Wednesday, June 08, 2005

Spending priorities

The NY Times editorializes on the "Crumbs for Africa" promised by George Bush following a bit of pressure from Tony Blair to buck up on aid to crisis-ridden areas of the continent.

Noting that Bush relented by pledging "$674 million in emergency aid that Congress had already approved for needy countries," the editors of the Times went on to add a bit of background:

The United States currently gives just 0.16 percent of its national income to help poor countries, despite signing a United Nations declaration three years ago in which rich countries agreed to increase their aid to 0.7 percent by 2015. Since then, Britain, France and Germany have all announced plans for how to get to 0.7 percent; America has not. The piddling amount Mr. Bush announced yesterday is not even 0.007 percent.

What is 0.7 percent of the American economy? About $80 billion. That is about the amount the Senate just approved for additional military spending, mostly in Iraq. It's not remotely close to the $140 billion corporate tax cut last year.
Or, to contextualize this figure in a different way, Cursor points out that $674 million buys only about three days in Iraq. To go even further, we might wish to take this news into account:
Global military spending in 2004 broke the $1 trillion barrier for the first time since the Cold War, boosted by the U.S. war against terror and the growing defense budgets of India and China, a European think tank said Tuesday.

Led by the United States, which accounted for almost half of all military expenditure, the world spent $1.035 trillion on defense, equal to 2.6 percent of global gross domestic product, the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute said.
I dunno about you, but I'd prefer to see my country spend money helping people fight off infectious diseases, combat malnutrition, and the like, rather than ensuring that Boeing and Raytheon are well fed.