Thursday, December 30, 2004

NYTimes: "Yes, we are Stingy!"

The New York Times, arriving a few days late to "Stingy-fest 2004," props up the "US is a Cheapskate" meme in an editorial today.

Mr. Egeland was right on target. 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.

(Make sure you get in a good slam on Republicans, guys.) They go on to complain that $35 million is "a miserly drop in the bucket" and compare the amount donated by the US alone last year to development aid with the amount donated by all the EU countries combined -- as if this is a fair comparison.

The complaint seems to be that this $35 million is a small percentage of our GNP, and given that, we should be donating much, much more. Doesn't matter, I guess, that we're donating the most. And it doesn't matter, I guess, that private contributions by US citizens through private organizations (some of them -- gasp! -- "faith-based") have dwarfed the amount donated by certain EU member nations.

Here's how math works for the New York Times.

Say country "A" has a GNP of $10, and they donate $5 to the cause. The New York Times (and the UN) say "Wow! You just gave 50% of your GNP!" Now say country "B" has a GNP of $5 trillion and they donate $1 trillion. The New York Times clucks its tongue, saying "Only 20%? How miserly of you!" It doesn't matter to them that country "B" donated more. It only mattered that they didn't sacrifice enough.

Or, rather, that they didn't commit to a global redistribution of their wealth.


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