America's agenda, while it clearly does not include any real consideration for the welfare of the world outside, excludes most Americans as well, with the notable exception of only the very very rich, who remain the beneficiaries of our tender care.
The World Health Organization proposed last year that poor countries be provided with such basic items as antibiotics and insecticide-treated mosquito nets. If we had backed the proposed program, estimated to save eight million lives each year, our share would have been about $10 billion annually (about a dime a day for each American). The U.S. dismissed the suggestion with little grace.
In contrast and at about the same time, our legislators in Washington enthusiastically joined together in support of the administration's proposal to make permanent the recent repeal of the estate tax, a bounty which will affect only some 3300 families yet cost the country $20 billion in revenue.
So here are our priorities. Faced with a proposal that would save the lives of eight million people every year, many of them children, we balk at the cost. But when asked to give up revenue equal to twice that cost, in order to allow each of 3,300 lucky families to collect its full $16 million inheritance rather than a mere $10 million, we don't hesitate. Leave no heir behind!
[By the way, the foreign aid figures Krugman uses in the column linked above are respectively 11 one hundredths and 13 one hundredths of one percent, and not 11 and 13 percent of our GDP. These are figures which usually shock Americans, who like to think we give away scads of dough to foreigners.]