Not Being a Selfish Prick

By Kaytlyn Gillis

America is a land of excess. Americans are known for wanting things to be bigger, faster, and stronger than the latest version. For a country that was built on hard labor as a land of the free, we have quickly become the land of “not good enough”. It’s not even worth purchasing a cell phone or computer anymore, as a new one will hit the shelves the following week. American’s aren’t satisfied. We want it cheaper, we want it faster, and we want it all to ourselves.

Recently, there has been a great deal of controversy about the relief efforts being sent to Haiti after the destruction the country has suffered from the recent earthquake. The Red Cross, as well as many other independent organizations, have combined efforts to help with the devastation that shook the country. Many people have voiced opinions that Americans shouldn’t help others, that we should “take care of our own first”. In fact, a popular mass message on Facebook recently stated just that. This particular message went as far as to say “shame on you America” for helping Haitians, when there are so many underprivileged Americans.

This is a matter of wealth distribution, not ability to provide foreign aid. The United States is one of the wealthiest countries on the planet, even when taking into account the absorbent National Debt. Yes, it is essential that we take care of our own, especially those that are struggling to provide food and medical care to their families. Yes, many families are hurting right now, but it is not because of the money being spent by the US on foreign aid. The US spends a small percentage of its Gross National Income on foreign aid. Some years it has been as low as 2%, according to Therefore, if you deem it necessary to complain about the US spending its “pocket change” to help countries that sometimes struggle simply to find clean water, keep in mind that much larger sums of money are needed to get our country back on track. Go ahead and let your blood boil as you finance another big screen TV. The rest of us will focus on the rich bankers who were “bailed out”, and then took a vacation with the bonus checks they received, for it is these people that are taking away the essential funds that are so desperately needed for our poor and underinsured citizens.

The priorities of our government are the problem, not foreign assistance. It we take away foreign assistance, we are still left with underpaid workers, high priced health care, and a growing unemployment rate. It is the redistribution of wealth with which Americans should be concerned. The gap between the rich and poor is widening by the minute, even though foreign assistance program efforts remain relatively the same. (And thank goodness Reagan and his make-the-rich-richer and the-poor-poorer policies aren’t in the same force as they once were.)

Every day, millions of Americans go more into debt. Plasma TVs, vacations, and other elaborate (and in many cases unnecessary) purchases make up the monthly credit card bills of many of us. At a time when every other commercial is an ad to finance a new car or other big purchase, and our nightly sitcoms are interrupted with ads claiming to teach you how to get out of or consolidate debt, it seems that we should start examining the true financial issues. As a significant amount of the aid being sent to Haiti is from donations given by average Americans, I find no reason to find fault with those who choose to help others.

The US can afford to help other countries in a desperate time of need. Our frustrations should be aimed at those who waste our nation’s money. The Bank Bailout is a perfect example. But we can even go as far as to reexamine why our baseball players are offered millions of dollars a year, along with food and travel allowances, yet our teachers and social workers are underpaid and overworked. Explain to me how it is that foreign aid, of all things, is what is “hurting our own”.


10 Responses

  1. Even if none of the points here were relevant, there is still the fact that to compare the plight of the poor in the US to the living standards of poor people in hellholes like Haiti is ridiculous.

    The people who decry any help to “furriners” are usually the same ones who want the poor in the US to shut up and get a job.

  2. This essay seems a little all over the place. On one hand it criticizes Americans as irresponsible with their personal wealth, and on the other, it suggests we need to come to the aid of those Americans who are suffering – quite possibly because they are irresponsible with their personal wealth.

    I mean is it possible some people are failing to, “provide food and medical care to their families” because they are in debt from buying, ” Plasma TVs, vacations, and other elaborate (and in many cases unnecessary) purchases”?

    And the author doesn’t seem to see the contradiction in noting that while some protest the use of American government aid, Americans themselves are exceedingly generous when it comes to charitable giving – we are in fact the most generous people in the world – and this may be because we see giving as a matter of personal responsibility, not asna product of our required taxes.

    Also it’s notable that in many cases when we are giving aid (as in Haiti) we are sending our military to do much of the work. This doesn’t necessarily count in the ‘foreign aid’ column of giving, but often our military is the best equipped, most responsive organization available to deal with such crisis. So I think we give more than it looks like on paper.

    That being said, I think everyone should strive to be more personally generous with their wealth – not just in ‘official’ ways, but in neighborly ways. Chances are there is someone nearby, a relative or someone in our community, that would benefit much more from one’s personal involvement and investment than they would from a check from the government or a visit with a bureaucrat.

  3. “This has been another message by Supply Side Jesus.”

  4. trog, I appreciate your ability to say something that sounds slightly witty but, means nothing at all, but if you have an ounce of mathematical ability in your bones, you tell me how it is that we continue to increase foreign aid when we have an unfunded liability of $106.4 trillion dollars for SS and Medicare, and a total private net worth as a nation of only $51.5 trillion?

    When you can provide a means to do that, I will personally campaign for you for congress – in the meantime, try actually dealing with the numbers and get back to us when figure it all out.

  5. Oh fuck you, you worthless POS. Take your goddamned numbers and jam them up your ass. You motherfuckers didn’t have any problems rooting on ol’ Dumbya while he decided to go on an all-expenses paid trip through Mesopotamia in order to get re-elected and fulfill Cheney’s former employer’s wet dream account. Then the banking bullshit that continues with the Obama admin. making us forget all about the S&L crisis by dwarfing it. Yet, if there was a threat to the oil/gas pipelines, we sure as shit would find the funds to get that shit straightened out, right?

    I’m sick and tired of rightwing assholes trying to pretend like they didn’t have anything to do with how fucked up things are now. We have the largest divide between the haves and have not fucking things anywhere, and all we hear from you and your ilk is how life isn’t fair, and we should just suck it up and shut up. Well fuck you, you greedy asshole.

  6. So, numbers just aren’t your forté I take it?

  7. I see you’ve got the “Incredible prick” market cornered.

  8. No, just the “responding to those who can’t deal with the facts” market.

    How it is saddling one’s children with 106 trillion dollar debt is ‘unselfish’ is beyond me. I would say it is the epitome of selfishness.

  9. Oh, I’d be stupid to deny the fact that right wing thieves and liars, including the “centrist” Dems who talk a big game while they agreed to deregulate big business and big banks, have done exactly what Norquist was working towards; spend every fucking dime while cutting taxes on the rich, and declare the government broke. Yep, you guys win. Now even if we could somehow help the powerless, you fuckers have made sure that the only ones with power nowadays are the bankers and corporate crooks. And they, just like you, pretend that it’s all the fault of the powerless, because they should have gone in a gotten theirs while the getting was good. Since they’re obviously too lazy, or demon-filled, they can just go rot.

    Congratulations, you preening Christians ; you got what you wanted. I hope you choke on it.

  10. Are you responding to any particular set of facts, or simply prattling off whatever thought comes into your head?

    SS and Medicare were around long before the current healthcare bill, or Iraq or Afghanistan, or de-regulating anything. They are what are burdening our budget and eclipsing all future spending. Even if we hadn’t spent one cent on the military in the last decade, it wouldn’t change this reality. So those are the facts on the ground – I have no idea what you are rambling about.

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