As the whole world is racing to find a vaccine for COVID-19, it has become clearer than ever that we live in a global society that is incredibly interconnected. We all seem to understand that for one nation to completely overcome this pandemic, we must all overcome it together.

The thing that we don’t seem to understand is that this global community exists all the time, not just when we’re facing a pandemic. Individual nations like the United States do not always hold this regard for a global community, even when its connections can directly benefit us. Aside from the obvious ethical implications of this mindset, we are actively restricting ourselves economically by limiting our international aid programs.

Nationally, 43 of our top 50 consumer nations were once recipients of foreign aid. In Louisiana, three of our top five export locations are some of the largest recipients of foreign aid.

Mexico, for example, received $8.355 billion of exports from Louisiana and $299.2 billion from the U.S. in 2019. This is after the United States provided $1.7 billion in aid to Mexico from 1960 to 2005, allowing it to grow economically. Mexico’s growth is just one of several examples of a small investment toward poverty reduction returning massive trade benefits for the United States.

So, if international aid has such a positive impact on the United States’ domestic economy, why does it receive so little legislative and budgetary attention? Part of the reason may be that the general population views domestic poverty and global poverty as competing issues — that putting money toward one is taking it away from the other. This is not the case.

Congress can increase the budgets for both domestic poverty reduction and global poverty reduction programs simultaneously, both of which would involve economic benefits for the United States. Therefore, I urge residents of Louisiana to reach out to your representatives and express your support for international aid legislation.

EMILY KNIGHT

member, The Borgen Project

Baton Rouge