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All the Perl that's Practical to Extract and Report

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  • I keep hearing about how we rank so low in aid compared to GNP, yet the same people don't say how, in a dollar amount, it's still greater than anyone else. If you give 1% of a 1000 GNP, it's still less than .5 of a 10000 GNP. But, that doesn't seem to matter, since the percentage is what people seem to be talking about. Everyone spins the stats to make them look good, or us look bad.

    Bush has the right to be huffy about this. If people want to complain about how much we give in aid, then the next time you n
    • by bazzargh (5302) on 2005.01.12 9:10 (#37399)
      The UN figures are here [un.org]

      Its true that in the last 3 years the US has given more in absolute terms to least developed nations (prior to 3 years ago, Japan was the largest donor 7 years running). And I'm not complaining about that. More is better, no argument.

      However, if you're going to make a comparison, using that number is silly: the US is *bigger*, and you need to scale this somehow if you want to compare their contribution. Scaling by GNI seems fair enough as its scaling on the ability to give: Norway has a higher GNI/capita than the US so it scales /down/ their contribution in comparison. (the world bank [worldbank.org] lists those figures as $38,700 and $35,400)

      If we just scaled by population, which would tend to rate the US contribution higher, the discrepancies still pop out: 293M people versus just 10M in Belgium [cia.gov], but only gave 4x more?

      Or, take a similar population: France, Germany, UK, Italy (total: 260M, GNI/cap around $22,000) gave double what the US did.

      Put it this way: if Bill Gates gave double what you do to charity each year, would you consider him generous? The answer isn't a straight yes or no, and the same applies to US ODA.

      • Let me be really simplistic about this..

        If people want to gripe about what we do/don't give.. don't ask for help when you need it (and you will ask).

        If you go by population, I'd expect China to be giving leaps and bounds more than anyone else.

        If Gates only gave double to charity each year of what I did, yes.. I would consider him generous. Why? It's CHARITY. It's not an obligation.. and any charity is more generous than none.

        Why can't people just be grateful anymore? Why does charity and aid have to be
      • Scaling by GNI seems fair enough

        I think comparing is stupid. This is my main point, which KM addressed nicely.

        My secondary point is that if you must compare, we still give a hell of a lot, and as per the first point, don't bitch about it.

        My third point is that those comparison numbers do not include an area where the US gives more than most other nations: private donations (over $200m as of Jan 5 [go.com] ... surely a lot more since, at least $280m and counting [the American Red Cross alone has $80m more today
        • To repeat myself: I am NOT complaining about the amount the US gives. More is better, /whoever/ gives it. Charities here (in the UK) are arguing that it is not a bad thing that its become a politicial pissing contest, as it only results in more being given all round.

          The comparisons originate with the figures I pointed at, because the UN suggested a target for developed nations to reach 0.7% of GNI for overseas development aid. The US has tripled their aid in that category WHICH IS GREAT.

          In private life th
          • In private life this same kind of target is common

            But, to be blunt, who the hell is the UN to tell us how much we should give? It's this sort of thing that turns Americans against the UN.

            the private donations are actually comparable to elsewhere

            I know some other nations give about the same in private donations; if I implied otherwise, it wasn't intentional. Busy day, I don't write as carefully as I should. :-)