by Chris Bodenner
A reader dissents over an incredibly popular chart we posted comparing federal dollars given to Detroit versus foreign countries:
One fairly serious flaw: That $108.2 million is not the only bit of federal money that Detroit receives. How much is paid out in Social Security, Medicare, Medicaid, and any number of federal subsidy programs? As someone who works in international development, comparing the $670 million spent in Jordan to the $108.2 million of direct federal aid Detroit is receiving hits a nerve. Both of those sums are token amounts in the federal budget. But that $670 million is going towards stabilizing a region where we have serious national security interests. It’s also being used for programs in an entire country which, incidentally, is in the midst of conflict and a developing economy. And, to use another example, the $122 million we spend in Somalia is a tiny amount to spend on development programs that are important contributions to counter-terrorism efforts.
Detroit has a complicated and sad story, for sure. But why exactly is it of strategic importance to the well-being of America that Detroit be kept alive with federal subsidies?
Update from a reader:
I would just add that not only does Detroit get a shit-ton more benefits than that chart indicates, but Israel, Egypt etc. are getting “aid” in the form of money that is, for the most part, turned right back around and spent on American weapons. I wish Israel was a little more grateful for the money it received, and I understand the many reasons to cut foreign aid back given the crises at home, but let’s be clear here: when Israel gets $1b American, it spends the vast majority of that on buying warplanes and missiles from American corporations. The foreign aid given to many of these countries is simply a federal payment to certain major corporate interests, funneled through Jerusalem, Cairo, Amman, etc.