Wednesday, August 15, 2007

New Hampshire Voters Agree On Foreign Policy

Here are some results from a recent poll of New Hampshire voters:

Nearly all Democrats (97%) and 70% of Republicans agree that America’s standing has suffered in recent years. In addition to a strong military, Democrats (91%) and Republicans (78%) agree that the United States also needs to improve diplomatic relations by doing more to help improve health, education and opportunities in the poorest countries around the world. Both Democrats (81%) and Republicans alike (70%) agree that reducing poverty, treating preventable diseases and improving education in poor countries around the world will help make the world safer and the United States more secure.

Democrats and Republicans agree that America has a moral obligation as a compassionate nation to help the world’s poorest people through foreign assistance. More than nine in ten Democrats (93%) and 84% of Republicans agree that when millions of children around the world are dying from preventable diseases and hunger, we have a moral obligation to do what we can to help. Similarly, Democrats (90%) and Republicans (85%) agree that it is in keeping with the country’s values and our history of compassion to lead an effort to solve some of the most serious problems facing the world’s poorest people.

When it comes to addressing these issues, Democrats (86%) and Republicans (67%) agree that it is important for Presidential candidates to discuss their plans for addressing global hunger and poverty issues in this campaign. Additionally, eight in ten Democrats (81%) and Republicans (80%) agree that the next President should keep the commitments made by President Bush to prevent and fight the spread of AIDS in Africa.

Source: Daily KOS

Of course, who cares what the average American wants. Our sacred Foreign Policy Community is not listening.


jamie said...

You know, I find it wonderfully ironic that so many in my own state want to send more money to other countries to help fund education yet our state government can't seem to solve the education funding issues here. We're worst in the nation for funding, for crying out loud!

Beyond that, though, it at least comforts me to know so many here in NH care about helping out the rest of the world. I would certainly much rather we as a nation did more constructive helping than going around acting the bully and beating up little countries, supposedly out of the kindness of our hearts.

Rambodoc said...

I agree with Jamie. I don't think the US has any obligation to spend money on Africa and other continents. The feeling that it is immoral to be rich when the rest of the world is starving sounds superficially appealing, but it fails to hide the fact that wealth was not gifted to the US, it was created. The rest of the world, now called the Third World, went about socialising everything, and controlling their populace to the point of having dictatorships of and on, more the latter. It has been demonstrated scientifically that most of the funds going to Africa, for example, is wasted. It takes a government expenditure of 50,000 USD to save one child's life, but only 10 USD is actually needed. This is real, this is truth.
I am dismayed to hear that Americans are so ashamed of themselves and their prosperity that they feel like this.
Paul, you probably disagree with me, but that's it.

Paul said...

Actually, Rambodoc, we do agree it's pathetic to spend money on the rest of the world out of shame at being wealthy. On the other hand, I happen to think there are pragmatic reasons why it is in the interests of the American people, among others, to do what they can to help the poorest nations get themselves out of poverty. But note, I said "do what they can". And by that I certainly don't mean to endorse the way things are done currently. Foreign aid today is administered in ways that often do more damage than good.

Arunk said...

I agree that just throwing money around out of some moral discomfort is not exactly smart. You are only trying to remove that your own discomfort and not really helping. Good intentions but that's about it. But I am not sure I agree with rambodoc that there need be no obligation/need to help others.

Is wealth really created or is it really "won" - sometimes grabbed? Was ALL wealth (say of US) created by fair and square means, and NEVER at the expense of others? Who created the rules, and did everyone agree to it? Or is it that it does not matter as long as you are comfortable how you attained it? Then same would apply for those who are comfortable using more forcible means invasion, colonization, economic bullying etc. After all in life, it is the survival of the fittest and his yes-men. By that, anything should go. So why even have any rules at all? Why shouldnt it be no-rules, no-limits?

Perhaps these are the reasons why some people think there are obligations.

Btw, I ask some of that only in half-jest as I do have a doubt. Is all the wealth in world there finite and simply moves around - sort of like stock market stuff?

Ashwin said...

The USA has no obligation to help, but it can increase its standing in the world by doing so. Plus, why wouldn't you want to help others?

Shame is used to create sympathy for charities because shame is the only tool that aid workers have. People will never give out of magnamity because people just don't give a damn.

Rambodoc said...

If giving aid would make a country popular, the US would have, for long, been the apple of the world's eye. The world that hates the US does so not because it doesn't give enough, but because it is so free, rich, assertive and proud. Yeas, there have been, over the last many years, foreign policy controversies, and I believe that the US should become more or less isolationist, and keep its own money, too.

Paul said...

Jamie, that is indeed ironic. While I'm for doing things to help people around the world (assuming those things actually help them), I think we should take care of those closest to us first. For one thing, we are much more likely to understand their needs and how to help them than we are likely to understand the needs and how to help someone who lives distant from us.

Welcome to my blog, Arunk! I agree with both you and Rambodoc that one should not throw money around out of some moral discomfort. But I also agree with you, Arunk, that we do have some kind of obligation to help others if we can.

You ask, "Is all the wealth in world there finite and simply moves around - sort of like stock market stuff?" It's my understanding that new wealth can be created -- and indeed is created on a daily basis in this amazing world of ours. So, it's not like one person becoming wealthy means someone else must become poor.

Ashwin, I'm forced to disagree with you here. I think some people do give out of motives other than shame. We are, after all, a social species of animals. We are probably evolved to help others under some circumstances.

Rambodoc, I don't think the US should give aid in order to become popular. But if the US can do something without hurting its own interests to help another country lift itself out of poverty, then why shouldn't it go ahead and do that?

Rambodoc said...

Because that money belongs to the tax-payers, and should be used only to protect their rights and property!

Paul said...

"Rights and property" alone? What about also using the money to advance the citizen's interests? And then what if a majority of the voters think it is within their interests to fund micro-credit banks in Third World Nations? Wouldn't that be legitimate?

By the way, thank you for discussing this with me. I feel your sharp and insightful opinions are helping me to see more than one side to all of this.

Mahendra Palsule said...

Again, I'm completely with Rambodoc here, since we come from the same Objectivist philosphical mould.

"Using money to advance citizen's interests": perfectly legitimate. US Indo nuclear deal advances US citizen's interests. US's role in WTO to influence India and China to open up their markets advances citizen's interests. How? By increasing the wealth of the American shareholders in these companies.

Giving aid to poor nations doesn't necessarily act in its interests as most of it is wasted.

If majority of voters think it is in their interest to invest in third world micro-credit funds, they are free to do so, using mutual funds in the open US economy. That's what the free market in the US is all about. A Chinese cannot do so, nor are other 'closed' economies. It is not required for a government to act on and decide on the behalf of the whole population where to invest its money, except to protect its rights and property.

Paul said...

Those are interesting point, Mahendra. I'm going to have to give them some thought.

Arunk said...

But how much of a right do citizens have in determining how the country spends the tax money? If a significant enough # of citizens think some of their tax money is better spent aiding countries (even at zero return), than developing the next billion dollar fighting plane, which may fail and includes kickbacks and commissions - can they do so? Or sorry - do that in mutual funds?

Of course there is already a provision for this via state and federal representatives (whether every of them truly represents their citizen's interests every time is a different issue).

But the question is can we judge giving aid is completely wrong, is misusing tax money and quote representation of rights at the same time?

You represent the rights/views of your citizens (even if you may disagree with few of them) - I thought that was democracy.