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5 random things we spend our money on that make global aid look like pocket change.

$2 billion actually isn't that much when you put it in perspective.

5 random things we spend our money on that make global aid look like pocket change.
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Gates Foundation: The Story of Food

The amount we all spent on airline baggage fees last year is more than the amount needed to save the lives of 2 million little kids.

Isn't that pretty wild to think about?  

Together we spent $3.1 billion on baggage fees in 2016 — on top of our actual tickets — so that U.S.-based airlines could transport our crap (what an industry!). That's a billion more dollars than what's needed to stay on track with our global nutrition targets.  


If governments, organizations, and donors around the world spent an additional $2 billion annually over the next 10 years, we could save 2.2 million lives — and reduce stunting in 50 million children. 50 MILLION children!

Image via iStock.

Right now, malnutrition is killing 3 million children a year, contributing to 45% of all deaths of kids under 5, and costing our world billions of dollars in lost productivity.

Did I mention it's completely preventable?

In 2012, the World Health Assembly (WHA), composed of 194 member states, endorsed its first-ever plan to drastically improve nutrition in children in developing countries by 2025. They are focusing on six main targets: stunting, exclusive breastfeeding, wasting, anemia, low birthweight, and overweight. It's smart and awesome.

What's not awesome, though, is that they're not on track to hit any of those nutrition goals. Country governments and donors are spending $3.9 billion total on nutrition-specific programs, according to the World Bank. But that's not enough to close the gap and stay on track. If they were to come together and spend an additional $2.2 billion, they could get back on it.

Now, $2 billion a year sounds like quite a bit of money — until you put some things into perspective.

Here are five random expenditures that show why investing $2.2 billion in our future generations should be a no-brainer:

1. Americans spent close to a billion dollars on UNUSED gift cards in 2015.

Image via iStock.

More specifically, that's $973 million that's just sort-of ... THERE. It's just hanging out in a digital retail cloud somewhere, waiting to be used on apparel or appliances that, ironically, may actually remain unused.

2. Even more staggering: Americans spent $119 billion on gambling losses in 2013.

Image via iStock.

Not wins. Not even break-evens. LOSSES. I mean, if we could somehow pool just a fraction of that to create the most charitable pot the world has ever seen, wouldn't that be a win-win for everyone?

3. We're apparently a thirsty country — Americans spend $105.9 billion a year on beer.

Image via iStock.

Granted, there's no denying that people love their beer. But what if, like, instead of buying the usual "one for the road," we turned the equivalent into "one for a good cause"?

4. Americans spend over $10 billion on credit card late fees.

Image via iStock.

Yes, it can be cool to be fashionably late. But it's probably not $10 billion cool.

5. Americans spend over $42 billion at dollar stores.

Image via iStock.

If anything, this puts the whole "What if everyone just gave a dollar to help out?" argument in perspective.

Obviously, it's not the same to compare what Americans spent at dollar stores to what governments spend on nutrition programs in developing countries.

But it does help paint a clear picture of how much progress we can make in the world with relatively small amounts of funding.

Image via iStock.

Americans think we spend an average of 26% of our U.S. budget on foreign assistance. But that number is actually less than 1%.

People have varying thoughts on the United States' role in foreign aid, but many times it's because they overestimate what we're actually contributing. When you think about it, investments in nutrition are so minimal, it's almost mind-boggling. Only about 1% percent of the U.S. budget goes to global programs that save lives (and the same is true for many countries). And these programs eventually actually save money because of increased global productivity and fewer health care costs.

Even spending less than 1% of our nearly $4 trillion federal budget, we've done so much good.

We've helped over 8 million people receive life-saving HIV treatment, reached 1 billion people with agricultural programs in the past 20 years, reduced death caused by malaria in children by 51% and reduced maternal mortality by over 50% worldwide. That all helps to keep the world healthier and our country safer. And those figures barely even scrape the surface of our progress.

Imagine if the U.S. stepped up to prioritize nutrition and invested just a little bit more. Our future could look a whole lot different.

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As part of its promise for a brighter world, Dole is partnering with Bye Bye Plastic Bags's efforts to bring sunshine to all.

Visit www.sunshineforall.com to learn more.

Who would have thought that giving the world access to all human knowledge via the internet, the ability to follow and hear from experts on any subject via social media, and the ability to see what's happening anywhere in the world via smartphones with cameras would result in a terrifying percentage of the population believing and spouting nothing but falsehoods day in and day out?

Those of us who value facts, reason, and rational thought have found ourselves at some of our fellow citizens and thinking, "Really? THIS is how you choose to use the greatest tool humanity has ever created? To spew unfounded conspiracy theories?"

It's a marvel, truly.

Between Coronavirus/Bill Gates/5G conspiracies and QAnon/Evil Cabal/Pedophile conspiracies, I thought we were pretty much full up on kooky for 2020. But apparently not. The massive fires up and down the West Coast have ignited even more conspiracy theories, some of which local law enforcement and even the FBI have had to debunk.

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In 1945, the world had just endured the bloodiest war in history. World leaders were determined to not repeat the mistakes of the past. They wanted to build a better future, one free from the "scourge of war" so they signed the UN Charter — creating a global organization of nations that could deter and repel aggressors, mediate conflicts and broker armistices, and ensure collective progress.

Over the following 75 years, the UN played an essential role in preventing, mitigating or resolving conflicts all over the world. It faced new challenges and new threats — including the spread of nuclear weapons and other weapons of mass destruction, a Cold War and brutal civil wars, transnational terrorism and genocides. Today, the UN faces new tensions: shifting and more hostile geopolitics, digital weaponization, a global pandemic, and more.

This slideshow shows how the UN has worked to build peace and security around the world:

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Malians wait in line at a free clinic run by the UN Multidimensional Integrated Mission in Mali in 2014. Over their 75 year history, UN peacekeepers have deployed around the world in military and nonmilitary roles as they work towards human security and peace. Here's a look back at their history.

Photo credit: UN Photo/Marco Dormino

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