Fifteen cents a day.

That's how much the US goverment spends, per American, on humanitarian aid to foreign countries. It adds up to about 15 billion dollars a year--about 4 billion dollars less than Americans spend on ice cream each year, about half of money we give to Mickey Mouse and .16 percent of the federal budget.

That's not 16 percent, not even 1.6 percent, but .16 of one percent of the US annual budget, according to yesterday's Washington Times, a figure defended by USAID Administrator Andrew Natsios. It's also about 1/20 of what we have spent so far in Iraq.

Private charity is not much better. Less than 3 percent of the 240 billion that Americans give to charities goes to help the estimated 1.9 billion people who live on less than a dollar a day, according to Rich Stearns of World Vision US.

Stearns, along with Jim Wallis, the president of the Covenant Church, and about 14 other Christian leaders from the US, have been pushing the US government to give an additional 2 billion a year (or two cents a day per American) to fighting global poverty.

In a press conference Monday that I covered, Stearn contrasted the medial frenzy over the disappearance of Natalee Hollway with silence over the deaths of thousands of children every day.

Here's a bit from the story I filed:

"But you know, on the same day that Natalee Holloway disappeared, 29,000 other children disappeared as well," Stearns said. "To be more accurate, they died. They died because they were poor. They died because the water they drank was unsafe. They died because they had no food to eat or because they lacked a two-dollar malaria bed net to protect them from malaria. They died because they caught a cold that turned to pneumonia and there was no doctor to see."

But the death of those 29,000 other children didn't draw worldwide attention. That's because "when something happens every day, it's not news," said Stearns.

"The most tragic thing of all is that they didn't need to die. They died because the world chose to look the other way," he said. "We're here today as religious leaders to appeal to the goodness of the American people and to declare that we must not allow ourselves to look the other way in the face of these tragic deaths."

I've got a least two cents today that says I don't want to look the other way any more.

How about you?


Powered by Blogger