Wednesday, December 29, 2004

What Egeland really said

Don't like to get your spin from the idiots? I transcribed the pertinent part of the UN press conference Monday -- the one with undersecretary Jan Egeland that got so many chuckleheads' panties in a bunch. See how offended you are after reading this.

Q: When you were talking about donor countries that in a growing economy were giving less, were you prepared to name them?

A: Now, well, I’d rather say that it is remarkable that we have no country up to the one percent line of foreign assistance in general. And we have I think three Scandinavians that have exceeded -- and Holland -- the 0.7 line of gross national income for assistance. We were more generous when we were less rich, many of the rich countries. And it is beyond me why are we so stingy, really. And even in Christmastime should remind many western countries at least how rich we have become. And, actually, the foreign assistance of many countries now is 0.1 or 0.2 percent of the gross national income. I think that is stingy, really, I don’t think that is very generous.

And I have an additional point. Politicians do not understand their own populations. Because all the populations in the United States, in the European Union, in Norway, which is number one in the world, we want to give more, as voters, as taxpayers. People say we should give what we give now or more. Politicians and parliamentarians believe that they are really burdening the taxpayers too much, and the taxpayers want to give less. It’s not true. They want to give more.
Now, you could argue that it was impolitic of the UN official to lecture the West, including the US, about its foreign assistance budget at a time of crisis. But you can't argue that it is a completely different point from criticizing the US for its aid for the disaster, which is exactly what the Washington Times headline wants you to believe ("U.N. official slams U.S. as 'stingy' over aid"), and that the body of the article "suggests"-- their weasel word -- just this fact. But read what Egeland is saying. He is using this as a forum for criticizing the entire West's overall foreign aid budgets. And he's right. Note that he's also saying that the non-politicians "want to give more."

Of course, this doesn't stop others from scoring hilariouis points on the lie that Egeland said that all Americans are stingy.

The Washington Times also adds this kicker:

Mr. Egeland complained that the United States gives only 0.14 percent of its gross domestic product to foreign development aid, compared with 0.92 percent given by his native Norway. In this category, Norway ranks first and the United States ranks last on a list of 22 industrialized nations compiled by the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development.

They do not provide a quote for this claim. I listened to the entire 48-minute press conference. He does not ever mention that the United States gives .14 percent of its gross domestic product. Perhaps Mr. Sammon or someone else spoke to Mr. Egeland afterward? I'd be interested to know.

Permalink posted by Jonathan : 9:25 PM

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