In response to letter writer Gerald Nechvatal (Sept. 28), Mr. Nechvatal spent a lot of time on the grants.gov Web site, but he failed to peel the onion a little more in order to completely understand the purpose of USAID, which is the organization that funds these programs he speaks of. USAID spends less than half of 1 percent of the federal budget and does not take from Social Security or Medicare. USAID’s history goes back to the Marshall Plan reconstruction of Europe after World War II and the Truman Administration’s Point Four Program. In 1961, the Foreign Assistance Act was signed into law and USAID was created by executive order. USAID has been the principal U.S. agency to extend assistance to countries recovering from disaster, trying to escape poverty and engaging in democratic reforms.
The United States has a long history of extending a helping hand to those people overseas struggling to make a better life, recover from a disaster or striving to live in a free and democratic country. It is this caring that stands as a hallmark of the United States around the world, and shows
the world our true character as a nation.
This is why we are the greatest country on Earth. We help those that are less fortunate than ourselves and we do that without depriving our own citizens.
Because of many USAID initiatives, the U.S. has reaped astounding financial benefits such as $50 billion increase in U.S. exports to developing and transition countries, building a $50 billion annual market for private power in which U.S. firms have captured the largest share of these markets, U.S. exports of food processing and packaging machinery have increased from about $680 million in 1994 to over $2 billion in 2005, due partly to USAID-funded projects that have increased supplies of agricultural raw materials for processing, and since 1987, USAID has initiated HIV/AIDS prevention programs in 32 countries, and is the leader in the design and development of these programs in the developing world.
You see, there is always more to the story if you dig a little deeper and understand the impact of foreign spending and its repercussions.
Less than one-half of 1 percent of the federal budget spent is well worth the investment, compared to what we get back as a country and the good we do around the world. Incidentally, the largest amount of money given to Lebanon was in 2006 by then President Bush when he announced over $230 million in humanitarian reconstruction and security assistance to Lebanon. And I assure you they are not using it to teach bomb making in their schools.
Remember, every person deserves to live in a free, open society that respects the rights of all. The United States helps make this a reality for millions of people around the world with virtually no cost to our own citizens.
Cary Silverman, Canton