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Help for Poor Nations: Watch What Bush Does, Not What He Says

Bush State of Union Speech Misleading

January 30, 2002

In his State of the Union Speech last night, George Bush proclaimed a goal of "extending American compassion throughout the world."  That sounds wonderful.

But apparently our compassion will have to be extended without much -- if any -- additional funding for that purpose, since it was reported earlier that very same day that the Bush administration has blocked a widely supported international plan to double worldwide foreign aid to poor nations.

Many readers may be thinking to themselves "We already give more than anybody else, so much money, we just can't afford to give any more."  The facts are quite the opposite.

Out of all the industrialized countries, the United States gives the least in proportion to its resources.  We spend one-tenth of one percent (.01%) of our Gross Domestic Product on helping those abroad.  Some of the industrialized nations devote ten times that percentage of their economic output to foreign aid.

Is it just some fuzzy-headed liberals who are advocating this plan to double global foreign aid?  Hardly.  This effort is supported by Canada, Britain, several other European nations, the United Nations, and last but not least, that bastion of radical left-wing, bleeding-heart hand-wringing, the World Bank.  It's only us, by far the richest bastards in the world, who can't seem to find the moral compass to support the plan.

The American foreign aid budget is $10 billion, a mere 1% of our federal budget.  It hasn't been increased for 10 years.  Measured as a percentage of our overall economy, you would have to go back before World War II to find it at a lower level.  We're becoming ever-more stingy and hard-hearted.

Bush has a history of grandiloquent speech about the Third World poor unaccompanied by any real investment in doing anything about it.  The very first Daily Diatribe six months ago noted Bush's moving words to the effect that

The needs are many and undeniable.  And they are a challenge to our conscience and to complacency.  A world where some live in comfort and plenty, while half of the human race lives on less than $2 a day, is neither just, nor stable.

Unfortunately, back then, as now, Bush didn't appropriate any resources to accomplish his lofty goals.

Bush's words allude to morality ("just") and self-defense ("stable) as reasons for helping the Third World poor.  I don't really expect morality or compassion to ever move Bush and his ilk to act, but after 9/11 wasn't there widespread agreement that it was just that global inequity described by Bush which provided a breeding ground for terrorists?

So far, though, Bush seems to want to address the security issue by massive increases in our military expenditures, not by fostering more justice in the world. 

Bush's rhetoric both six months ago about "a challenge to our conscience," as well as last night about "extending American compassion throughout the world," is as hollow as his heart.

[Related article: "America the Most Selfish"]

This was a selection from The Daily Diatribe

More on Global Economic Injustice

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