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Northwest Voices

Seattle Times letters to the editor

September 30, 2013 at 6:23 AM

U.S. foreign aid

We need to give more

My whole life, I was always proud to call myself an American, because I believed the United States did its best to help those who lived in other countries who were less fortunate than me.

It wasn’t until about a month ago, when I became a regional director for the Borgen Project, that I found out the U.S. actually puts aside less than 1 percent of its budget for foreign aid.

How many Americans are aware of this number? Very few. Even many of my peers studying international affairs believed this number to be much higher.

The fact is that foreign aid and efforts to reduce global poverty are believed by many Americans to be receiving much more of our country’s money than they really are.

What can we do as citizens to fix this problem? First, we can share this number with everyone we know. The first step to change is raising awareness. Second, we can let our congressional leaders know that we are not satisfied with this number. We can ask them to support legislation that promotes transparency of foreign aid and an increased focus on reducing global poverty.

Possibly the most powerful solution that is available to the American citizen is the ability to redirect the attention of the media. The media follows the news stories that we choose to follow. They track the links we click on and the articles we read.

If 90 percent of us click on Angelina Jolie instead of poverty in sub-Saharan Africa, then the media will give us more Angelina and less global poverty.

Is there a direct correlation between the percentage of news articles about global poverty and the percent of the U.S. budget that goes toward foreign aid?

The only way to find out is by changing our habits.

Kelsey Garcia, Woodinville

0 Comments | More in Foreign policy, Politics | Topics: foreign aid, global poverty, United States

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