Tuesday, December 28, 2004

I Can Do It Myself

Thanks for the Memory to reader David at Ace of Spades HQ.

Ace is, to say the least, miffed at suggestions by a Norwegian UN official that the US is stingy.

This story has been big news on the Blogs today. Most of the conservative blogs have been busy mocking the following quote by Jan Egeland, the Norwegian in question:

"There are several donors who are less generous than before in a growing world economy," he said, adding that politicians in the United States and Europe "believe that they are really burdening the taxpayers too much, and the taxpayers want to give less. It's not true. They want to give more."

The tone of much of the derision has been along the lines of "How stupid, no we don't want to give more. We're AGAINST more taxes."

While I agree with those bloggers about being against more taxes, I have to say, egeland is right in one respect: We do want to give more. But what he fails to uderstand is this: What we don't want is our government taking from us and calling it giving. We'd rather be free to give, and to choose how we give and to whom. If we are granted that freedom, we will give.

And thanks to David, I have evidence that bears that out. The US government may not give as much in total foreign aid as some might want, but Americans as private citizens give threefold as much:

There is no comprehensive measure of how much Americans donate overseas, but a conservative estimate, based on surveys and voluntary reporting, puts annual private giving around $35 billion. Even this low-ball figure is more than three and a half times the amount of official development assistance (ODA) given out in a year by the U.S. government. In the third wave of foreign aid, it is private money that is making the difference.

That's been my point all along. And I believe that the same truth applies to domestic welfare as well as to foreign aid. That's why I linked to Samaritan's Purse earlier today. That's why I encourage giving to local and national and international charities, both religious and secular. That's why I'm such a huge fan of Extreme Makeover Home Edition, and why despite some issues with her politics and religious views, I admire Oprah Winfrey's Angel Network: PRIVATE ENDEAVORS ARE A MORE EFFICIENT CONDUIT FOR CHARITABLE WORK THAN GOVERNMENT AGENCIES.

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