Are we, the American people stingy? I'm sure this has been hashed and rehashed around the blogosphere since Jan Egeland's comments the other day. I know he retracted the statement, but to me it to little, to late. It's like that verbally abusive boyfriend telling the girlfriend that he really didn't mean it-honest.
Is it true though?
This question haunted me last night, as I tried to go to sleep. I did a bunch of checking around the Internet for some numbers about how much America really gives.
One of the most interesting facts I came upon was that there are things we do that are not counted by places like the UN. Our world food program is not counted in how much we donate to third world countries. The US gives more then any other nation on earth to the World Food Program.
It also doesn't count any AIDS relief given to the these countries. This will be a 15 billion dollar effort over 5 years, that also includes 500 million to help stop the transmission of the disease from Mother to Child. It also doesn't count the 241 billion private donations Americans like you and me give every year.
That's right. The Giving USA Foundation clocks American citizens as giving 241 billion a year to charitable organizations. 241 billion dollars. This is 2.2 percent of our Gross National Product, the prefered measuring stick used by the UN and Europe. That's 2.2 percent before any aid given out by our government.
I must admit that as an American I found to be very proud of that figure. Now not all of that is given to developing nations, it wasn't broken down between domestic and foreign contributions, but it is still an impressive number.
I wondered why our private donations didn't count towards what America gives, and the only answer that I could come up with while searching the Internet was that it didn't come directly from our government.
Where the hell do they think the money from our government comes from? That's right, the same people that gave 241 billion dollars to charity in 2003. It came from our taxes.
Still, do we give enough? Do we help those who aren't as blessed as we are enough? I don't think you could ever help enough, but calling America stingy is not fair and it is not right. I know, I know, Jan Egeland has back peddled away from his comments and said they weren't directed at any certain country, but who are we kidding? We know who those comments were directed at. Saying "I didn't mean it" doesn't make me any less pissed off about it.
I try not to be political on my blog, as there are so many others out there that are. I'm not a Republican, and I'm not a Democrat. If I had to identify with a political party it would be more then likely the Libertarians, but fortunately in this country you can be what I am: An Independent that looks to all sides and sees what's best for our country at that time.
This statement struck such a cord with me that I couldn't help but write about it. It tore at me when I know many, many people in this country are generous. When I know that our government gives more then any other nation on this planet we all share.
I do have one last political thing to say, in a For F*ck's Sake kind of way:
Fuck the UN.
If anyone would like to know my sources, I have them all.