Foreign assistance

THANKS TO The Tribune for highlighting the call of faith leaders to improve U.S. foreign assistance ("Clergy join fight against world poverty," April 2).

Our nation's foreign aid programs have dramatically improved the lives of millions, from increasing school enrollment for girls in Zambia to agricultural training for farmers in Nicaragua.

Though successful, these programs lack a consistent objective and are scattered across dozens of government offices. By streamlining our efforts and eliminating bureaucratic inefficiencies, we can do more to help people in the long term.

Sens. Barbara Boxer and Dianne Feinstein wholeheartedly signaled their support for foreign assistance programs by co-sponsoring an amendment that restored funding for them in the Senate budget. They deserve our public thanks and recognition.

We must do more and better to make progress against extreme poverty.

Reps. Barbara Lee and Lynn Woolsey can champion foreign aid reform as members of the House Foreign Affairs Committee. Speaker Nancy Pelosi can lead us to adopt a better foreign assistance system — with better coordination, better accountability and better clarity — so that the resources we already have do the most good.

Elizabeth Henry

Member, board of directors, Bread for the World

Oakland

My money

WE HAVE been wondering where the George W. Bush-Republicans vanished to. Judging by the cartoon in the Opinion section on April 5, some are cartoonists at the Buffalo News.

Three of the greatest deeds of the Democrats are shown as the largest of the overload in federal expenditures. They are Social Security and their adjuncts, Medicare and Medicaid.

The biggest expenditure of the government is made up of Iraq War and interest on the national debt. Social security and Medicare payments come close to this, but there is a big difference.

I paid into Social Security for almost 50 years. Now I am retired; it was my money going in, and it's my money coming out. The feds just managed it for me, correctly assuming that I was a lousy investor.

Gordon V. Oehser

Oakland

Support rights

I URGE people to write letters to President Barack Obama, urging him to support the Declaration of the Rights of Indigenous Peoples, which was adopted two years ago by the United Nations General Assembly in New York.

This declaration will recognize the rights of indigenous peoples to maintain their institutions, cultures and traditions. It also recognizes their identity, language, employment, health, education and other issues. Plus, it will prohibit discrimination against them and promoted their full and effective participation in matters that concern them.

During former President George W. Bush's tenure, the United States joined with Canada, Australia and New Zealand as the only four countries that voted against it.

Billy Trice Jr.

Oakland