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Tuesday, Sep. 16, 2014

Looking at source behind the giving

Wednesday, June 6, 2012

The Pope last week proposed that rich families should help poor people in other countries. His charitable message was well received.

But surely he wasn't speaking to the United States.

Through our foreign aid program, the United States is hands-down the most charitable country in history. Our nation provides well over $55 billion in annual foreign aid and most of that is for economic support to help feed those who cannot feed themselves.

Plus private aid from this country - foundations, religious groups and corporations - provides another $25 billion in aid to other countries.

The charitable foreign aid program begun to help European countries devastated following World War I is one of the hallmarks of our national charitable spirit.

Unlike the Pope's proposal, rich families don't directly provide financial aid to poor families in other countries.

But since the rich pay the lion's share of the taxes that fund our foreign aid program, the result is virtually the same.

The foreign aid that started as a humanitarian program to feed other countries who had suffered in wars has now morphed into a program to prop up nations threatened by forces unfriendly to the United States.

Originally, the United States funded food programs in other countries so they could use those funds to buy goods from our country.

Increasingly, we produce less goods to provide.

I am no isolationist opposed to foreign aid. Quite the opposite, I believe this nation has a unique purpose to help others at home and abroad.

But some would portray our nation as a greedy cesspool of rich people with no charitable spirit toward those less fortunate.

If you paint that portrait long enough, you foster class warfare that now shrouds our nation.

Are there exceptions? Of course. Is there greed? Yes. Do some escape their "fair share" ? Without a doubt.

But when we use a broad brush to damn an entire segment of the population, we create battle lines that are just simply wrong.

The Pope's message was not about government foreign aid. It was about compassion and charity.

It would have been appropriate to cite the United States as the leading example of that charitable spirit - led by those who pay the taxes to provide that helping hand.

I don't write in defense of the rich. They can defend themselves.

I write to address the myth - perpetuated by those who benefit from class warfare - that all people of means are greedy and evil and lack compassion and charity.

The facts show otherwise.

Michael Jensen
Michael Jensen