Several months ago, in a rare talk about politics with my mother, she said, “You know, they can find a way for Obama to serve a third term.” I couldn’t tell if she was trying to get me riled up or if there was something she knew that I didn’t. You can imagine my surprise, then, when I saw this headline earlier:
Of course, the article’s about the potential run by our esteemed Vice President. God help us all. But then, yesterday, I’d run by my parents’ house, only to get into another conversation with Mom about why I have the cameras covered on my phone. She thought my reason was as crazy as I thought her insistence was on the possibility of a third term for the current administration. She laughed in that typical, I’m-the-Mom-and-I-can-laugh-all-I-want manner and said, “Oh, Donna, you provide such fodder for our entertainment.” We laughed some more and then I told her I’d be forwarding her a few links on how easily the NSA can flip our phones and computers into camera mode. If only our concerns stopped there…
The Biden Plea
Vice President Joe Biden published an op ed this week on The Hill. He’s asking us to fork over $1 billion so that we can save Central America from itself. Here are the reasons he provides as to why we should cave on yet another waste of taxpayer money.
Mi Casa, Es Su Casa
Biden has a ridiculous justification for his efforts. He and his boss created a financial, legal, moral and societal crisis by opening the borders last summer, no questions asked, with a big “welcome home” declaration. Now they want us to fix it. Biden wants to prevent a repeat of last summer’s rush at our southern border, which brings to mind one simple explanation: 2016 election.
He explains, “The president and I are determined to address conditions in El Salvador, Guatemala and Honduras and help these countries on their path to economic prosperity.”
Here’s what he intends to do with our cool billion for these countries:
- Reform the police systems
- Expand community centers to “prevent migration”
- Put into place measures to reduce poverty
- Create opportunities for foreign investment
- Target smuggling networks
These are all noble and important reasons to justify support, but why are we suddenly going to fix this region of the world when some of our nation’s biggest problems center on those very issues? Shouldn’t we become the global example before we become the world’s bank? Before we “fix” these three nations, maybe we should first address them right here at home:
Reforming Policing Policies
Reforming police systems across the country is something that is very much in the political and societal spotlights these days. Whether it’s the Justice Department’s determinations that came together in a red-hot report that’s resulted in several resignations of city and county leaders in Ferguson or the ongoing cyber-attacks that are hitting Madison, Wisconsin in retaliation for the police shooting of an unarmed black teen last weekend, the unrest in many cities is palpable. Referring to the cyber-attacks, Paul Kronberger, Madison’s chief information officer, told Reuters today, “There is not a lot we can do about it. The people who do this kind of attack are very skilled.” A stronger budget could put the proper training in place so that city and state leaders can gain those skills that would translate into formidable moves against a determined hacker.
It’s not entirely clear as to what Biden believes community center expansions will do to prevent migration in the region, but some of the biggest budget hits in cities across the U.S. began with closing various community centers. Many remain closed today, years after the recession was declared a has-been.
Next Biden wants to reduce poverty in Central America. What he doesn’t mention is the poverty rate fell from 41.7% to 25.3% between 2000 and 2012. This, according to the United Nations Development Program, means more than 56 million people moved out of the grips of poverty during that period. The U.S. has nearly 50 million (and growing) who live in poverty and child poverty is one of the worst in the world. In fact, only five countries have higher poverty rates: Greece, Latvia, Spain, Israel and Mexico.
Let’s not forget Biden’s interest in increasing foreign investment for the region. In fact, let’s take a look at just one of the sanctions the U.S. has in place and how that country is now handling the absence of U.S. support (read: financial support). This provides much needed perspective against Biden’s financial investment goals for the countries and maybe a glimpse into how our image is being affected on a global stage:
This week, Obama used an executive order to sanction Venezuela due to its “acts of violence or abuse of human rights, were involved in prohibiting or penalizing freedom of expression, or were government officials involved in public corruption”. Of course, our government officials would never stoop that low to become involved in “public corruption” and as far as freedom of speech goes in the U.S., three words come to mind: National Security Administration (which, by the way, is now being sued).
A few months ago, in another “I’ll go it alone” move made by Obama, and after a year of “secret discussions”, efforts are being made to strengthen the ties between Cuba and the U.S. Five hours after the sanctions against Venezuela were announced this week, Cuba made it clear its loyalties are with Venezuela and not the U.S.
Finally, Biden wants to help rid and prevent smuggling networks from going into the region. That’s noble, but we’re hardly the example for border security. Illegal drugs are a billion dollar industry in the U.S. alone. In 2013, there were more than 30,000 arrests made along the southern border and all were attempting to cross the border with heroin, meth, cocaine and more; however, Mexican cartels are becoming even more violent, which jeopardizes the safety of our nation’s law enforcement. Couple that with the open borders and it’s clear that we’re woefully lacking in both budgets and tools to finally rein these cartels in.
Let’s take a look at what these countries have managed without the benefit of the U.S. and in Biden’s own words:
“Even before my recent visit, El Salvador, Guatemala and Honduras had quickly taken steps to start implementing the Alliance for Prosperity. Honduras signed an agreement with an international nongovernmental organization to increase governmental transparency. Guatemala has added new law enforcement officers and reassigned others to areas most in need, helping to reduce Guatemala’s murder rate by one-third. El Salvador passed a law providing new protections for investors.
If these countries are doing that well, maybe Biden could spend some time there and let them teach him a thing or two. Since that won’t happen, how about we keep our $1 billion and invest it in our own country. Let’s add new law enforcement on city, state and federal levels and take advantage of training opportunities so that our nation is safer. Homicide is increasing right here in the U.S., even as Guatemala’s rate has been cut and for the love of God, how about we find a way to make our own government more transparent?
If we have a billion dollar budget set aside for other countries, then surely, we have it for our own nation’s safety and economic growth.