08/20/13

Two Evils

So my wife and I have been trying to get our own finances in order. You would think that counting $6 would be pretty straight forward. The real obstacle to making additional room in your budget is the “fixed” costs. Those are the costs that can’t be eliminated or easily reduced. Think your mortgage or lease. Medical insurance. Wild skee-ball binges down at Frankie’s Fun Park. Because these costs are “fixed” so to speak, they are not typically a good source of potential savings or cost cutting. You have to look to more discretionary spending like shopping or entertainment or your kids’ underwear. Non-essentials.

Egypt’s President Mohommed Morsi, not-long-ago the benefactor, himself, of a cultural and political revolution, was recently displaced by the Egyptian military, in what they staunchly would reject as anything like an illegitimate coup. Since that time, the military has been at literal war with the Muslim Brotherhood, who support Morsi. Nearly a thousand dead. In the middle of this human tragedy, is the geo-political crisis of our own financial aid to Egypt and the military in particular. Our Congress is divided over whether to choose between two fairly poor options in continuing to give aid to the Egyptian military or substantially reducing, or withdrawing, it, altogether. (There is a third option, but it involves Brendan Fraser and 6 fabric bolts of embalming gauze. Or maybe it’s Nicholas Cage and a precious national heirloom. The alternatives are all running together.)

We are slated to provide, in mostly military, but some economic, aid, for fiscal year 2014, $1.55 BILLION dollars to Egypt. In 2013, we are budgeted to provide, globally, $37 billion, between $23 billion in humanitarian aid and $14 Billion in military aid, like that provided to Egypt. Stunningly, however, this is still less than 1% of our national budget. And .0003% of what it costs to buy, a medium-sized family, popcorn and soda at the movies.

In 2012, we spent 107.6 billion on education. That’s only 3 times more than what we do for other countries (but is still, on a percentage of total budget basis, number one in the world). It is also half as much as we spend on those car window stickers that tell you how many people and of what kind, star wars or zombie, you have in your family.

star wars family car

So is foreign aid, and the $1.55 Billion to Egypt, specifically, a fixed cost? Is it non-negotiable, in other words? For the importance of the Suez Canal and the instability of the entire region, the answer is probably yes. We need to maintain our influence. But, as our own country struggles to pay its debts and create real jobs, it sure would be nice to not have to flush 2 billion dollars down a war-torn sink hole. It’s like when times are tough, you go to a smaller cable package. Or buy Dr. Bob’s instead of Dr. Pepper. Or stop flushing. I mean. Like every other time or so.

But, so it is with public policy. Typically it turns on a lesser of two evils. Either we continue to prop up an Egyptian military, guilty of relatively heinous human rights violations, but who, at least, doesn’t envision a fully dedicated eighth century Muslim state or we pull the plug and allow continued chaos and possibly the emergence of an eighth century Muslim state. (Actually, relatively speaking, an eighth century Muslim state would be a shining beacon of tolerance compared to modern Egypt.)

As usual, I don’t really know what I’m talking about. I can’t seem to keep up with the government’s version of its own foreign “aid” to me, my federal paycheck. The other day, I tried to make a deposit using my smartphone bank application. No luck. But, now I have a startlingly high new personal best on Temple Run 2.

Oh, and as a disclaimer to the song, no offense to little people or female athletes. Sometimes, you just have to obey the rhyme scheme and the comedy.

Written and performed by theipoetlaureate. Music produced Haralduz7.

Today’s blong here:

The Lesser Of