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U.S. Aid for Ireland

March 23, 1986

Lord Bountiful ought to be ashamed of himself for calling Ireland a Third World country! President Reagan's request for $50 million for Ireland each year for the next five years is enough to make the blood of anti-poverty development workers and citizen activists boil.

Ireland's population is 3 million. Its per capita gross national product is $5,000 (compared to India at $260 and the United States at $14,110). Its infant mortality rate is 10 compared to 110 in India and 11 in the United States. The number of infant deaths per 1,000 live births, is widely regarded as an indicator of the state of health and well-being of the people in a country. Ireland at 10 is doing better than we at 11 and certainly better than India and any Third World country. In fact in some U.S. cities, swollen by unemployment, the rate has risen to 25. A shocking condition, but not surprising given the cuts in domestic poverty programs since 1981. Ireland's rate in comparison with India or any Third World country is ridiculous.

If you and I sit back and let Reagan's largess toward Ireland go through, it will be a tribute to unconsciousness and apathy. The loud emergency of Africa showed the compassion of the American people. The silent emergency of 7 million needless child deaths per year that could be stopped for a few dollars per child, needs to be brought squarely center front.

It is time to talk sense, or perhaps compassion in these days of Gramm-Rudman-Hollings, recisions and sequesters.

We have all been drawn into the chaos and confusion of the budget mess. Agog and mesmerized, we can not allow ourselves to remain. It's not that our government is broke. We simply have to choose where our tax dollars will go.

Reagan's paranoia for five years with the "enemy" has led us ever deeper into defense spending while we rob our schools, our health facilities, our cultural and civic institutions.

He continues to skew our foreign aid money away from development programs that provide clean drinking water, agriculture assistance, health care and education to the poorest and most destitute people in the world. He requests ever more of our foreign aid to go for loans and grants to foreign governments to buy U.S.-made military weapons and equipment.



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