Tuesday, January 11, 2005

Tsunami and Taxes

Since apparently people are intimidated by the thought of signing in to comment (or don't care) we four are the only ones commenting. So I thought I'd make this an official post, even though it's in relation to Nick's Post a few days ago relating to whether the United States is giving enough humanitarian aid in light of the recent Tsunami. Nick is quite right in saying that when you look at our contribution per capita, we're on par with other developed nations. However, Robert Kuttner was pointing to our stinginess based on the proportion of our GDP we were giving, not on our per capita contribution.

This discrepancy seems analogous to the argument of taxation. One who believes in a flat tax would say that per person, we're each giving about the same amount European countries are, and thus don't deserve the miserly reputation. However, one in favor of a progressive income tax could argue that on average, the American citizen is richer than a European citizen and should be able to part with more money for humanitarian aid. (Hey, it's not a perfect analogy but I like it all the same.)

I feel that while the United States doesn't wholly deserve its foul reputation (in this particular aspect), we should judge by proportion of GDP. It simply isn't enough to look at the size of a country and determine its responsibility in the world, we need to look at the economic state as well. Otherwise we'd be asking the 1Billion+ people of India (still considered a developing nation) to shoulder much of the burden, while the 60 million in Britain to do relatively little.

3 Comments:

At 1:09 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

It isn't that we're intimidated; its just that we're too lazy to sign up for the blogger account.

As far as aid to the tsunami victims goes, I'd rather see our country take a leading role in the Darfur crisis than give, say, another $350 million to tsunami people. $2 billion has already been pledged total, I think they're set.

Like, I don't know much about Darfur, but we should get some boots on the ground if that's what it'll take to stop the killing. Seeing Hotel Rwanda made me upset that we didn't do anything in that situation. It was as much the U.S.'s fault as it was the "international community's".

-Josh

 
At 1:12 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Good point, Jesse - it certainly is true that measuring foreign aid contributions by GDP is fairer than measuring per capita. In defense of my original post, however, I was only comparing the US to other first-world democracies. Thus the India/Britain comparison doesn't really arise, since the per capita GDPs of these countries are all relatively similar, making the two measures of foreign aid contributions relatively analagous.

In fairness though, smaller but still sizable differences do exist between first world GDPs per capita - America's is $37,800, whereas France's is only $27,600, and Britain's is $27,700. The "Ranking the Rich" study I linked to does, I believe, normalize for GDP.

 
At 1:13 PM, Blogger Nick said...

That last comment was me, forgot to sign it.

 

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