Friday, December 26, 2008

Boxing Days Future

Today is Boxing Day, a holiday traditionally celebrated in Commonwealth countries such as Australia, Canada, New Zealand, and the United Kingdom by giving cash or durable goods to "those less fortunate." It seems, then, an appropriate day to reflect on the effects of the current financial crisis on American foreign assistance spending. As we tighten our belts in response to the economic meltdown and in fear of an ongoing credit crunch, limiting aid to the developing world might seem a sensible step. However, Laurie Garrett, a Senior Fellow for Global Health at the Council on Foreign Relations, explains:

[I]n so doing Congress risks not only reversing all that has been achieved with U.S. tax dollars since 1990, but endangering the lives of millions of people. Furthermore, any backpedaling in U.S. support risks undermining disease surveillance and response capabilities, thereby directly threatening American security.

As we reel from news of Ponzi schemes and corporate implosions that impact the uber-rich to the working class here in the United States, it is all too easy to forget that the cost of a severe recession will be amplified in the developing world. In the words of Robert Zoellick, President of the World Bank:

While people in the developed world are focused on the financial crisis, many forget that a human crisis is rapidly unfolding in developing countries. It is pushing poor people to the brink of survival.

High food prices will push an estimated 44 million of the world's poorest people into malnutrition this year. Despite economic hardships in the United States, this is no time to turn our back on those who will suffer the most from the financial crisis. The Obama administration should do its utmost to ensure a strong commitment to foreign assistance, as further detailed by groups such as the Modernizing Foreign Assistance Network. Here's hoping that's what we'll see on Boxing Days future.

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Fairy said...
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