Friday, May 29, 2015

We're not as generous as we like to think

I saw a poster on the internet about how much we provide in foreign aid (not the one shown here) compared to taking care of our own poor, veterans elderly, etc. Pure mythology. We just aren't that generous--at least in the area of foreign aid.

We provide very little aid, and much of it has strings attached. Some countries' medical aid, for instance, has strings attached tied to our attempt to change their social patterns--not using DDT or using contraception or not using contraception--or pressure to allow our military bases. Americans seriously overestimate, 1) percent of gays in the population, and 2) percent of our own generosity. Both figures are probably 2-3% at best, and maybe less, but Americans routinely will guesstimate 20-30%.

"The entire international affairs budget – which includes diplomacy and aid – is less than 2 percent of the federal budget. Poverty-focused development assistance is about half of that – for a grand total of 0.7 percent of the U.S. federal budget in Fiscal Year 2014. Americans vastly overestimate how much the U.S. spends on aid. Surveys report that, on average, Americans believe the U.S. spends as much as 30 percent of the federal bud­get on foreign aid, more than Social Security or Medicare." (The

On the other hand, we do take care of our own quite well--24% of the 2014 budget on social security, 24% in various health programs (Medicare, Medicaid, SCHIP), and 11% for "safety net" or almost 60% of our budget. Defense is only 18%--much smaller than our social assistance programs. There's a lot of waste and graft in that and it provides huge salaries along the way for the legions who are helping the needy, but it's a fact.

Myths about foreign aid

Percentages of federal tax dollars

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