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What America Owes The World...

 
 
Reply Thu 19 Feb, 2004 05:12 pm
Interesting fact: According to a poll conducted by the University of Maryland, most Americans think we give 25% of the budget to foreign aid. The real figure is about 250 times less. A slight discrepancy, no?

The debate over how much foreign aid the United States should give - how much and if we "owe the world," in the words of one poster - represents a fundamental divide between Conservative and Liberal thought. Although we have no real obligation to help, I would submit that we have a ethical obligation to do so.

In reality we give only .1% percent of GNP to foreign aid. The generally agreed upon goal for industrialized nations is about .7%. In fact, the United States dedicates a lower percentage to foreign aid than any other industrialized nation on Earth. We give only about 10.9 billion dollars a year. To put this in perspective, the Netherlands, a relatively small nation with only about 5 million people, gives 3.2 billion - almost a third of what America contributes. We can find 87 billion to fight a war, but its nearly impossible to muster up 1 billion to fight AID's.

While we Americans harp about our own poor - which are a legitimate issue as well - 2 billion people around the world live in poverty everyday of their life, trapped in chronic malnourishment. Three billion live on less than two dollars a day. In Africa 2.3 million die every year of Aids; the infection rate continues to increase; the numbers of infected approaching 40% in some countries. This is simply unacceptable.

Some contend that the United States owes the world nothing. They say we are a benevolent and generous super-power. What we give, we give freely. We deserve more recognition and thankfulness. Africa should do more for itself. The world's unhappiness is its own fault.

I think that stance is retarded. When shaved to the bone, this philosophy is based on the premise that America is somehow entitled to its wealth - that we are prosperous because we are better, more ingenuitive, our ideas are superior. In reality, most of our prosperity is rooted in circumstances beyond our control (i.e. - the domesticability of plants and animals in the Fertile Crescent several thousand years ago), and Western civilizations willingness and skill in applying organized violence. We are no more entitled to our wealth than anybody else on this planet. That, I think, is the crux of the debate.

I would make an analogy: America is a man sitting at a grand table with a legendary feast arrayed before him. He is eating voraciously, and wasting incessantly. All around him, grouped under the table and on the sides, is a group of 23 other people. They are malnourished, living in abject poverty, uneducated, unemployed, many are dying of various ailments - Aids, TB, and Malaria. But, the man at the table doesn't feel obligated to feed them. The very idea is preposterous to him. Even though the man didn't gain his wealth through hard work, superior ingenuity, or some inherent goodness, he feels entitled. So, now and then, to boost his ego and keep his conscience intact, he tosses a few crumbs to the masses (about .1% of the feast, to be exact.) This is sufficient to convince himself that he is righteous, benevolent, altruistic.

The bottom line is that there is something fundamentally wrong with the world, and we are guilty in our insouciance. We give pathetically little. What we do give often comes with strings attached - destroying the illusion of altruism. The fact that we toss a few crumbs to the rabble does not make us good. When you are wastefully enjoying a feast of the magnitude that America is, tossing a few crumbs to the masses doesn't make you benevolent, it makes you a monster.
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Type: Discussion • Score: 2 • Views: 12,056 • Replies: 179
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georgeob1
 
  1  
Reply Thu 19 Feb, 2004 06:56 pm
Nice speech. Exactly what do you propose we do? How much and to whom? Would you distribute the aid through governments (such as that in Zimbabwe) or directly to individuals? In what form would you give this aid? Cash? Commodities? What side effects do you anticipate?

Some of your "facts" are deficient. If cash transfers from individuals are included (i.e. money sent home by workers here to relatives in Mecico, Central America, Bangladesh and many other countries; plus that from large American private foundations) then our giving (public plus private) is about equal to that of European nations.

An implicit assumption in your idea is that the wealth of the world is a fixed sum and we presumably have an excess share. All that we have learned about economics suggest the opposite is true. Poverty is the result of the deficient organization of economic activity.
0 Replies
 
IronLionZion
 
  1  
Reply Fri 20 Feb, 2004 12:51 am
georgeob1 wrote:
Nice speech. Exactly what do you propose we do? How much and to whom? Would you distribute the aid through governments (such as that in Zimbabwe) or directly to individuals? In what form would you give this aid? Cash? Commodities? What side effects do you anticipate?


You seem to be implying that there is no practical way to increase our foriegn aid effectively. I think this is kind of retarded. Granted, I do not have a comprehensive plan for exactly how much should be given and exactly how it should be distributed, but that does not take away from my point: the current situation is ethically unacceptable and increased aid would help to alleviate this without overburdening America, therefore, it is an ethical obligation.

For starters, more money could be distributed though the hundreds of existing channels/programs which are strapped for cash. Also, there are many obvious ways money and/or legal changes could be directed. For example, we could implement World Trade Organization agreements that allow developing countries to import cheaper generic drugs, as Canada has already done. We could forgive some debts. I would tentativly place the target at about 1% of GNP - a far cry from the miniscule .1% we currently give.

Even in cases like Zimbabwe, where there is a dubious political structure and many other hurdles, grassroots efforts, like say, drilling wells amd AIDs awareness are possibilities.

The fact is - and I do not use the word lightly when I say this - that there is no shortage of causes desparate for funding in the developing world. If your argument against an increase in American foriegn aid is based on the supposed impracticality of such a proposal, you are standing on pretty fickle ground.

Quote:
Some of your "facts" are deficient. If cash transfers from individuals are included (i.e. money sent home by workers here to relatives in Mecico, Central America, Bangladesh and many other countries; plus that from large American private foundations) then our giving (public plus private) is about equal to that of European nations.


This is actually irrelevent, since both Europe and America could do more. However, I would like to see a source on this.

Quote:
An implicit assumption in your idea is that the wealth of the world is a fixed sum and we presumably have an excess share. All that we have learned about economics suggest the opposite is true. Poverty is the result of the deficient organization of economic activity.


No, the "idea that wealth of the world is a fixed sum" is not neccessary to come to my conclusion. Broken down to its most basic form, my argument is this:

1. The current situation in the world is unacceptable

2. This situation could easily be allevaited if the United States increased its foriegn aid.

3. A drastic increase in forign Aid is achievable and sustainable

3. Therefore, the United States has an ethical obligation to increase its foriegn aid

What exactly do you disagree with here, George? Do you think that the current global situation is acceptable? Do you think giving aid to poorer nations would not help them? Did foriegn aid kill your dog? Do you have some kind of emotional opposition to redistributing American wealth? Or, do you think we are entitled to our wealth?
0 Replies
 
McGentrix
 
  1  
Reply Fri 20 Feb, 2004 07:24 am
our .1% is a heck of a lot more than there .7% so what's the problem?
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IronLionZion
 
  1  
Reply Fri 20 Feb, 2004 07:27 am
McGentrix wrote:
our .1% is a heck of a lot more than there .7% so what's the problem?


Helpfull hint: Statements are better when they make sense.
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McGentrix
 
  1  
Reply Fri 20 Feb, 2004 07:40 am
IronLionZion wrote:
McGentrix wrote:
our .1% is a heck of a lot more than there .7% so what's the problem?


Helpfull hint: Statements are better when they make sense.


Simply because you don't understand them, doesn't mean theydon't make sense. I had assumed you actually read the article you posted...

Quote:
In reality we give only .1% percent of GNP to foreign aid. The generally agreed upon goal for industrialized nations is about .7%. In fact, the United States dedicates a lower percentage to foreign aid than any other industrialized nation on Earth. We give only about 10.9 billion dollars a year. To put this in perspective, the Netherlands, a relatively small nation with only about 5 million people, gives 3.2 billion - almost a third of what America contributes.
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kitchenpete
 
  1  
Reply Fri 20 Feb, 2004 07:50 am
Bookmark for better reading, later.

ILZ - good idea to break out this thread from the "hate America" one.

KP
0 Replies
 
IronLionZion
 
  1  
Reply Fri 20 Feb, 2004 08:00 am
McGentrix wrote:
IronLionZion wrote:
McGentrix wrote:
our .1% is a heck of a lot more than there .7% so what's the problem?


Helpfull hint: Statements are better when they make sense.


Simply because you don't understand them, doesn't mean theydon't make sense. I had assumed you actually read the article you posted...


I wrote the 'article' I posted. Are you saying that .1%>.7% or that the current situation is fine because we give more aid in dollar amounts than smaller nations? Cause both routes lead to a brick wall.
0 Replies
 
McGentrix
 
  1  
Reply Fri 20 Feb, 2004 08:08 am
I did not know you wrote that, so I will apologize for saying it was an article.

I am saying that .1% of a trillion dollars (for example) is more than .7% of a million dollars (for example). I have no idea what the actual percentages of mopney that each country gives, but I do know that the US is very generous in it's foriegn aid. I am also familiar with the idea that we use our foriegn aid as leverage. I woould dare say that every country does.
0 Replies
 
Fedral
 
  1  
Reply Fri 20 Feb, 2004 09:15 am
I would like to see a source for your .1 and .7 figures and all the other data you posted here Iron.

I also wonder if your aid figures include all the various PRIVATE charities that the American people give to and are there to help the unfortunate in other countries.
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georgeob1
 
  1  
Reply Fri 20 Feb, 2004 09:35 am
IronLionZion wrote:


1. The current situation in the world is unacceptable

2. This situation could easily be allevaited if the United States increased its foriegn aid.

3. A drastic increase in forign Aid is achievable and sustainable

3. Therefore, the United States has an ethical obligation to increase its foriegn aid



Interesting "logic".

Unacceptable to whom?

Not at all clear that increased government aid would significantly alleviate the problem of poverty. Indeed the experience since WWII suggests that with respect to undeveloped countries the opposite is often true - foreign aid and interference more often than not interferes with needed political and social reform which are usually the real barriers to the elimination of poverty.

"... easily alleviated..." Easily in comparison to what?

"... drastic increase achievable and sustainable..." sez who?? 1% of GDP is a great deal of money, considering that our private and public cash transfers are already at par. Can you point out any American politicians of any party who advocate this?

While you may feel there is an "ethical obligation" here, I doubt that most Americans would agree - nor indeed would most of our European critics readily agree to such an obligation to so increase their own giving
0 Replies
 
revel
 
  1  
Reply Fri 20 Feb, 2004 07:49 pm
Quote:
I am saying that .1% of a trillion dollars (for example) is more than .7% of a million dollars (for example). I have no idea what the actual percentages of mopney that each country gives


I am reminded of the story of the two mites in the Bible.

Charity starts at home though. I do think more needs to be done about AIDS in Africa, and all the undeveloped starving people that you see on TV commercials advertising Christian Children funds or something. Personally I have always trusted the government where I know there are people to check on things and ways to correct it if things are not done right rather than charity groups.
0 Replies
 
IronLionZion
 
  1  
Reply Sat 21 Feb, 2004 01:17 pm
McGentrix wrote:
I am saying that .1% of a trillion dollars (for example) is more than .7% of a million dollars (for example).


This is a trivial truism. It is not how much we give, it is about how little we give relative to what we could give. To go back to the analogy I made - tossing a few crumbs from the feast to the starving masses does not qualify as a benevolent act.

Quote:
I have no idea what the actual percentages of mopney that each country gives, but I do know that the US is very generous in it's foriegn aid.


No, it is not. I think I elaborated on this as well as I - and by extension anyone else cause I'm awesome - in my first post:

In reality we give only .1% percent of GNP to foreign aid. The generally agreed upon goal for industrialized nations is about .7%. In fact, the United States dedicates a lower percentage to foreign aid than any other industrialized nation on Earth. We give only about 10.9 billion dollars a year. To put this in perspective, the Netherlands, a relatively small nation with only about 5 million people, gives 3.2 billion - almost a third of what America contributes. We can find 87 billion to fight a war, but its nearly impossible to muster up 1 billion to fight AID's.

But, if further elaboration is needed, see this chart

The U.N. foriegn aid agreed target is 0.7 percent of GNP. Most nations do not meet that target. Also, note our dubious position at the bottom of the list.

Quote:
I am also familiar with the idea that we use our foriegn aid as leverage. I woould dare say that every country does.


Are you serious? Recently overheard at a pedophile convention: "Other people in my family rape children and run over squirrels, ergo, I am clearly justified in doing the same." Do you not see the moral bankruptcy of your entire argument, McGentrix?
0 Replies
 
McGentrix
 
  1  
Reply Sat 21 Feb, 2004 01:57 pm
What are you talking about? You should stay away from those pedophile conventions, they are screwing with your judgement.

You talk in percentages that are meaningless. Take a look at totals instead.

http://www.globalissues.org/images/NetODA2002.jpg

As you can see, US totals are higher than the lowest 12 countries combined. You scream in outrage about percentages, yet ignore the totals.

Get over yourself.
0 Replies
 
IronLionZion
 
  1  
Reply Sat 21 Feb, 2004 02:40 pm
georgeob1 wrote:
Interesting "logic".


Likewise, "interesting" use "of" meaningless quotation "marks."

Quote:
Unacceptable to whom?


To everybody with even the most basic sense of morality, perspective, and intelligence. Also, to nearly 3 million Africans infected with Aids last year, etc, etc, etc. And, in retrospect, to another 2 million Africans who had AIDs last year and died - without access to generic drugs, I might add. I would like to see an argument as to how the current situation is acceptable. Thanks.

Quote:
Not at all clear that increased government aid would significantly alleviate the problem of poverty. Indeed the experience since WWII suggests that with respect to undeveloped countries the opposite is often true - foreign aid and interference more often than not interferes with needed political and social reform which are usually the real barriers to the elimination of poverty.


I would hazard to say that the general ineffectiveness of the Western worlds approach to development can be chalked up too faulty methodology. It in no way follows that the entire concept of foriegn aid is faulty.

For example, the World Bank/IMF's methods of fostering development are questionable at best. An argument can be made that these organizations fail so often because thier pre-occupation with promoting Western economic values and protecting Western economic interests interferes with thier "development stratagies." Among others, former chief financial officer of the World Bank, Joe Stiglitz, has spoken extensively about the fundamental flaws in the way these organization promote development (he resigned in protest of this.) Others, such as Russian official Georgi Arbotov, have labelled them "neo-Bolsheviks who love expropriating other peoples money, imposing undemocratic and alien rules of economic and political conduct and stifling economic freedom."

Now, the intention of the paragraph above was not to derail the discussion into a debate over the World Bank and IMF. It was to show that failures in effectively implementing our forign aid dollars does not neccessarily mean the concept of foeign aid itself is faulty. That would be a rather retarded conclusion.

Also, who said all, or even most, foriegn aid has to be channeled through comprehensive economic stratagies aimed at development. Education, birth control, drilling wells, aming others, are all in desparate need for aid.

Quote:
"... drastic increase achievable and sustainable..." sez who?? 1% of GDP is a great deal of money, considering that our private and public cash transfers are already at par.


Giving 1% of GNP is not a great deal of money - at least not in the sense that it would affect our economy in any substantive way. Consider the Japanese experiance: for more than a decade Japan gave more raw dollars of foriegn aid than any other nation - even though it is far smaller and has been beset by economic woes. In 2001, the United States gave $10.9 billion, Japan $9.7 billion.

Also, where are the sources I asked for? Namely, the sources that prove America gives as much per capita yearly as other nations when private donations are taken into account.

Quote:
Can you point out any American politicians of any party who advocate this?


What American politicians think of this is absolutely irrelevent to my arguments correctness. To reciprocate with an equally meaningless question: can you point out any American politicians of any party who opposed slavery in its earliest years?

Quote:
While you may feel there is an "ethical obligation" here, I doubt that most Americans would agree - nor indeed would most of our European critics readily agree to such an obligation to so increase their own giving


You mean the same "most Americans" who think we give almost 25% of our budget to foriegn AID?

Anybody who does not feel we have an ethical obligation is either a) ignorant of the situation (most Americans fall into this catagory), b) on the most fundamental level, is morally and ethically bankrupt.
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roger
 
  1  
Reply Sat 21 Feb, 2004 02:52 pm
Interesting that American aid is subject to comparison with other nations. Actually, it sounds quite fair, until the subject of immigration comes up. In that context, any comparisons of American immigration policy is condemmed on its own supposed lack of merits, and reference to the policies of Germany, The Netherlands, Mexico, etc. are said to be irelevant. I suppose that's the price of greatness.
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IronLionZion
 
  1  
Reply Sat 21 Feb, 2004 02:55 pm
McGentrix wrote:
What are you talking about? You talk in percentages that are meaningless. Take a look at totals instead.


Its been said, McGentrix, many ways, many times, and by many people, but exactly what the hell is wrong with you?

As I have said numerous times: It is not how much we give, it is about how little we give relative to what we could easily give. To go back to the analogy I made - tossing a few crumbs from the feast to the starving masses does not qualify as a benevolent act.

The "totals" are irrelevent. The moral culpability remains. For example, according to the chart, Netherlands, with a population of roughly 5 million manages to cough up a quarter ($3.4 billion) of what America can muster with a population of 300 million ($10.9 billion.) Also, according to the chart America gives a lesser percentage of its GNP than any other industrialized nation on Earth. If you honestly do not understand the signifigance of these figures, then I really see no point in furthering this conversation.

Quote:
...US totals are higher than the lowest 12 countries combined....


I would be hard pressed to come up with a more meaningless statistic.

In all fairness this was the only response your moral bankruptcy and limited intellect allows at this point. I can only hope that your ineptness is not representative of most Americans. If it is, then I am genuinely afraid for humanity.
0 Replies
 
IronLionZion
 
  1  
Reply Sat 21 Feb, 2004 03:00 pm
roger wrote:
Interesting that American aid is subject to comparison with other nations. Actually, it sounds quite fair, until the subject of immigration comes up. In that context, any comparisons of American immigration policy is condemmed on its own supposed lack of merits, and reference to the policies of Germany, The Netherlands, Mexico, etc. are said to be irelevant. I suppose that's the price of greatness.


I smell red herring.

Also, the comparisons were done to point out the idiocy of the argument that America is "generous with its aid dollars." It also effectively demonstrated how pathetically little we give in comparison to what we could (and should) be giving.
0 Replies
 
OCCOM BILL
 
  1  
Reply Sat 21 Feb, 2004 03:27 pm
bookmark
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OCCOM BILL
 
  1  
Reply Sat 21 Feb, 2004 04:00 pm
I happen to agree that it is shameful that we don't do more to help our impoverished brothers. I'm more for teaching men to fish than giving those fish, but I admit we do to little of either. However, I think your stats are a little over the top because they ignore too much of what we do for our fellow man.

Medicine: The US carries the lion's share of the burden for drug development R&D, Medical advancement research and other related Items. I think it's fair to assume that it isn't just Americans that benefit from these advancements despite paying the largest portion of the costs.

Defense: Even before we decided to engage in the war on terrorism, the US was footing the Bill for many a nation. 276 Billion in 1999. Sure it can be argued that we do this purely for selfish reasonsÂ… but the security is enjoyed by more than just us. Costa Rica, for instance, has no standing army and dedicates virtually no money to their own defense, which in turn frees up more of their own funds for other, more humanitarian, purposes.

Energy Research: I would agree that this too is under funded by the US, but it is another example of the US spending huge sums on research that, if successful, would be beneficial to all of mankind.

The US picks up quite a few tabs that wouldn't be included as "charitable contributions". Assisting the Russian's in dismantling the former Soviet Union's Nukes, for instance, is another place where American money is being used for a selfish purpose, but, none the less is good for the entire world.

I wouldn't know how to tabulate a total including these related items, but I think they should be considered, before claiming the US only contributes .1% of it's GDP to help the rest of the world.
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