Foreign Aid Redux

FOREIGN AID REDUX….As I was writing the post just below, I came across this Q&A from the Council on Foreign Relations:

Do Americans understand how much of the U.S. budget goes to foreign aid?
No. A 2001 poll sponsored by the University of Maryland showed that most Americans think the United States spends about 24 percent of its annual budget on foreign aid?more than 24 times the actual figure.

Do Americans support increasing foreign aid?
Yes. According to [a University of Maryland poll], the typical American would like to spend $1 on foreign aid for every $3 spent on defense; the real ratio in the proposed budget for fiscal year 2003 is $1 on aid for every $19 spent on defense.

24%! The average American thinks we spend a quarter of the federal budget on foreign aid!

The ignorance of Americans about the real world never ceases to amaze me. Ask them what percent of the population is black and they guess it’s about a third. Ask them how much they pay in income taxes, and they figure about 50%. Ask them how big the foreign aid budget is and they’re off by a factor of 24.

Is it any wonder our political decisions are so screwed up?

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