Though Americans may not realize it, Americans are the largest recipients of financial assistance of anyone in the world. The trade deficit is reported to have hit an all time record high of $725 billion for 2005.
What this means, exactly, is that Americans received 725 billion dollars of "aid" in 2005 from the rest of the world. The $725 billion is essentially a loan that has gone out to the American public. This loan comes out to an average of $2,448 per person in America, but that doesn't really tell the picture because that is based on dividing the total deficit by the total population. Obviously children don't directly purchase goods, so the cost can't accurately be distributed among them, and not every individual has received an equal distribution of this aid. I don't have the data needed to determine who, exactly, has received more of this aid, but obviously those who have purchased more have directly received more aid than those that don't purchase much.
That doesn't give the whole story either however, because sellers of goods are also indirect beneficiaries of the aid as well. In this case, individuals take on the loan, but sellers get compensation.
Here is the bottom line, however: Americans receive more financial aid from the rest of the world than people in any other country. Americans are bigger receivers of "charity" than the poorest people of Africa or South America.
Additionally, many people have claimed that the cause of the trade deficit has something to do with the way that China values it's currency, or the fact that wages are so much lower in developing nations, etc., but in 2003 Germany became the world's leading exporter and has gained in its lead in that position for the past 2 years. German wages and compensation to workers are higher than the compensation to American workers. Additionally, many have claimed that the problems facing the US auto industry are because of unions, wages, pensions, and healthcare coverage, but auto workers in Japan and Germany have more job security, higher compensation, and better retirement benefits, yet Japan is consistently expanding its market share and efficiency. "Incidentally", the ratio of executive compensation to "blue collar" compensation in Japan is much lower than it is in America. In other words, executives get less pay and workers get more pay in Japan than they do in America. In 2000 the ratio of executive compensation to worker compensation for American executives was 475 to 1, for Japanese executives the ratio was 11 o 1.
So, what is going on here? America is becoming increasingly less competitive economically, yet the leaders of our economy are being paid orders of magnitude more than the leaders of the economies that are out competing American companies. American workers are increasingly living off of global charity as the products of their labor are also increasingly being redistributed to executives and shareholders. Ultimately, workers from around the planet are subsidizing both American workers and American executives and shareholders, but by far executives and shareholders are getting the better deal. Not only are they getting the better deal, but the they have been able to transfer the debt load onto the American working class, as corporations now have record levels of cash on hand while American families now have record levels of debt.
Compare the trade deficit to the donations given by America. In 2002 charitable giving from the United States hit a record high of $241 billion overall. This figure includes both private and governmental giving. I don't have the latest data for 2005, which may have set a new record, but its safe to assume that the figure is less than $725 billion. The United States government gives about $15 billion a year in foreign aid, but most almost all of this aid goes to other governments, and much of the money actually works against the interests of citizens, therefore harming people more than helping them. This is part of the point, though. America foreign aid is like money from lobbyists, and there is indeed a link between our trade deficit and our foreign aid. Just like lobbyists pay politicians millions to receive hundreds of millions in benefits for their interests (there is an average rate of return of $100 for every dollar spent on lobbying), the American government pays other governments to receive aid as well, and this is indeed a part of how the American people, but more importantly American corporations, get such huge financial assistance from the world.
The American way of life is heavily subsidized by the global population, and indeed American foreign aid should be seen as a type of lobbying of foreign governments to get benefits for America from the populations that the governments rule. The biggest delusion, however, is that Americans give charity to the rest of the world. In fact, the world is giving charity to America. The American trade deficit exceeds all charitable giving from America to the rest of the world and that doesn't even begin to explain the issue. That doesn't even touch on how much America underpays foreign workers or the deals by which America is able to acquire raw materials such as oil, metals, and timber from countries at below market values.
Overall, total American giving to the rest of the world is a small fraction of the financial assistance given to America by foreign peoples. In fact, America could stop all foreign giving, both public and private, and lift much of the world out of poverty if Americans would just pay off debt and give foreign workers fair compensation. Why does the American government give foreign aid to countries where American corporations pay workers fifty cents a hour to work? Simply paying the people decent wages would alleviate the need for the foreign aid... but then, that's really what the foreign aid is buying after all, the foreign aid is paid to the governments to help secure beneficial economic agreements for American corporations.
Corporations lobby the American government with millions, causing politicians to spend billions lobbying foreign governments with "foreign aid" on behalf of American corporations, who in turn give favorable terms to American corporations and enforce laws that protect American corporate interests at the expense of their own local populations and workers.
There certainly is no doubt, America is the largest charity case in the world. Of course life is great in America, every American today is receiving thousand of dollars a year in financial assistance from the rest of the world.
For further details see: