Setting Priorities (Archived)

On February 2, 1998, the US government announced the first federal budget surplus with no deficits since Neil Armstrong, the first man to land on the moon, set his feet and his country’s flag on the moon thirty years ago.


The surplus is expected to reach $5.9 billion in 1999 and will grow to $5.258 billion in 2008.


Moreover, the country’s revenues will roughly reach $1.21trillion during the next 10 years, while expenditures will amount to $20 trillion, totaling $1.1 trillion in excess income ($1100 billion during the next 10 years) which is much better than the former US administration’s estimates.


The federal government of the United States made a proposal to the Congress to increase the public spending by 4% and use this additional income to employ 100,000 new teachers, increase the aids given to children’s programs, support scientific research, and most importantly save and protect social security.


Despite these revenues and surplus in the budget, the US administration did not delay or ignore the continuous campaign against tobacco companies for the obligatory return of some of their blood money to the American society.


And even though the American Congress hasn’t yet approved the proposed agreement, which would obligate tobacco companies to pay $5.368 billion to the US government within 25 years, the US administration is planning on forcing tobacco companies to pay $5.65 billion towards the total federal budget during the next 5 years to be spent as follows:

·         All states receive the sum of $2.1 billion this year and $5.7 billion over five years to go to children’s development and education funds.

·          All states receive $1.1 billion this year and $3.7 billion over five years to employ 100,000 (one thousand) teachers and reduce the size of elementary classrooms in order to provide all elementary students with better individual attention and care.

·         Allocate $900 million over five years to provide education for children living in poverty.

·         The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) receives $2.1 billion over five years.

·         The National Institutes of Health (NIH) receive more than $25 billion to spend on scientific research during the next 5 years.

·         The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) receive $400 million over five years to fight smoking (paid by tobacco companies), $800 million for cancer and medical research and treatment, as well as $3.22 billion of tobacco companies revenues over five years to each state to spend as seen appropriate to fight smoking and help tobacco growers forgo tobacco growing (if applicable).


We reiterate that everything previously mentioned in the article will be paid by tobacco companies during the next five years to the US Treasury, contributing to the budget of the strongest and wealthiest country in the world, while most of these companies’ revenues come from selling tobacco to countries of the third world.


The US administration was able to link programs that target children, education, health and research to the money that tobacco companies will be forced to pay, which will guarantee getting enough votes at the Congress when weighing these programs versus the interests of tobacco companies – a wise and important strategy on the government’s behalf to set priorities and prefer society’s interests, as well as spending on long-term programs that don’t exploit the national revenues on consumption.


God has provided us with clear ways of life on earth; they determine bestowal as much as they are followed “To each category We extend – to these and to those – from the gift of your Lord. And never has the gift of your Lord been restricted.” (The Quran17:20). Advice, sincerity, justice, complete and comprehensive understanding of society’s nature and needs – immediate and future – in addition to having the right man in the right place are some of the factors that lead to a successful choice of the right methods that lead to the desired results.


“Wisdom is the believer’s pursuit, wherever it is found he takes it.”



OKAZ Newspaper – Tuesday 13 Shawwal 1418 AH falling on 10 February 1998 AD