U.S. spends $38 billion on foreign aid? (Not nearly enough)

Glenn Beck got all worked up over this chart, as if it revealed some great, cardinal sin:

Chart on foreign aid as a part of the U.S. budget, from http://www.financedegreecenter.com/foreign-aid/

Chart on foreign aid as a part of the U.S. budget, from http://www.financedegreecenter.com/foreign-aid/

FinanceDegreeCenter.com is a mysterious organization that does no-one-really-will-say what on the internet.  A few months ago I got a series of e-mails from the group, telling that they were changing their name from an earlier iteration and claiming my links to one of their charts jeopardized all the good work they did for people seeking higher education, merely by accurately citing where I got the chart.  That sounded fishy, so I asked them what they did, really, and I got a barrage of e-mails . . .

I think they get paid to steer people to for-profit, on-line schools.  That doesn’t mean their charts are inaccurate, though it does mean I don’t post them without a lot of checking first (this is the first one I’ve posted since then).

Which is a long way of saying, Beck sure has crumby sources.

Bad as the source may be, the information isn’t far off.  But there’s the problem.

Beck’s audience probably believes, as Beck has told them, that the U.S. pays way too much in foreign aid.  Polls repeatedly show most people think we spend anywhere from ten times to a hundred times what we do.  A great little article with charts at the Washington Post explained:

The poll result that seems to most frustrate budget analysts is the apparent belief among Americans that foreign aid is a huge cost to the federal government. The latest poll that my colleague Ezra Klein cites finds that the average American thinks the United States spends 28 percent of the federal budget on aid to foreign governments — more than the country spends on Social Security or Medicare or defense.

In reality, we spend only 1 percent on foreign aid.

This gap between perception and reality is ridiculously large. That’s depressing, but it also presents an opportunity. The case that 28 percent of the budget should go to foreign aid is very strong. And if Americans already think we give that much — well, the least we could do is accommodate them!

We don’t spend enough.  Yes, we spend $38 billion.  That’s less than 1% of total U.S. outlays, and it’s been declining as a share of our Gross National Income and Gross Domestic Product since 1960.

Glenn Beck gets outraged, and shouts away, “$38 billion,” hoping that his shouting will make the number appear larger than it is.  He thinks, and says, it’s too much.

$38 billion?  Less than 1% of the budget.  Less than one penny of every dollar.

As a nation, the U.S. does not spend enough on foreign aid.  We should spend more.

Think of the good that could be done, if our nation actually did increase foreign aid to equal 25% of the federal budget (without taking it out of the hides of poverty-struck, homeless newborn babies and baby ducks as GOP legislators would insist).  How would the world be different?

More, and resources: 

15 Responses to U.S. spends $38 billion on foreign aid? (Not nearly enough)

  1. Black Flag® says:

    “The philosophy of the school room in one generation will be the philosophy of government in the next.”

    Abraham Lincoln


  2. Black Flag® says:

    You do not understand “Common Core”, nor think about how it came to exist.

    You do not understand it has been a process that originated from the moment government seized education.

    You do not understand why government seizes anything – it does so for its purposes and only its purposes – whether transportation, communication, education, law, health… and NOT FOR YOUR BENEFIT.

    You suffer from such a serious lack of critical thinking – probably purposeful – since you are a benefactor of this destruction.


  3. Ed Darrell says:

    You’re making a good case that your education failed, and you can’t critically make a case (Common Core a great failure? This was the first year of use; you didn’t know that?)


  4. Ed Darrell says:

    The kids today are less educated, have less critical thinking and are merely human robots.

    Kids today compared to the government schools of the past?


    Public education in the U.S. has been, and still is, a great success, making us the envy of the rest of the world.


  5. Black Flag® says:

    Here is the sick state of your “government” education


  6. Black Flag® says:

    Government schooling is no success – it is a disaster.

    The kids today are less educated, have less critical thinking and are merely human robots.

    Dictating “fairness” promotes evil. You merely define “fair” so to suit your own whim. You ignore everyone else’s “fairness” if it doesn’t fit such whim.

    Fair is subjective to the individual and hence dangerous when used in argument of force upon others.


  7. Black Flag® says:

    You truly don’t know what misanthrope it, right Ed? Get a dictionary.

    US doesn’t fund Pakistan schools, and further more, why do you believe you should steal money from your neighbor to educate another countries kids?


  8. Ed Darrell says:

    Government education is one of the great success stories of human creation in the past 10,000 years. The advantages of public schooling in the U.S. are so self-evident I think only America’s enemies would deny it (Tea Party, Texas GOP, South Carolina GOP included).

    The numbers surfaced when the companies whined to the Senate Finance Committee than they would find it easier to maloverpay their executives if only they could get tax breaks on bringing the money on-shore in the U.S.

    Incidentally, Finance Committee studies show that the foreign banks in which this money is kept generally do their banking in New York — so it’s a real legal dodge to claim the money isn’t in the U.S., shouldn’t be taxed here (since you and I pay the money to keep their deposits secure — they’re getting a tax-free ride at your expense), and can’t be spent here.

    Fair taxes. Fairness in almost all cases requires a progressive tax scale, in which the poor who get kicked by the system pay much less than the super-rich who get constantly fellated by the system.


  9. Ed Darrell says:

    You favor letting Islamic radicals educate Pakistani kids instead of the U.S. funding more U.S.-traditional schools?

    That’s rather a new height in self-destructive misanthropy.


  10. Black Flag® says:


    So your bizarre argument (as if you have anything else), you believe that people or companies who pay the legal amount of tax are dodging taxes they do not have to pay, so you can fund another government disaster called government education.


  11. Black Flag® says:

    It should be $0.

    It is merely political payoffs, nothing more. As such, it is a disaster

    Private charity spending utterly dwarfs this – and is effective.


  12. Debra says:

    It isn’t even how little is being spent but how it is delivered.

    Using armed forces to deliver aid is terribly problematic. Military units don;t have the proper training and tend to be oblivious (willfully at times) to issues of local politics. Plus, having stuff delivered by people packing guns is scary. As a result a surprising amount of aid is refused because people simply do not trust foreign military groups. And really why should they? If a Chinese troop landed in New York to distribute aid to the homeless wouldn’t that seem kind of weird? A lot of potentially life saving mosquito nets sit in warehouses because local people are distrust the motives. Will the nets turn against them the way the immunization scheme did in Pakistan? What is the real agenda behind hte aid? They do not know. Plus, these charitable activities have a tendency to be self serving. The military/corporate partners give a little and get a whole lot in return. Trojan horses.


  13. Ed Darrell says:

    Oh, yeah — this was a prompt for my looking for foreign aid in the first place:

    Liked by 1 person

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