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As an addendum to Half Sigma’s paean to Japan, a reason I’m a favorably inclined comes from the WVS. The fifth and most recent wave includes a question querying respondents on how they feel about their respective countries providing foreign aid. Specifics aren’t given, and the amount is simply .1% of each respective country’s “national income” (stated on a per capita basis so as not to skew the results towards a larger population leading to less putative generosity), so it’s basically a measure of magnanimity towards the rest of the world at the expense of the homeland’s fiscal health. The following table ranks countries in which the question was asked (the affluent ones plus, oddly, Thailand) by what I’ll call a sucker index, computed by simply taking the percentage of people who think that defined amount is “too low” and subtracting from it the percentage who deem it “too high”:

Country Sucker score
1) Andorra 70.5
2) Switzerland 45.9
3) Spain 45.5
4) Sweden 43.6
5) Norway 38.3
6) Australia 31.0
7) Finland 29.5
8) Canada 27.4
9) Germany 20.6
10) Thailand 9.9
11) United States 8.5
12) Japan (1.6)

Germany’s nicer than we are and they still get called Nazis by Greeks with their hands out. Time for us to start listening to Rand Paul and for the West to start sharing more of the Japanese sentiment.

WVS variables used: V175

(Republished from The Audacious Epigone by permission of author or representative)
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  1. Americans say that they do not like foreign aid: it is the only item of the federal budget for which opinion polls show consistently majorities in favor of reduction.

    But which nation is the largest recipient of American aid? That's right, You Know Who. Polls show that pluralities or majorities of Americans (the numbers fluctuate based on events in the Near East) are favorably disposed toward this lucky ducky beneficiary. AFAICT, the segment of our population least favorably disposed to foreign aid in general — "Jacksonian" megachurch-goin' FOX/Limbaugh Bible Belters — is among the most stridently in favor of foreign aid for You Know Who in particular (aside from, of course, You Know Who's ethnic diaspora).

    I would like to see a poll giving respondents accurate figures of the level of American largesse for this other country, including indirect as well as direct benefits, in addition to figures on this other country's wealth, and then see if Americans are still in favor of aid for You Know Who. I do not think that most people understand how extravagant our aid to this beneficiary is relative to its small size and considerable wealth.

    And, needless to say, most Americans do not understand how paltry foreign aid is as a fraction of our budget compared with the things that are the real fiscal problems.

  2. Sucker index.


    100% of foreign aid should be in the form of birth control.

    If they can't provide for their people, then they have too many people. They need to have fewer as quickly and humanely as possible.

  3. Germany's nicer than we are and they still get called Nazis by Greeks with their hands out

    Switzerland is even nicer than Germany, and they get called Nazis because they stayed out of the insanity of World War II, allegedly stole Jews' gold (or whatever; never mind all the Jewish and gentile refugees from Nazism who fled to Switzerland), banned new minarets, and let citizens vote on giving citizenship to immigrants.

    The "generosity" of bankrupt Spain is amusing. They also stayed out of WW2, Franco liked Hitler, and there was the Inquisition.

    So many generous Nazis. A real head-scratcher.

  4. "Switzerland…get called Nazis because"

    Because they are racially-European by ancestry. It's really that simple.

  5. Noah,

    This page shows per capita official foreign aid received from the US by country. You Know Who is a close second, behind only Afghanistan. The next closest, Haiti, doesn't even receive half what Israel does.

  6. AE,

    Thanks for the table. Some context:

    Afghanistan's aid is recent and, presumably, temporary. Iraq also got large amounts during our occupation, and now that has dwindled since we drew down and then left.

    Israel's cumulative direct aid over the last ~35 years has been something like $150 billion(unadjusted). Israel also gets huge indirect benefits: loan guarantees, including for illegal settlements in the West Bank; partial exemptions from US military aid rules requiring that foreign militaries must use American funds to purchase weapons from American producers; a 1985 free trade agreement which has led to a cumulative trade deficit, for us, of ~100 billion dollars (unadjusted) — quite a sum for such a tiny place; and so on.

  7. Wait a minute, I don't understand the table. The sucker index is (% who think 0.1% GDP is too high to donate) – (% who think 0.1% GDP is too low to donate), right? And if someone thinks it's too much to donate, they're basically more selfish, right? So if 80% of people think it's too much, and 20% thing it's too little, the index is 80% – 20% = 60%. It seems to me that a higher score indicates greater selfishness. What am I misunderstanding here?

  8. JI,

    It's (% thinking it's too low) – (% thinking it's too high).

  9. Gotacha'. Thanks, AE.

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