Support People - Not Polities

Last Friday, Secretary of State Clinton stated that the United States has transferred two-hundred million dollars in aid to the state of Palestine, apparently in order to relieve that government's budget deficit. (See AP on Google.)

Two-hundred million dollars may seem like a lot of money, and it may seem that such a contribution would be a meaniful token of support for such a struggling nation. In my eyes, however, this action does absolutely nothing.

The government of Palestine is already in debt. Why would the largest debtor in the world - the United States - use its money to relieve another government's debt? It seems counterintuitive - unless our nation feels that we should work to assist other countries in being debt-free while pushing ourselves further and further into penury. Our gift, moreover, is not nearly enough to balance Palestine's budget. And what would be gained if they had one? - I know not. I doubt Palestine would function any better whether in surplus or deficit; the USA has certainly demonstrated that government can function under deficit and massive, incomprehensible debt. No problem!

There is an issue here though that is far more important. I believe that this action is little more than an easy way for our current administration to compensate for its failure to do more to give succor to the Palestinian people and find constructive methods for lessening conflict in the modern land of Canaan. There are far better ways to spend $200 million in support of Palestine. They aren't easy, but they'll go much farther towards achieving real progress.

The way to create progress is to spend money supporting people - not their governments. No matter how well meaning the Palestinian Authority may be these days, it is far more efficient for the United States to directly create opportunity and infrastructure for the reconstruction of a stable Palestine than for it to simply funnel money into a government account already leaking from debt and clearly not in a position to better its country in the ways that others are able.

Think of it this way: Would you have given money to FEMA in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina? Instead, people here and abroad gave to independent charities, and many went to affected areas and contributed personally - as my father, brother and I did in southern Mississippi. The Palstinian government can only do so much to raise its country out of its many many problems - as could our own in times of crisis, though clearly on a much more impermanent and much less total national scale. Even if U.S. money simply wired to Palestine went directly to that government's programs for its people, (which I guarantee it will not), our country can do far more by contributing directly to the Palestinian people.

Think of it - what if our country put more funding into international aid programs doing work in Palestine? What if we provided food for those who need it so much? What if we supported new jobs in the territory's fledgling econmic growth spurt? What if instead of taking the easy way out by punching numbers into an indebted government's account, we actually helped people, and not their polity. Then there would be progress.