I was in Washington, D.C. with Bread for the World people recently. I learned a great deal! I learned that legislators over the last 30 years have faithfully placed a “circle of protection” around our foreign development dollars: which is 0.6% of the federal budget, although many say it is 1% and people in the street imagine it to be as much as 25%. It is so small, it will do nothing to balance the budget if eliminated.
Foreign development funds do not enter the coffers of despots nor line the pockets of dictators. It is military foreign aid that gets abused in this way. Our foreign development funds support sustainable development, like programs for women in agriculture or entrepreneurship, and provide milk, beans, rice and porridge to save the lives of children overseas.
The 1000 Day Campaign supports infants through to the age of 2 years. As a humane nation, we are developing these countries for the sake of the future but we are also creating our future foreign markets. We need other countries to purchase our products. This is another reason U.S. Department of Defense Secretary Gates supports our foreign development fund investment–0.6% of our budget–and says we should not reduce it.
I learned that our domestic programs for the poor and hungry have also been kept within this “circle of protection.” These programs are about 14% of the budget. I learned that for every $1 that is spent in WIC and SNAP (food stamps) $1.73 is returned to our economy. If I could get $1.73 back for every $1 I gave you, I would give you all that I could!
Even in cases of abuse, each $1 spent in domestic programs for the poor and the hungry still returns $1.73 to our economy. I am not defending those who abuse our system of domestic relief, but there is no net loss with these programs, and the amount of good they do is measurable.
I personally asked all of my Washington representatives to keep that “circle of protection” around programs for the hungry and the poor. Have you? Tell them Bread for the World and Jesus sent you.