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Vexen Crabtree 2015

vexen

Vexen Crabtree's Live Journal

Sociology, Theology, Anti-Religion and Exploration: Forcing Humanity Forwards


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Vexen Crabtree 2015
vexen

Lunchtime politics...

A new page to my "Why do people hate the USA?" site... following is brief excerpt of the main criticism:

Foreign Aid: USA is stingiest of the 22 most developed countries</a>
The USA claims to be, in absolute terms, the world's biggest giver and this is true. However, as a proportion of it's wealth the USA gives least when compared to all 22 of the worlds' most developed countries.

"[Americans] are regularly told by politicians and the media, that America is the world's most generous nation. This is one of the most conventional pieces of 'knowledgable ignorance'. [...For example Japan gives more even in absolute terms...]

Absolute figures are less significant than the proportion of gross domestic product (GDP, or national wealth) that a country devotes to foreign aid. On that league table, the US ranks twenty-second of the 22 most developed nations. As former President Jimmy Carter commented: 'We are the stingiest nation of all'. Denmark is top of the table, giving 1.01% of GDP, while the US manages just 0.1%. The United Nations has long established the target of 0.7% GDP for development assistance, although only four countries actually achieve this: Denmark, 1.01%; Norway, 0.91%; the Netherlands, 0.79%; Sweden, 0.7%. Apart from being the least generous nation, the US is highly selective in who receives its aid. Over 50% of its aid budget is spent on middle-income countries in the Middle East, with Israel being the recipient of the largest single share."

"Why do people hate America?" by Ziauddin Sardar and Merryl Wyn Davies, 2002. p79

Not only that, but according to one source cited by Sarder & Davies, 80% of that aid itself actually goes to American companies in those foreign countries.

Full page:

  • http://www.vexen.co.uk/USA/foreign_aid.html
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    You also left out other forms of Aid

    (Anonymous)
    Do you have any idea how much money is pumped into economys of countries by the presense of the US military alone? The hundreds of thousands of troops AND their families makes one hell of an impact on the local and national ecomony. Ask the Germans if they think the US pulling their troops out will have an impact. Why didn't you consider these other forms of aid we give? Does Japan and all the Scandanavian countries have troops in other countries pumping in billions of dollars into those ecomonys? How much is a human life worth? Do we get to count all of our war dead as foreign aid? Why did you compare aid given as a percentage of the GNP instead of the actual number? Looking to support an opinion you already had?

    Re: You also left out other forms of Aid

    I compared GNP values because I was measuring generosity, not wealth. It is clear if I measure wealth, USA wins by far. Measuring giving as a proportion of income, though, is an indication of worldly-minded charity.

    The USA military are not in foreign countries with the aim of indirectly supporting charitable goals; it is not a military aim and is not part of what would constitute good military thinking to place camps according to such frivolous factors. Largely USA military camps are on annexed soil or are subsidized by deals with local governments (which historically have themselves been tyrannical - about as far from a charitable contribution as you can get).

    Germany hardly needs charitable USA aid, I hardly consider the USAs base there (or the UKs extensive bases in Germany) to be charitable exercises.

    Re: You also left out other forms of Aid

    Yet listen to the howls of outrage from Germany when the U.S. suggested cutting back on its military presence there. It was almost amusing in its irony.

    However, latching onto statistics that help "prove" your point is, at least here, petitio principii. You're not arguing that the U.S. is somehow less generous -- you're arguing that you believe the U.s. has failed some imaginary "percentages game." The anon above is completely right, if somewhat rude -- " Absolute figures are less significant than the proportion of gross domestic product (GDP, or national wealth) that a country devotes to foreign aid" demonstrates nothing except a judgment call on your (and those you cite) part. Ultimately it's simply a philosophical issue, and one that, if it were to be subjected to real-world tests, would hardly stand up when offering a recipient a choice. For all intents and purposes, the absolute figures matter quite a bit more by any criteria that count, i.e. the effect on those benefitting from said aid. Furthermore, the "percentages" conceal far more than they reveal...the Europeans actually suffer from greater moral ambiguity when one considers how much of their aid goes to countries and societies they themselves ravaged through colonization. Questionable U.S. foreign policy decisions in other countries -- Saudia Arabia, Iraq, South-East Asia, Iran, Nicaragua, et cetera, especially during the Cold War -- pale considerably compared to what many European countries did during their colonization phases.

    Re: You also left out other forms of Aid

    In the past, colonial powers were monsters.

    But in the present, the USA is the least generous nation.

    No amount of moaning over the use of stats will change the actual truth, and no amount of pointing out that USA absolute wealth is much higher will change it either; in terms of how much of their income is given away, the USA is disproportionately and indefensibly stingy.

    Re: You also left out other forms of Aid

    Not indefensible, I think. You do fail to account for the fact that the sum total of U.S. aid -- from private and governmental sources -- is considerably higher (absolutely and percentage-wise) than most countries, as a little clicking about your links will attest. The U.s.'s economic structure tends to maximize private aid at the expense of governmental, a fundamental aspect of a highly-capitalistic representative democracy.

    Furthermore, when France gives X dollars to Algiers or Britain to India, we're not looking at some sort of charitable largesse so much as said countries covering their asses and their pasts, and supporting their investments in their former colonies.

    And the "actual truth" is not in the least self-evident. One could just as easily point out that you're the one moaning over the stats -- the money itself has an absolute (well, varying depending on economic conditions, but that's beside the point) value. The stats are just that -- numbers. It's all very heartwarming when a poor child gives his last dollar to buy a hungry homeless man some soup...but it's the millionare who contributes 100,000 dollars to help build a soup kitchen that has actually done real and lasting good.

    Re: You also left out other forms of Aid

    Yes, money has absolute value, and if the point of the exercise was to determine who was the richest country, USA would win hands down. But the point was to determine generosity; to do that the absolute value is meaningless.

    A poor man who gives #100 to charity is obviously more generous than a rich man who gives the same. Go figure.

    Hopefully I do note there, or nearby, that USA individuals are (like any other human) driven by compassion to give; I think frequently they do not understand the inner workings of the charities to which they give.

    Re: You also left out other forms of Aid

    (Anonymous)
    Coming late to the game, but I hope this contribution makes it worth the wait.

    The main reason the U.S. is criticized by these organizations is Power: we don't give them as much of our money to control as they would like.

    They love us if we give directly to them to fund their programs, but get pissy when we choose to administer programs ourselves. Talk about altruism. Ha!

    To be fair, the measure of a nation's "generosity" should include more than a budget line item or two or three. It should include defense, loans, trade programs, business programs, private charities, private giving, as well as contributions to the U.N., our own foreign aid programs, immigration programs, welfare, etc., etc., etc.

    Please don't forget that "tax benefit;" that is a form of governmental giving, too.

    If you don't do much giving yourself, you may imagine the individual charitable tax benefit to be vastly greater than it actually is. If you give enough of your income to be bumped into a lower tax bracket, then you are generous indeed!

    There is no hope of accessing actual altruism in any giving. Only God knows, and he's not telling, though he would probably happily calc the tax benefit, if it would make the charitable dollar go a little farther.

    Re: You also left out other forms of Aid

    (Anonymous)
    re: disproportionately stingy.

    Maybe this has been done to death already; I haven't read the rest of the discussion.

    I just did a quick calculation on US public PLUS private giving, and it comes out around .5% of GDP, up there with the MOST generous of the European countries, ASSUMING that they give a noticeable amount privately on top of the government aid (some don't). Link with graphics here:
    http://shenzhenpeople.com/ipw-web/b2/index.php?m=200501#209

    I think you're wrong, but as I said, I haven't read the whole thread for other qualifiers. By the way, Vexen, I've just begun reading your site and enjoying it. Legitimate, reasoned criticisms are much easier to digest than constant breathless hyperbole.

    Hmm. I see I'm anonymous. My name is Sam, and I'm in Shenzhen, China

    Re: You also left out other forms of Aid

    (Anonymous)
    Whoever undertakes to set himself up as a judge of Truth and Knowledge is shipwrecked by the laughter of the gods. ---Edmund Burke

    Re: You also left out other forms of Aid

    (Anonymous)
    Every country does what is in it's own best interest. It's human nature, and the USA is no different from any other nation in that. The USA has done a lot of good things and a lot of bad things, like most other nations worth noting.

    But it seems that the USA attracts more than it's share of hatred. More hated in fact than China or Russia, two countries guilty of the absolute slaughter of millions upon millions of their own citizens--and recently. More hated than Germany, a country that just a few decades ago started the nuclear weapons race and invented mass extermination of human beings.

    The list goes on and on: N. Korea, Japan, Cambodia, Rwanda, Zimbabwe....

    So why do people look right past all of these and single out the USA for hatred? It can't be the bad things the USA has done. They aren't even close to what these countries have done and are still doing in many cases.

    And instead of getting on your knees and thanking God that the remaining superpower is the USA and not the USSR, you wax eloquent about how sophisticated your jealousy has become.

    The USA has done good and bad things. The bad isn't nearly as many other countries, while the good often put the USA in a class by themselves. It's funny that people who hate the USA always find ulterior motives in the good things done. Amplify the bad out of proportion and dismiss the good--what a dark deception you live under.

    Enjoy your freedom to express your hate for us. We gave that to you too.




    Re: You also left out other forms of Aid

    (Anonymous)
    You're kidding, right? You want to talk about charity? If so, then monetary value is way down the list unless you are nothing more than a money hungry, greedy, and envious person. Let's talk about charity, and what it really means. Charity is a spiritual word at it's root meaning "love." I would "love" to know who is on the top of the list for lives lost for "some country other than it's own?" Given the fact that we have fought two wars in the US (Revolution and Civil War). All other wars have been on foreign soil, and for someone else. I can't help but shake my head at some of these posts, and wonder what these people are thinking? Are you educated? Have you been to school? Any school at any level? Good grief, man/woman, you talk about "charity," and the lack thereof with the US? You must be out of your mind. You are probably one of those who think we went into Iraq for the oil? Since you're pretty good with statistics, how much oil do we get from Iraq? If it were up to me, I'd would require that the oil be sold to the US at a reasonable price, and use it to pay for the rebuilding of Iraq.

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