The economy of Mexico is the 13th largest in the world and the 11th in buying power. British economist Jim O’Neill, former head of asset management for Goldman Sachs, said recently that, “Mexico has a unique opportunity to steal the thunder of no less a giant than China.” Remember Ross Perot’s warning about that giant sucking sound of jobs going south of the border because of the North America Free Trade Agreement? It’s turned out to be a whirlpool. According to 2013 Census Bureau data, the U.S. had a trade surplus with Mexico of $1.6 billion in 1993, but that has plunged full speed to a trade deficit of $50.1 billion last year. Yet the amount of foreign aid that the U.S. gave to Mexico during 2012 was $317 million. And here’s a stick-in-the-eye note: in an article this writer penned for the Unz Review, a Government Accounting Office report found that of the 1,954 mile border with Mexico, only 44 percent — 860 miles — is under “operational control.” The average cost per mile of border fencing, to protect American jobs from illegal aliens, was $3.9 million a mile. The advantage of cutting off aid to Mexico and applying it to building the fence? You do the math.
The economy of South Africa is currently the largest in Africa. Since 1996, Pretoria’s Gross Domestic Product (GDP) has almost tripled to $400 billion, and its foreign exchange reserves have increased from $3 billion to nearly $50 billion. In 2011, Uncle Sam said they needed $757 million of taxpayer’s money to make things a bit better — that’s about 190 miles of U.S.-Mexico border fencing.
Oil-rich Nigeria’s economy is set to outpace South Africa within a year or two — America donated 132 miles worth of U.S. border fence — I mean $530 million last year.
The Philippines 2013 annual GDP growth rate of 7.2 percent was the fastest rate of growth seen in a two-year period since 1954-1955. The Philippines’ annual growth rate is second only to China, which grew at 7.7 percent last year. That good news earned Manila some $610 million, approximately 340 miles of border security, from our foreign giveaway aid program.
Then there is Israel. It is slightly smaller than New Jersey and has a population equal to Arizona. On the 2012 UN Human Development Index, Israel ranks 16th of 187 countries which earns it a rating of “Very Highly Developed.” Although Israel’s per capita income roughly equal to South Korea or Spain, Washington will send Tel Aviv $9.3 million every single day in 2014. According to a Congressional Research Service report, U.S. military aid underwrites over 18 percent of the entire Israeli defense budget.
That sugar daddy relationship, criticized for years but only in whispers, is just now being quietly discussed.
Presidential candidate, Congressman Ron Paul (R-TX) put the question on the table during the 2012 campaign: “Foreign aid makes Israel dependent on us,” he said. “It softens them for their own economy. And they should have their sovereignty back, they should be able to deal with their neighbors at their own will.”
Long time Huffington Post blogger Steven Strauss’ 2013 post entitled “Israel Has Reached Childhood’s End — It’s Time to End U.S. Aid to Israel,”still makes the rounds in Middle East debates.
Even Naftali Bennett, leader of the right wing Jewish Home Party, has observed, “I think, generally, we need to free ourselves from it [U.S. aid]. We have to do it responsibly, since I’m not aware of all the aspects of the budget, I don’t want to say, ‘let’s just give it up,’ but our situation today is very different from what it was 20 and 30 years ago. Israel is much stronger, much wealthier, and we need to be independent.”
Of course the money pipeline to Israel will continue to flow freely because, as former President Jimmy Carter asserts, “Reluctance to criticize any policies of the Israeli government is because of the extraordinary lobbying efforts of the American-Israel Public Affairs Committee. It would be almost politically suicidal for members of Congress.”
The political machinations of Israel aid aside, the mechanics of how taxpayer dollars are spent — and wasted — are mind-blowing. A report from the Council on Foreign Relations on aid to Sudan revealed, “Since 2005, state officials and government contractors have stolen an estimated $4 billion from treasury coffers — an amount equivalent to 30 percent of the country’s annual economic output.“
The anti-corruption advocacy group Global Financial Integrity says almost a sixth of Angola’s entire annual budget — $6 billion — is ripped off annually.
The New York Times asserts, “For more than a decade, wads of American dollars packed into suitcases, backpacks and, on occasion, plastic shopping bags have been dropped off every month or so at the offices of Afghanistan’s president — courtesy of the Central Intelligence Agency. All told, tens of millions of dollars have flowed from the C.I.A. to the office of President Hamid Karazai, according to current and former advisers to the Afghan leader. ‘We called it ‘ghost money,’ said Khalil Roman, who served as Mr. Karzai’s deputy chief of staff from 2002 until 2005. ‘It came in secret, and it left in secret.’”
How to fix the flood of our money into overseas rat holes? Senator Rand Paul observes, “The administration once promised transparency, but nations such as Egypt and Pakistan now regularly receive billions of our dollars with no reasonable amount of oversight or enforceable conditions. Part of the problem is that the State Department has not had an inspector general in more than five years. This position is specifically designed to ferret out wasteful programs and instances of misused or stolen program funds. The House Committee on Foreign Affairs sent Mr. Kerry a letter in February asking that the secretary appoint someone to fill this vacancy. Today, the position remains unfilled.” That’s a practical idea — but such initiatives don’t fly fast and far on Capitol Hill.
Eventually we must stop the waste then re-tool and reduce American largesse. And there’s an extra reward for doing so: that 1100 miles of border fencing that Washington politicians promised would be built may actually be erected.
Peter B. Gemma has been published in a variety of venues including USA Today (where more than 100 of his commentaries have appeared), Military History, the DailyCaller.com, The Washington Examiner, and the EconomicPopulist.org