JOHN DERBYSHIRE: Billions For The Taliban, Billions For Ukraine, And Billions For Illegals... But NO Billions For Immigration Enforcement
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[Adapted from the latest Radio Derb, now available exclusively on]

I’ve written two columns about the late Calvin Coolidge this month (here and here) in honor of the 100th anniversary of him being sworn in as President. Engaging with the thirtieth President again these few days, I’ve been particularly impressed by his thrift. Public thrift, that is: Every year Coolidge was in office the federal budget shrank, so that when he left the White House in 1929 it was lower by almost a third than when he’d taken office—a very unusual thing with American Presidents.

Contrast that with today, when the federal government is hosing money around as if it could just print as much as it wants to—which of course it can.

Is it money well spent? I wish I could think so. Washington Post, Thursday last week, headline: Biden asks for $20.6 billion for Ukraine as counteroffensive sputters [by Jeff Stein and Marianna Sotomayor, August 10, 2023].

Will that money be well spent in what, when hostilities started, I referred to as ”the war between the world’s two most corrupt white nations”?

In reference to that I should say that Ukraine is looking a tad better corruption-wise than it was a year and a half ago. I just checked the latest rankings on Transparency International’s Corruption Perceptions Index. On the 2022 figures, Ukraine ranks 116 out of 180, in between The Philippines and Zambia. Russia meanwhile is still stuck down at 137, between Paraguay and Kyrgyzstan. (The U.S.A., people always want to know? We ranked 24, between the Seychelles and Bhutan.)

That’s not the most bizarre thing I’ve read this week on federal spending, though—not by a long way. Here is the easy winner.

By way of preface, let me remind you about SIGAR. That stands for Special Inspector General for Afghanistan Reconstruction, an agency of the federal government created in 2008 by George W. Bush to oversee our reconstruction efforts in Afghanistan.

So… after we cut and ran from Afghanistan two years ago, SIGAR was disbanded, right? Saving the feds a lot of unnecessary expenditure, right?

Wrong! SIGAR is still with us; its website is still up and running; and it’s still issuing reports.

Matter of fact it issued a report on Tuesday this week.

 Executive summary from the actual report:

This report summarizes SIGAR’s oversight work and updates developments in U.S. assistance and reconstruction efforts in Afghanistan from April 1st to June 30, 2023.
[SIGAR Quarterly Report To Congress, July 30, 2023]

The report tells us that since our undignified exit from Afghanistan in 2021 the federal government, through Congress of course, has appropriated over $2.35 billion in funds for Afghanistan reconstruction and humanitarian efforts.

The Biden administration has in fact been, according to the Daily Caller, the single largest donor of taxpayer money to Taliban-controlled Afghanistan since the U.S. evacuated forces.

And these lavish public spending policies have of course an immigration dimension. That is true even down at the state level, although immigration is supposed to be a federal responsibility. Here’s a headline from the Boston Herald: Massachusetts spending $45M a month on programs for migrants, displaced families, Healey says [by Chris Van Buskirk, August 8, 2023].

Governor Healey is of course begging the feds for financial assistance, so chances are this will come out of our federal taxes eventually, one way or another.

What happened to the principle that foreigners coming into the U.S.A. for settlement have to prove they are self-supporting? Oh for goodness’ sake, Derb, don’t be so old-fashioned. That kind of thinking went out with buttoned boots.

And the Massachusetts number is peanuts compared to what New York City is begging for. Just the city, mind; not much awareness has yet seeped up to the state government in Albany.

New York City Mayor Eric Adams told us on Wednesday that the cost of housing and caring for illegal aliens in the city will be twelve billion dollars over the next three years.

Twelve billion! That’s more than we’ll spend supporting the Taliban! Although not as much as we’ll give to Ukraine.

That sound you hear in the background, like rrrrrrr? That’s the U.S. Treasury printing presses working 24/7 at full speed.

There are, however, no billions for either border security or deportations, two federal programs that would, in fact, pay for themselves.

John Derbyshire [email him] writes an incredible amount on all sorts of subjects for all kinds of outlets. (This no longer includes National Review, whose editors had some kind of tantrum and fired him.) He is the author of We Are Doomed: Reclaiming Conservative Pessimism and several other books. He has had two books published by com: FROM THE DISSIDENT RIGHT (also available in Kindle) and FROM THE DISSIDENT RIGHT II: ESSAYS 2013.

For years he’s been podcasting at Radio Derb, now available at for no charge. His writings are archived at

Readers who wish to donate (tax deductible) funds specifically earmarked for John Derbyshire’s writings at can do so here.

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