Monday, June 05, 2006

Hyman Stingy with the Facts

Whatever your feelings about the amount of foreign aid the U.S. should be contributing to the rest of the world, one thing that’s inescapable is that Hyman’s commentary on the subject is rife with deception.

Sure, we’ve an example of a typically Hymanesque epithet in the first line, “French-convict George Soros,” but this is just a throwaway line. The real spinning comes later.

Hyman argues that Americans give generous amounts of aid to foreign countries. True, we don’t come close to the 0.7 percent of GDP that the U.N. suggests as a goal for industrialized nations’ giving, but then again, neither do most other countries. On the other hand, Hyman claims “U.S. individuals, corporations, groups and other governmental assistance was about $80 billion in 2004.” Conclusion: Americans are exceedingly generous; they just express this generosity through private channels rather than through their government.

I agree that we Americans are, in general, a generous lot, and that if we were told what our generosity could do for impoverished people around the world, we’d be more than happy to give more than we do. That we don’t is the fault of some of our more isolationist leaders who foster myths about the amount of foreign aid we already give and present false dilemmas between helping others around the world and helping Americans.

And when it comes to his commentary, Hyman is firmly in the camp of these deceivers. For example, Hyman trumpets the fact that the U.S., while not meeting the 0.7 percent goal, gave $27.5 billion, more than any other country.

That’s true, but misleading. Yes, the U.S. gave more in raw dollars than any other country, but when measured against other industrialized nations in terms of contributions as a percent of GDP,
the U.S. has consistently finished last in recent years. This is a national embarrassment, only made worse by folks like Hyman spinning it into something to be proud of. To wax rhapsodic about American’s generosity based on the raw numbers is a bit like Bill Gates bragging about writing a $100 check to his favorite charity while someone making minimum wage forked over $10 for the same cause. Who’s really being more generous?

But that’s only part of Hyman’s deception. Remember the “about $80 billion” in private giving Hyman cited as evidence of Americans’ generosity? First, it’s actually $71.2 billion, or “about $70 billion.” More importantly,
two-thirds of this money is not given by Americans at all; it’s money earned by immigrants in this country that is sent back to their home nations, usually to their families. That is, Hyman is counting as American generosity huge sums of money earned by non-Americans (many of whom are the people Hyman derides as lazy and shiftless bums looking for free handouts).

I agree that Americans aren’t stingy. But a significant number of our most influential leaders are. The undeclared and unilateral war against Iraq will probably clock in at around a trillion dollars before things are all said and done, but our government can only cough up the tiniest fraction of that to help the rest of the world.

This is not merely immoral; it’s plain stupid. Just from an investment point of view, how much talent is going to waste because so many people in other countries have to spend all day simply trying to feed themselves and their families? How much creativity has failed to flower because so many millions die in childhood? How much innovation across the globe is stifled because there is no educational or economic infrastructure to nurture it? In terms of our global human capital, we’re wasting a huge percentage of it. Doesn’t it make sense to help tap it by investing in it?

And that’s not even bringing up the moral imperative to help others. Most Americans would likely recognize the need, duty, and benefits of helping their fellow human beings. It’s often noted that America is by far the most religious of the world’s industrialized nations. Given that the main teaching of the dominant religion in our country is to help the poor and less fortunate, I can’t help but think Americans of all stripes would put other nations to shame with their generosity if called upon.

What we need now are more public voices to foster that latent passion, to enflame the hearths of charity.

And that’s The Counterpoint.

Hyman Index: 4.71


At 2:17 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Yeah, Hyman loves that "French convict" line. The only time he speaks approvingly of anything French.

But I say, let's stay with "Made in U.S.A." and talk about U.S. Convict, Rush Limbaugh!

Or for that matter, U.S. Convict David Smith, CEO and blow-job meister of Sinclair Broadcasting!

At 2:20 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...


Thank you for dissecting Hyman and revealing his falsehoods.

Have you ever thought about making all the back-and-forths (between Mark's crap and your responses) into a textbook about propaganda?

Mark provides so many classic examples and you do such a nice job of delineating them. I hope that a future generation could look back at them and, with a chuck, be happy that these Dark Times were bested.

At 2:26 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

It might be revealing to compare how much U.S. per-capita spending is devoted to foriegn aid and how much is spent on, say, bottled water, something totally unnecessary in a country such as ours, with clean tap water.

At 12:02 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

More manipulation from Remington:

"Yes, the U.S. gave more in raw dollars than any other country, but when measured against other industrialized nations in terms of contributions as a percent of GDP, the U.S. has consistently finished last in recent years. This is a national embarrassment, only made worse by folks like Hyman spinning it into something to be proud of."

The GDP line of argument is a complete joke. It's intent is to poo-poo the U.S. and nothing more. Remington also leaves out the fact that in addition to foreign donation giving, U.S. citizens give to multiple U.S. causes and sources. I'll wager Remington doesn't want to do a comparison of U.S. household generosity/contribution to foreign household generosity/contribution.

Further, Remington only gives you one source to review - cherry picked? And here's a question, how exactly did the agency Remington cherry picked arrive at the conclusion that immigrants account for two-thirds of private donations? How was that tracked?

And although Remington provides a link to Hyman's commentary, here is a serious omission that if Remington truly desired to be responsible with his debate....would have addressed:

'The rest of the developed world, particularly Europe, does not give private contributions in any meaningful amounts.'

The fact remains, the U.S. gives more in raw dollars than anybody else. That's significant and stands on its own. The GDP crap is really quite irrelevent.

At 1:27 AM, Anonymous hyman's turtle said...

anon says:
"The rest of the developed world, particularly Europe, does not give private contributions in any meaningful amounts."

there's no doubt the u-s is tops in total donations and per capita donations, as it can and should be. but i think anon is off the mark with his contention that everyone else makes no "meaningful" contributions. a quick yahoo search on "private donations by country" turned up this gem from the BBC from january 27, 2005. i did some cutting and pasting to shorten it up, but i think you'll see other european nations, of fewer people and fewer means, are indeed donating "meaningful" amounts.

Tsunami aid: Who's giving what
Here is a breakdown of the $7 billion plus that has been pledged so far:

United States
$350m in government donations, although this is expected to rise to $650m... Around $200 million of private donations

$183m in government donations, (approximately $39.50 per citizen), plus an estimated $30m raised in private donations.

$95m in government aid. Public donations totalling $20m had been collected by New Year's Day.

$80m in government donations... plus at least $75m in private donations including money raised during two telethons.

$66m in government donations, plus an estimated $90m raised in private and business donations.

$34m has been donated by the government as emergency aid... Aid groups say a further $35m has been raised in private donations.

Berlin has raised its government aid to $647m over three years. The public have donated an estimated $586m.

European Union
$628m in reconstruction and humanitarian funds, of which $130m is humanitarian aid. This brings the total sum donated by the bloc (the EU plus its member states) to roughly $2bn.

At 9:35 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Mike Thayer,

How about a Biblical, or Christian attitude toward giving? Specifically, more is expected of the wealthier.

Sorry, I -- along with many Christians -- think your dismissal of proportional giving as "a complete joke" is a slap against the teaching of Jesus.

And the business of analysing raw vs. per-GDP giving is not a complete joke. As Hyman's Turtle just demonstrated, some have been more generous than us.

Many are concerned about the rampant materialism and self-absorption in our country. Commentators from all over the spectrum have noted this.

Again, the "GDP crap" as you so eloquently state it, is consistent with New Testament teaching. Please stop insulting people with your "I hate anything Ted says" attitude. It serves you very poorly.

At 5:32 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Anonymous said...

How about a Biblical, or Christian attitude toward giving?

A secular liberal making a Christian argument? How interesting!

Open your wallet and quit bitching.

At 5:56 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

The following is truly rich:

"Please stop insulting people with your "I hate anything Ted says" attitude. It serves you very poorly."

Perhaps Mr. Ted should stop insulting people with his, "I hate anything Hyman says" attitude. It serves him and the Remington choir very poorly.

At 10:22 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Mike Thayer,

You don't know your New Testament. And calling me a secular liberal is just another bit of uniformed labeling on your part. You know nothing of my religious beliefs.

And, from your postings here, I can't but help that you wouldn't be too keen on Jesus's message. He was pretty big on elevating the downtrodden (Beatitudes), supporting unpopular minorities (Luke, Ch 10), and specifically warning those with great wealth. I don't suppose Jesus would support torture, as you have on this blog, either. Heck, if Jesus appeared before us these days, I bet a lot of hate radio would be on his case. It already happened once by those in power.

At 4:34 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

As I have said before, Hyman and his ilk give the rabid right-winger's a reason to feel good about not doing the right thing, and the truthfulness of his statements matters not, as long as they can exhume from it an excuse to remain wilfully ignorant, and SOS has done just that.
By the way, no one mentioned that much of our so-called foreign aid comes with strings attached, and is used as a club to promote our own hegemonic or religious interests, you know, like money for AIDS in Africa tied to abstinence-only education.
Mike B. in SC


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