Opinion

The other guy is providing aid

The US government has argued recently that NGO charities and philanthropists are already substantially making up the “gap” in the USA’s aid commitment. The Development Assistance Committee of the OECD has compiled data to show that only about $3B is coming from this source. This raises US aid from 0.15% of GNP to 0.18% of GNP … hardly near the commitment of 0.7% of GNP (= increase of about $38B).

Overall, Americans greatly overestimate the amount of federal funds spent on foreign aid. In a 2001 survey, the Program on International Policy Attitudes (PIPA) at the University of Maryland reported that Americans, on average, believed that foreign aid accounts for 20% of the federal budget, roughly 24-times the actual figure!! Essentially the same result was found in a mid-1990’s survey.

So, we (Americans) think that our federal government is providing substantial aid to the poor and the government thinks that the citizens are using non-governmental channels to provide aid to the poor. What confusion! And who loses? We all do.

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