…This was the question I was asking myself as a read Mr. Gates’ recent article in Time magazine. He penned this wonderful article expressing his concern about the lack of foreign aid in the proposed budget. He makes the case that by cutting aide to foreign countries we actually make ourselves less safe. In the article he argues that ..
“Protecting Americans, preventing epidemics, strengthening markets, saving lives: aid delivers phenomenal benefits, and for a bargain. It represents less than 1 percent of the federal budget, not even a penny out of every dollar. It is some of the best return on investment anywhere in government. This money is well spent, it has an enormous impact, and it ought to be maintained.”
What I find most interesting is that this argument was not based on his work with Microsoft but his work with health and human services. Over the last decade Mr. Gates has become increasingly involved in philanthropy and healthcare. His case for foreign aide is not about selling computers but slowing down the HIV/AIDS and Ebola epidemics.
This comes on the heels for President Trump meeting with German Chancellor Angela Merkel. He consistently makes the case that “The United States has been treated very unfairly economically” by other countries. Candidate Trump ran on promises to “Make America Great Again”. Now as President he has taken this stance to put “America First”. The legacy of this slogan is troubling but I digress.
These messages have resonated with people. Factories are closing and business are leaving the United States. These are also troubling trends that also have an impact on local communities. These divergent views of globalism versus nationalism present a unique challenge for social work.
What resonates with Mr. Gates’ argument is it represents not only a global human economy but a global human ecology that requires homeostasis. By shifting funds from foreign to domestic interests we maybe “cutting our nose off despite our face”. As we continue to celebrate social work month I can help but continue to ponder Mr. Trump’s “America First” ideals.
Shifting funds from global communities to our local ones will hopefully help. Although I am a bit troubled that the proposed budget cuts a lot of community development block grants. Questions still remain about “America First”. What will this “cost” us globally? The pure global economic questions will be answered with trade deals. The implications of America First on the global human ecology will be unanswered. For instance Mr. Trump has placed an executive order barring foreign aid to groups that perform abortions. The ripple effects of this alone are projected to be quite large.
Much like Mr. Gates’ argument, human ecology matters to social work. This is (one of the many) strengths of our profession. The downstream effects of what happens from the federal, state, community, group, and individual levels is the hallmark of what we do. We need to continue to hold the government accountable to invest in our local communities health ecology but also not ignoring the costs on the global human ecology.