Editorial: Looming budget cuts threaten global balance, may hurt those that need aid most

By Laura Hancq
November 9, 2011

While we will be enjoying our Thanksgiving turkeys and leisurely watching football, Congress will be hard at work deliberating on the federal budget. It has been very difficult for Congress to compromise, which is why our voices can really matter right now.

Many of the classes at Cabrini are currently studying this current event and students are working diligently to decide where they believe money should go. In the difficult current economic state, cuts are going to obviously be needed.

Through the social justice curriculum, many Cabrini students are learning about poverty focused development assistance and how the foreign aid portion of the budget is crucial to the common good. The Loquitur editorial staff firmly believes we cannot abandon our commitment to the common good at this crucial time in the history of our country.

Poverty focused development assistance is not the United States giving a handout. The money from this part of the budget goes to people living in extreme poverty, those who live on a dollar a day, to help bring their communities onto the ladder of development by addressing systemic issues. The goal is to help these communities grow in a positive way in order to reach sustainability.

While many people feel we have a moral obligation, which goes along with Catholic Social Teaching, sometimes the moral side gets swept under the rug because of the needs of the economy. However, even in a turbulent economy, our obligation to those in need cannot be forgotten.

Currently, 0.06 percent of our budget goes to poverty-focused development assistance. If you tried to visualize that amount, it would look like six pennies out of $100. While realistically we are probably not in a position to increase that amount right now, we also should not be cutting it drastically. It’s such a small amount that it really will not cover our deficits and it does so much good that if we take that away, so much progress will be halted.

While economic prosperity is always at the top of the agenda, so is peace. The best way to have a hand in your own safety is to keep our friends close and our enemies closer. Terrorism breeds in extreme poverty. When people have no hope and no options, that anger can lead to participation in extremist groups. We can do more than aim guns to protect ourselves and as a country, we already are. We just can’t stop.

Part of the reason we have good foreign relations with certain countries is because we come to their aid or we are helping them achieve sustainability. In a time of uncertainty for our own country, we need all the friends we can get. If we cut the aid, if thousands of people lose their jobs because of it, we may do irrevocable damage to these positive relationships. We can’t say, “well, we can only focus on ourselves now but we hope in the future you will be our friend again.” It’s a consistent effort and we need to maintain these relationships for our own benefit. Plus, we do not want the millions of dollars already spent to make positive change to go to waste by halting development.

Ultimately, once countries reach sustainability, they can become trading partners in the global market. Right now, many of our technologically advanced products can only be traded with certain countries. Imagine the boost to our economy if so many more people could buy our products. You can’t really consider buying an iPhone when you don’t even have access to clean water.

What can you do? You can write to your Congress members and senators to let them know you care or make an appointment to go speak to them as a lobbyist. Anyway you can show them YOU care before they vote can have a direct effect on what happens. They want to hear from the people who elect them; they represent you for a reason. To look up your congressional district and who to contact please visit actioncenter.crs.org.

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Laura Hancq

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