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How Does U.S. Aid Stack Up?

Carol Adelman

This is a partial transcript from “The O’Reilly Factor,” January 3, 2005, that has been edited for clarity.

BILL O’REILLY, HOST: In the “Impact” segment tonight, the USA has now pledged $350 million in tsunami aid. That will go up, I believe, but how does that stack up against the rest of the world?

Joining us live from Washington, foreign aid expert Carol Adelman, a senior fellow at Hudson Institute. Ms Adelman also worked for the American Red Cross, so she knows the area. First of all, you heard Mr. Korb and Mr. Eagleburger discuss, you know, how we’ve responded as a country to this disaster. Do you have any thoughts on that in general?

CAROL ADELMAN, HUDSTON INSTITUTE: I sure do, Bill. I think Secretary Eagleburger is right on, that America is-and Americans are the most generous people in the world, because the measure that you’re talking about that we’re compared with to other countries is a measure of just government aid. And when you add in our private giving, it’s three and a half times what our government foreign aid is.

And Americans give abroad the way they do domestically, more through private organizations, whereas Europeans don’t. So it’s no way to measure a country’s generosity.

O’REILLY: Yes, and we have a different sort of government here. We have a capitalistic government that’s supposed to raise money based on need. And private donations.

And that’s changed in the last 20 years. It used to be the government did donate more money abroad. And that changed and turned around. And now the private sector and mostly religious organizations as well provide that aid.

All right, let’s go down and give the stats. Japan has really stepped up with $500 million. I’m a bit surprised that they did. Obviously, Japan trying to reassert itself as a power in Asia.

The United States is next at $350 million. We think that will go up. Britain, $96 million, always a very generous nation. Italy, $95 million, again the same as Britain. And Sweden which only has eight million-nine million citizens, up with $80 million.

In contrast, Saudi Arabia only $10 million. And here’s the rest of them. Our pals, the French, $60 million. They have 60 million citizens. You know, it’s, OK, nothing—China, again, with more than a billion citizens, $60 million. Nothing extraordinary.

Canada does step up. Canada a generous nation when it comes to things like this.

But Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, $10 million each. I mean, these are rich nations. Mostly Muslims were killed in this thing. Again, we don’t see a large outpouring of generosity from the Muslim world, do we?

ADELMAN: Not from the stats you’re reading off. And I think they could clearly be doing more. And my guess is probably some of their private relief groups are raising moneys that we just—we haven’t heard from [some of them] as well.
O’REILLY: Yes, I agree with that. But still, you know, Saudi Arabia, $10 million, I mean, Portugal is giving $10 million. It’s a poor country.

ADELMAN: Right.

O’REILLY: Saudi Arabia is a wealthy nation. And again, they just historically do not.

Do you think that the $350 million pledged by the government, that doesn’t count any of the privates, so we’ll be well over $1 billion when the privates kick in, do you think that’s enough?

ADELMAN: Oh, I think that actually that number, too, that $350 million, Bill, is, as you were talking about before, is not even close to what the estimate is. That’s just the money that we’re getting through our existing relief funds. It doesn’t take into account what the costs of our military are. Those carriers, all this staff that’s out there, all those search and rescue planes.

There are some statistics on Hurricane Mitch, which the U.S. stayed in and helped to rebuild after Hurricane Mitch. And we’ve spent almost close to $1 billion.

O’REILLY: Yes, and Hurricane Mitch, to remind everybody, was whipping through Central America a few years ago. We didn’t get any credit for that.

Now Germany, interestingly enough, $27 million, nothing. Germany, you know, a huge industrial nation with 82 million people, not kicking in much at all.

But these countries, again, they’re America’s biggest critics: France, Germany. And they’re just pounding us day in and day out. And they-and when it comes down to crunch time, they don’t have anything to give.

ADELMAN: Yes, they certainly could be giving more. There’s no question about it, because that amount for Germany, even as a percent of its GDP, is smaller than what the U.S. is giving that they are yelling at us for.

O’REILLY: It’s ridiculous. Yes, it’s ridiculous. These countries, they will take the oil for food dollars, but they’re not going to – but look at China. China has giving $60 million. As we said, nothing compared to their population base.

And Taiwan is giving $50 million. Little Taiwan, an island off the coast of China, all right, comes up with $50 million. And China comes up with $60 million. So I’m getting a little tired of all the American bashing all around the world.

It’s got to stop. It won’t stop, but I think our duty here is to let the folks know that we are the most generous nation on earth. After this, it’s well over $1 billion that private and government [money] is going to donate to the tsunami relief.

ADELMAN: Oh, absolutely, Bill.

O’REILLY: You know?

ADELMAN: Yes, yes.

O’REILLY: And with $1 billion, you ought to be able to rebuild some infrastructure. But it will be interesting to see the editorials that go on. Any last words, Mrs. Adelman?

ADELMAN: No. Just that what’s been exciting to read in this- about this disaster if there has to be a silver lining is how the new middle class and how the wealthy in these countries, India and Sri Lanka, are stepping forward. And in many cases, they are the first ones getting to these sites and driving aid and supplies to them.

O’REILLY: Right.

ADELMAN: And that’s a great sign.

O’REILLY: Madam, thank you very much. We appreciate your time.

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