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The United States of Denial

Reported by Melanie - December 30, 2004

The New York Times (free registration required) sets the record straight today (December 30, 2004) on the sorry state of US foreign aid in its lead editorial, Are We Stingy? Yes. Here's part of what the Times says:

We hope Secretary of State Colin Powell was privately embarrassed when, two days into a catastrophic disaster that hit 12 of the world's poorer countries and will cost billions of dollars to meliorate, he held a press conference to say that America, the world's richest nation, would contribute $15 million. That's less than half of what Republicans plan to spend on the Bush inaugural festivities.

The American aid figure for the current disaster is now $35 million, and we applaud Mr. Bush's turnaround. But $35 million remains a miserly drop in the bucket, and is in keeping with the pitiful amount of the United States budget that we allocate for nonmilitary foreign aid. According to a poll, most Americans believe the United States spends 24 percent of its budget on aid to poor countries; it actually spends well under a quarter of 1 percent. (Emphasis added.)

And:

Making things worse, we often pledge more money than we actually deliver. Victims of the earthquake in Bam, Iran, a year ago are still living in tents because aid, including ours, has not materialized in the amounts pledged. And back in 2002, Mr. Bush announced his Millennium Challenge account to give African countries development assistance of up to $5 billion a year, but the account has yet to disperse a single dollar. (Emphasis added.)

Mr. Bush said yesterday that the $35 million we've now pledged "is only the beginning" of the United States' recovery effort. Let's hope that is true, and that this time, our actions will match our promises.

COMMENT: This is what we should be hearing from all our media. As a "reality based" person, truth matters to me. I'd love to believe that the $35 million we're giving is a huge and generous sum, as Fox News would have me think. But when put into perspective, it's a shameful pittance. Tell me the truth. I can handle it. I just wish the media and George W. Bush could.

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