Americans think foreign aid should be the first casualty of budget-trimming, a poll shows—but we also want it to be 10 times what it is now. That’s because most Americans think foreign aid makes up a quarter of the federal budget, and want to cut it to 10%. In fact, it’s only 1%. Foreign-aid misconceptions are rampant, writes Ken Hackett, president of Catholic Relief Services, in the Christian Science Monitor, and we need to fix that before we cut the budget.
For one thing, "foreign aid isn’t just handouts": It comes in a variety of forms, and much of it is focused on developing self-reliance in matters like agriculture and government. It also comes with standards of accountability that didn't necessarily exist decades ago. "The idea that the US is simply throwing money at problems, which results in throwing money away, is a big misconception." But here's the other thing: Foreign aid is also a good investment. “It is much cheaper to keep communities from failing than to try to reconstruct them when they do.” And with only "a tiny percentage of our spending at stake," Hackett notes, "funding these programs is a no-brainer."