Any society that would give up a little liberty to gain a little security will deserve neither, and lose both.
-- Benjamin Franklin

Tusnami Aid

Apparently reacting to criticism about being stingy, the US goverment is now pledging 350 million dollars in aid for the tsunami release.

That’s approximately 1/4 of 1 percent of the money we have already spent to destroy (oops, “liberate”) Iraq.

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Unfortunately, this is fairly typical. Although it’s a testament to the American people that they frequently give 3 times as much in aid as the U.S. government, that aid is much more sporadic and difficult to track, control, and allocate properly.

The U.S. gives, at present, around .13% of its GDP as aid; while most industrialized countries fall short of the .7% recommended by [reference omitted because I'm too lazy to look it up - it's a U.N.-affiliated aid committee], countries like Japan and Sweden are around 1%, with plenty of smaller nations around .5% – .7%.

Contrast this with the average American who, when polled, believe we spend 20% but that it should be lowered to around 10% (courtesy, I believe, of the Chicago Council on Foreign Relations). 10% would be wonderful; too bad it ain’t gonna happen. I pray for 1%, but that ain’t gonna happen for at least 4 years, if that (Democratic presidents aren’t much better than Republicans, if at all).

Combine the stingy "official" face of the U.S. with the aggressive and spendthrifty face of the U.S. military, and you get, even if you’re strictly speaking in self-interest, a big national security problem: image. We’re aggressive bullies who give little back to the world.

I would just so much like to be the country we delude ourselves into thinking we are…

Could I be reading this comment wrong?

Do you mean that the US Government distrubutes .13% of the US GDP as aid, or the American people as a whole…

If the former point is true, then how does the private funding for aid factor in re: total GDP… as the source of that funding would also be factored into our GDP.

Just looking for some clarification as to what the numbers mean.

Interesting question, and I don’t know the answer. Perhaps **erk** can contribute some details.

More importantly, we must be sure to compare apples to apples – we have no way to determine the private donations from other countries that I know of. I doubt the private relief organizations keep track, or publicize such a breakdown.

It would also be hard to quantify. How do you count the blankets I donated to AFSC for Afghan relief?

It __is__ relatively easy to quantify government donations, and to a large extent, this is what the world sees.

CNN Reports:
\Norway announced plans Monday to raise its pledge from $16 million to about $180 million — an 11-fold increase that would make its contribution the single largest per capita pledge of any nation by a wide margin.

With a population of a little more than 4.5 million, Norway’s pledge would come out to approximately $39.50 per citizen. The U.S. pledge of $350 million comes out to $1.19 per person.\

In all fairness, I suppose, Norway hasn’t destroyed it’s economy by spending in excess of $500 per citizen prosecuting an illegal, immoral, and unjust war.

I take your point regarding the blankets, etc. However, they (non-capital goods donated) are factored into the GDP at sometime.

This is basically what I was getting at. It’d be easier to figure out what total of the GDP of the US goes towards foreign aid if there was some accounting for real value of durable goods donated.

Do you write off such donations? If so, that would be a good start.

The U.S. government contributes around 0.13% (recently upped from 0.11% or so). Private U.S. citizens, on average, donate about 3 times that amount. However, private giving tends to be much more based on trends and the occasional press for specific issues (like the tsunami, which certainly warrants it). Government giving is more predictable and thus, for aid groups, has a slightly lower management overhead.

But the comparisons between the U.S. and other countries’ governments is still dismal; Japan’s government gives close to 1% of their GDP, and I don’t know what their private donations are. So that 0.13% is still comparing apples with apples, and even with private donations, the .52% total is sorry for a major power.

In the interests of completely wearing out my welcome, I’ll point you to my blog entry about U.S. aid. I think my previous posting of 0.13% is wrong; while it was 0.14% in 2003, I think it might be slightly higher in 2004. Have to dig up the link where I found that…

Anyway:

Hmmm. The link didn’t post. One more try: The Scrooge of the Western World.



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