I can’t make it through a day without hearing about the jobs crisis. I hear it from my father, because how could anyone majoring in international studies make it in this job market? I hear it from my accounting professor at UC San Diego, who shamelessly attempts to convert us all into accountants willing to work ridiculous hours for somewhat decent pay. And I hear it from the news, telling us it's among the worst unemployment crises we've had.
But we've already done everything we can: Interest rates are near zero and the government has tried various stimulus programs as well as provided unemployment benefits for those who are desperately searching, only to find a dried-up job pool. So what else is there to do?
Two words: international aid. I know you might thinking, “What does this college student know about the job market? Obviously not very much if she is asking us to spend more.”
But surprisingly enough, spending is exactly what the government does to get us out of monetary crises such as this. When we go into a recession, people become wary about spending money and they save it, which diminishes the amount of money in circulation, reducing our GDP, and we spiral even deeper into recession. So the government spends to stimulate the economy. But we've already spent so much on creating jobs and increasing unemployment benefits, and Americans are still struggling. Now the best way to spend our money is to try to alleviate poverty abroad.
Many polls show that Americans think about 28% of the U.S. budget goes to international aid, when in reality about 1% of the budget does -- pocket change for the government. We should help thousands of people who are living on less than a dollar a day not only because we can but because there are also some resounding benefits. The first is an increased economy abroad. The more help we offer these developing countries, the more we increase their buying power, which increases our ability to sell abroad, and that adds jobs to the U.S. market. Since about 45% of our exports already go to these developing countries, according to the Center for Global Development, there's no doubt we would see an appealing return, not just now but in the future. According to the United States International Trade Commission, 10 of the 15 largest importers of American goods and services graduated from U.S. foreign aid programs.
This includes countries such as South Korea and Taiwan. The countries we need to add to this list are in Africa.
China has already thrown major sums of money at African nations. It has invested almost $75 billion in developing nations there in the last decade and is, in turn, seeking friendly political relations as well as the ability to tap into rich natural resources, such as oil.
America needs to get in the game. We need to help these people because we have a moral obligation to do so. But we also need to help because the benefits go beyond being a Good Samaritan. Grant Pattison, who recently resigned as CEO of South African retailer Massmart, says that "the global economy has gotten so bad that there's a realization that with South America, India and Asia tapped … there's only one large billion-sized population left in the world, and that is Africa." By giving international aid, we increase the middle class in Africa and therefore increase our economy, create jobs at home and form political alliances.
We find an innovative way to improve conditions in the U.S. while moving toward a goal of defeating poverty. We improve the job market, so that kids like me can be motivated to go to college and study what we love. We create a cure for unemployment.
Jessica Folsom is an international studies major at UC San Diego and an intern at the Borgen Project.