsey and TikTok parent company ByteDance. The majority of funding, both philanthropic and from governments and multilateral organizations, have gone to disaster relief. COVID-19 is increasing international philanthropy efforts around the globe, and that trend has proven true of U.S.-based institutional and individual giving.

“To put this unprecedented commitment of institutional and individual philanthropy in perspective, the U.S. total alone of more than $6 billion is, according to Candid’s figures, more than double the entire campaigns for 9/11, the 2008 financial crisis, Hurricane Harvey, the Ebola outbreak, the Haitian earthquake, and the recent Australian bushfires,” Andrew Grabois wrote in a blog for Candid.

COVID-19’s Impact on Donor Giving

A recent Fidelity Charitable study found that 79% of donors plan to either maintain or increase their existing levels of giving. 31% of donors will be giving money to international organizations as part of their COVID-19 philanthropy, following a significant decrease in donations to international charities in 2017. International affairs nonprofits, on the other hand, have consistently been steadily increasing. 69% of donors said they are “very” or “somewhat concerned” about how international aid organizations will suffer during the pandemic. 30% of donors say they are donating “to address the economic impacts” of COVID-19.

Betsy Morris of The Wall Street Journal reported that as coronavirus related philanthropy skyrockets, nonprofits unrelated to coronavirus relief have seen significant declines in donations and volunteer activity; 80% of nonprofits surveyed in June said that revenue had fallen since the pandemic started, and 70% had been forced to reduced their activity level. Donations to U.S. charities saw an 11% decline in March, and the outlook remains bleak as the pandemic continues; 72% of donors do not “expect their giving to return to prior levels.”

Shifting Philanthropic Sector

But the pandemic has also caused significant shifts in the philanthropy sector that could help pave the way to recovery; consulting company Mckinsey & Company explained that large-scale donations are also happening “at record speed, with fewer conditions, and in greater collaboration with others,” all of which can and should be long-term shifts in the philanthropy sector.

Donor institutions are addressing three main areas to address short- and long-term philanthropy challenges by adjusting grant practices to be easier and more accessible for grantees, increasing the “pace and volume” of philanthropic giving, scaling impact with partnerships and collaboration between individual and institutional donors, investment in grassroots and local leadership and providing support to the public sector. All these shifts will allow for this increasing international philanthropy and a more effective sector long after the pandemic has waned.

Emily Rahhal
Photo: Flickr

poverty in afghanistanForeign aid in any form can be considered positive at face value, but Afghanistan could benefit from greater investment in private organizations due to its specific needs. Aid from countries such as the U.S. is accompanied by political strings that, according to a U.S. agency report on Afghanistan, results in the Afghani government’s focusing on the goals of its foreign investors rather than the needs of its citizens. Poverty in Afghanistan requires attention unhindered by political expectations.

US Foreign Aid Policy

Secretary of State Mike Pompeo announced in March of 2020 that the U.S. would be cutting $1 billion in foreign aid to Afghanistan, which became a foreign policy initiative following major U.S. military presence in the country. The U.S. foreign aid is allocated to a variety of purposes, some of which attempt to address the widespread poverty that still impacts 54.5% of Afghans. Despite these efforts, poverty remains a large concern. For example, the number of Afghans without basic food and housing increased from 6.5 to 9.4 million between 2019 and 2020.

Dr. Jessica Trisko Darden, an assistant professor at American University with expertise in foreign aid and Central and Southeast Asia, asserts that different types of foreign aid are better suited to target specific goals. Darden noted that U.S. foreign aid in Afghanistan is largely concerned with developing infrastructure tied to the needs of the foreign parties in this country, such as Kabul International Airport. Additionally, while the U.S. aid package may set aside some portion of the money with the intention of addressing poverty in Afghanistan, the larger goals are often political in nature.

Non-Governmental Organizations’ Contribution

Private organizations could focus their resources on areas ignored by foreign government aid. “I think that, in terms of overall strategies for Afghanistan, getting more resources to outlying regions, and having more NGO and local NGO presence in outlying regions is something that should be a goal of a sustainable development strategy for Afghanistan, rather than continuing to over-concentrate resources and efforts in the Kabul area,” said Darden. The U.S. aid focusing on the Kabul area for accessibility and the ability to address political goals arguably takes away attention from less centralized regions. A larger NGO presence in the country could mean an established, long-term effort to target the humanitarian needs of Afghans and reduce poverty in Afghanistan.

Afghan Women’s Network

One of the most prominent independent groups acting in Afghanistan is the Afghan Women’s Network. It was created following inspiration from the United Nations Fourth World Conference on Women in 1995. This organization serves as an umbrella for a variety of humanitarian efforts in the country. It has direct points of contact in several major regions throughout the country and provides support to other organizations in the remaining regions. With 3,500 members and 125 women’s groups under its leadership, the Afghan Women’s Network has the ability and resources to provide immediate and specialized support to Afghans.

The political struggles of Afghanistan exist in tandem with the struggles of Afghani citizens. Multiple NGOs with unique goals ranging from gender equality to infant mortality to education could target the diverse needs of the Afghani population more directly. By supplying aid without political expectations and restrictions, NGOs could work to downsize poverty in Afghanistan.

Riya Kohli
Photo: Pixabay

The Human Cost of Puerto Rico's Debt
A humanitarian crisis is marked, among other things, by massive emigration and the failure of public services. These are two criteria already met by the increasingly perilous solvency issues mainly caused by Puerto Rico’s debt. If the U.S. does not respond quickly to this situation, its own citizens may require humanitarian aid.

Recently, Puerto Rico defaulted on a $58 billion debt owed by its Public Finance Corporation. Only $628,000 was attached in payment for what Governor Alejandro Garcia Padilla has called an unpayable debt. Meanwhile, conditions are deteriorating for those who remain on the island. Over 45% of Puerto Ricans live below the poverty line, and with the new Puerto Rico Oversight, Management, and Economic Stability Act (PROMESA), things are unlikely to improve in the near future.

One of PROMESA’s provisions will reduce the minimum wage in Puerto Rico to $4.25 for anyone under age 24. Residents paid up to 33% in local taxes even before the crisis and are now looking to the informal economy to supplement their incomes.

“It’s more lucrative to sell drugs than to work in Burger King,” said Ataveyra Hernandez, a former advisor to the governor. “Burger King wages won’t pay for a home.”

However, homes can certainly pay wages. In Puerto Rico’s public housing projects, residents working in the informal sector report zero income in order to gain preferential rents of only $25 per month. Factor in utility allowances from the federal government, $65 per month on average, and one can actually earn $40 per month by living in one of the island’s 54,000 public units.

Nevertheless, PROMESA does have its benefits. The first is a protection clause that stays any legal action by creditors that could disrupt Puerto Rico’s essential services. In August the U.S. District Court for Puerto Rico stayed three different lawsuits from creditors. These cases as well as others will remain frozen until Feb. 15, 2017.

PROMESA also caused the business community in San Juan to think critically about the island’s future. Puerto Rico is the fifth largest manufacturer of pharmaceuticals in the world, representing 12 of the top 20 firms.

This strong source of revenue has motivated airlines such as DHL and United to expand refrigerated transport services to Puerto Rico’s more than 45 pharmaceutical plants. United announced that there will be a six-fold increase in the number of flights from New York to San Juan as of December.

It is this sort of business development that could drive the island’s recovery. Colonial policies such as the 1920 Jones Act — which strictly limits maritime trade to American firms and shipping — may be re-thought after PROMESA.

For now, the U.S. will need to stem the human cost of Puerto Rico’s debt. That may mean loosening business controls on the island or perhaps even a referendum on statehood.

Alfredo Cumerma

Photo: Flickr

Women in JordanThe country of Jordan, a critical American ally, has been mostly ignored while the spotlight has been focused on Syria’s other neighbors, such as Turkey, Iraq and Lebanon. Yet, it has recently been noted that Jordan has taken on the burden of housing as many as 635,000 Syrian refugees, and has struggled with a disturbing rise of extremism. Another issue that has gone unnoticed is the surprising effects of extremism on women in Jordan.

Jordan is the world’s third-largest contributor of ISIS supporters. Research has shown that about 9,000 to 10,000 Jordan citizens are supporters of ISIS or other jihadi groups.

Until recently, young men have been considered the leading targeted group for recruiting extremists and thus have served as the perceived main threat to adjacent moderates and to other countries including the U.S.

In response to a large number of ISIS supporters, Jordan’s government has declared it is going to implement a new plan to fight the threat of radicalization by increasing security measures as well as implementing a project designed to target radical preachers and the young men perceived to be at the highest risk of indoctrination.

However, U.N. Women has published a study that has shown women in Jordan are equally or more affected by radicalization than men. The study shows that women are affected because of women’s lack of public space, the strict gender norms, and the increasing violence against women. These issues often leave women feeling as if they have no sense of belonging, with animosity toward certain political groups and searching for a greater purpose and a greater sense of identity — the main triggers associated with radicalization.

Islamic extremists target women, specifically, so that their children and other family members will already be indoctrinated into the group. Also, women are used as messengers to spread a doctrine across the community and often radicalized women congregate and develop a type of sisterhood.

The causes of radicalization can be reconditioned so that women in Jordan, instead of being victims and perpetrators of extremism, can be allies in the fight against extremism.

In other countries, the report has shown women can serve as monitors for threats of radicalization and help reinforce the status quo within their communities and families. However, this can only be achieved by facilitating the voices of women in Jordan and including these women in the decision-making processes within politics and academia, as well as increasing the opportunities for female imams.

Although Jordan is making efforts to fight the threats of extremism, the effects of this extremism on the women in Jordan need to be addressed. In order to fight extremism, violence and discrimination toward women need to be alleviated. Women have a strong influence over their families and communities; therefore, it essential for them to feel appreciated and feel that their voices are being heard in order for them to feel less inclined to join the extremists. Although women are victims of hate crimes, they are also, surprisingly, powerful influencers of radicalization.

Kayla Mehl

Photo: Flickr

foreign aid
The Development Initiatives research group reports that the total amount the world’s governments and private organizations spent on foreign assistance rose to $22 billion in 2013, the highest ever recorded. Private aid was $5.6 billion, an increase of over $1 billion from 2012, while government aid was $16.4 billion, about $3 billion higher than the amounts spent in the previous five years.

Most governments in developed countries considerably increased their international assistance spending last year. The United States in particular spent 18 percent more than it did in 2012 and contributed the most money of any country at $4.7 billion. Other countries, like Brazil and China, saw 97 percent and 84 percent drops in spending respectively, but most, including the United Kingdom, Japan, Canada and Germany, as well as the European Union governmental organizations, increased their foreign aid investments.

Why did governments increase their foreign aid spending so suddenly? Much of the aid increases occurred because of worsening violent conflicts and natural disasters around the globe. Much of the private aid increases went to help rebuild the Philippines after Typhoon Haiyan, while other aid went to help victims of clashes in South Sudan,the Central African Republic and Syria.

Syria in particular has received enormous support to help victims of the civil war. According to the World Bank, global aid to Syria increased from $335 million in 2011 to $1.67 billion in 2012, and that number continues to rise as more countries offer help. Turkey was the third-highest foreign aid donor after the U.S. and the UK because of its $1.6-billion effort to care for Syrian refugees. Even Kuwait, a small country not known for its foreign aid budget, raised so much money for Syria that its aid spending increased by 2,315 percent in 2013.

Despite this recent surge in funding, governments tended to concentrate their foreign aid spending on specific countries. The World Bank found that Afghanistan, the country receiving the most aid, got nearly $7 billion in 2012, but many countries in need received substantially less. “Just under a quarter of the total international humanitarian response went to the top five recipient countries, while other countries such as Nepal, Myanmar and Algeria continued to be de-prioritized,” said Dan Coppard, Development Initiatives’ director of research. World Bank data shows that Algeria received less than $200 million in 2012, while Nepal and Myanmar got less than $1 billion.

What does this new spending mean for long-term foreign aid policy? On one hand, it demonstrates that nations are willing to come together and offer help to suffering people. However, they responded to immediately visible natural disasters and conflicts, and there were many countries in need that received very little help. The desire to give foreign aid exists, but advocates must work to make issues requiring international development spending more visible and relevant to governments and their constituents.

– Ted Rappleye

Sources: The Guardian, The World Bank
Photo: NY Times

reduce global poverty
The United States has one of the biggest economies in the world, yet spends only a small portion of its money on ending global poverty. As one of the most influential agenda-setters and biggest economic and military forces, the U.S. must accept its responsibility to the global project to reduce global poverty. There are several ways the U.S. is already tackling the issue, but it could certainly do more. These three specific methods are already in place, but need to be expanded upon in order to allow the U.S. to fulfill its potential in humanitarian aid. To play its role in reducing global poverty, the U.S. government must…

1. Pass bills.

Bills like the Electrify Africa Act and the Global Food Security Act are crucial to ending global poverty, and rely entirely on the U.S. people and government to be a success.

Take Electrify Africa for example. This bill would help provide electricity to 50 million people in Africa. This progress is essential for providing better security, health care and housing for families in need and is crucial for ending global poverty and inequality. The U.S. government is in an important role to make sure this step is taken. Luckily, the Electrify Africa Act has already seen huge success on the floor of the House of Representatives and was passed with overwhelming bipartisan support. Now it moves into the Senate, where it has already been read and referred to the Committee on Foreign Relations. The U.S. government has a responsibility to pass bills like this one in order to work toward ending global poverty.

2. Give more funding to foreign aid.

When it comes to the amount given as foreign aid, the U.S. ranks 19th in the world. This is simply unacceptable. The U.S. has one of the most powerful economies, yet it ranks 11th of 22 major donors for quality of foreign aid. Only 1.5 percent of the federal budget goes toward international affairs, as compared to 23.6 percent on social security or 18.4 percent on defense spending.

In order to effectively end global poverty, the U.S. must increase their foreign aid, specifically by increasing the budget of the U.S. Agency on International Development (USAID), which oversees all international humanitarian efforts the U.S. is involved in. This money is used to assist developing nations by fighting endemic disease, providing emergency aid after natural disasters and implementing agricultural programs to increase food security. The more aid that goes to these projects, the more successful they can be in ending global poverty and treating its side effects.

3. Work with other governments and international organizations.

The U.S. does have domestic issues to worry about, and as a result, cannot logically put all its energy into fighting global poverty. But it can work with and support international organizations that do just that. In the recent past, USAID, which is the U.S. powerhouse for international assistance projects, has worked with UNICEF and other international aid organizations on programs that tackle issues like poor nutrition in African countries and social development in Nigeria. U.S. collaboration with international organizations through the USAID allows the U.S. to have a role in reducing global poverty. The U.S. government should facilitate more of this type of partnership between USAID and other international aid organizations in order to live up to its obligation to work toward reducing poverty around the world.

Foreign aid and humanitarian assistance are complicated issues when taken in the context of the entire U.S. government, but it is crucial that the U.S. does not forget its responsibility to ending world poverty and continue to work toward this goal. The U.S., as one of the world’s most powerful nations, has the ability to make a significant difference in the world on extreme poverty through several methods and it is our job to ensure that our government stays on track toward achieving this mission.

– Caitlin Thompson

Sources: Leadership News, USAID, Center for Global Development, The concord Coalition, Oxfam America, The White House, Govtrack, Congress.gov, ONE, Vanguard
Photo: WPR

National Climate Assessment
Recently, a Green Iowa Americorps member informed me that farmers in the state of Iowa have lost four days of field time since 1896. Due to an increase of approximately 8% in rainfall across the state, farmers now face very rainy springs and drier autumns, both of which threaten the hydrologic balance necessary for crop production.

For Iowa farmers, these changes affect their livelihood from year to year. More rain during the planting season could equate to a season without a harvest, or at least lower yields. These changes also incur anxiety for the state’s residents, many of whom were affected by the large-scale flooding in 2008 and who now look to spring with apprehension.

The Third National Climate Assessment released by the White House on May 5 takes note of the climate changes taking effect across the country, like the ones observed in Iowa, and chastises the definitive changes humans have brought to the world.

The report informs, in detail, how climate change will adversely affect the American water supply, agriculture, human health and ecosystems, among other things.

Despite the report’s thorough and informative nature, as well as its website’s appealing layout, it fails to stress the global impact of American culture on the rest of the world. While the report was created to address the problems of climate within the U.S., it only just addresses the U.S.’s prominence in creating it around the world, thereby creating a blind spot in any discussion of climate and limiting the report’s effectiveness.

Warmer air and higher ocean temperatures, melting ice and snow and an increased presence of diseases spread by mosquitoes and other vectors could disrupt food production and foster global poverty and hunger.

The U.S. itself plays a major role in climate change, a reality this report skims over lightly. While global concerns are mentioned, such as how “global temperatures could cause associated increases in premature deaths related to worsened ozone and particle pollution,” the U.S. isn’t named as one of the prime instigator’s of this trend. Instead, the U.S. is treated as one of the victims.

The Environmental Protection Agency reported in 2008 that the leading CO2 emitters were China, the U.S., the European Union, India, the Russian Federation, Japan and Canada. For third world countries attempting to catch up with the U.S. and other world powers, energy efficient manufacturing means are out of reach, something the U.S. should confront and have a greater hand in supporting.

The U.S. Energy Information Agency reports that the U.S. consumes 11.65 barrels of petroleum oil per person every single day, and consumes 205,824 Kilowatt-hours of energy per person. In comparison, Haiti, one of the poorest countries in the world, only consumes one thousandth of a barrel per person and  21.6 Kilowatt-hours of energy per person.

Instead of addressing climate change in order to look after the U.S.’ own domestic interests, the U.S. government and its citizens need to be more responsible for how their actions impact the rest of the world.

— Emily Bajet

Sources: Houston Chronicle, U.S. Global Change, The White House, EPA, The Guardian, Green Alliance, The Guardian(2), EIA
Photo: Flickr

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Return on Investment of U.S. Foreign Assistance

 

 

 

TOP COMPANIES TELL CONGRESS TO PROTECT AID PROGRAMS

In May of 2017, more than 200 major companies sent a letter to Congress urging that the International Affairs Budget be protected. As all but five percent of the world’s consumers live outside the U.S. and many of the fastest growing economies are in the developing world, these business leaders believe it is in the economic interest of their companies for the U.S. to increase foreign aid spending and address poverty.

MEET THE NEW CONSUMERS OF U.S. PRODUCTS:
THE WORLD’S FASTEST GROWING ECONOMIES

  1. Libya 17.8
  2. Rwanda 8.5
  3. Bangladesh 7.7
  4. Ethiopia 7.7
  5. Côte D’Ivoire 7.4
  6. Cambodia 7.2
  7. India 7.0
  8. Tajikistan 7.0
  9. Vietnam 7.0
  10. Dominican Republic 7.0

Annual average GDP growth % 
(World Atlas)

YUM!

By the end of 2018, Yum! Brands Inc. (KFC, Taco Bell and Pizza Hut) had 62% of its operations overseas, with many of these locations in Africa and Asia. This consequently allowed 6,300 U.S. food and paper suppliers to increase their sales and exports to these franchises abroad.

“We need to stop viewing it as aid. It’s an investment.”
– Former Secretary of Defense, Chuck Hagel (R-NE)

The purpose of foreign aid is to end the need for its existence.”
– Mark Green, USAID Administrator 

“United States government investments in the international affairs budget have had an instrumental impact creating healthier, safer and more stable societies around the world.”
– Sam Worthington, InterAction CEO

“From an economic perspective, what happens in one country has ripple effects throughout the world.”
– Chris Policinski, Former CEO Land O’Lakes 

“We have no choice but to stay engaged in the world. 95% of the people we want to sell something to live somewhere else, and America’s access to and leadership in foreign markets is critical. We’re the largest exporter by a significant factor, and we need to capitalize on that.” 
– Thomas J. Donohue, Former President U.S. Chamber of Commerce

“Reducing global poverty is in our nation’s best interest, and a sustained collaboration between the private sector and the government is needed in this regard.”
– Carly Fiorina, Former CEO of Hewlett-Packard Company

“The growth of the developing world presents a major economic opportunity for American business today and a thousand opportunities tomorrow… We urge American companies to roll up their sleeves, get out there and engage with the economic opportunities that are emerging across the world. This is a moment to lean forward and take the kind of informed risks that have led to some of our greatest successes.”
– Former Secretary of State, Hillary Clinton