How we treat our own

Next City:

About Scot McKnight

Scot McKnight is a recognized authority on the New Testament, early Christianity, and the historical Jesus. McKnight, author of more than fifty books, is the Professor of New Testament at Northern Seminary in Lombard, IL.

  • Andrew Dowling

    Horrible analogy: A) The suffering and poverty in a country like Mali or Somalia makes the poorest parts of Detroit look like Disneyland and B) There are serious geo-political calculations made in terms of the foreign aid distributed. Not that I agree with all of those calculations or their morality, but the aim is not just humanitarian aid but to abet the spread of terrorism/ensure the security of the U.S. and U.S. interests. The U.S. did have an interest in ensuring our domestic auto industry survived (hence the auto bailouts), but not much incentive to prop up a city for the purpose of propping up a city. It would also set a horrible precedent.

    C) Detroit was the victim of economic globalization and a local political culture of kicking cans down the road. Cities throughout history rise and fall . . no city is guaranteed perpetual success.
    D) The “our own” language. Are Christians supposed to be so beholden to nationalistic notions of Americans being somehow more of worth than non-Americans? (and I don’t think the creator of this is doing it from a religious framework; just inserting that argument since its been re-posted here)

  • scotmcknight

    Andrew, no need to exaggerate your rhetoric always for impact. Those who are in Detroit — at least some there — experience federal dollars to foreign countries as this article describes. What I got out of this article was the need to ponder how and why we give to other countries and what kind of giving we are to give to our own fellow citizens and cities. A simpler analogy: giving to others while neglecting the needy in our own house or family.

  • RobS

    I agree with a lot of Andrew’s comment — if we provided huge amounts of aid to cities in the US, that would certainly help guarantee those in power would spend any amount needed to continue to stay elected. The fiscal risk would be ignored because they would know a bailout is coming. (* same goes with supporting bailout of private institutions *)

    Overall, I’m sure any level of spending deserves review to avoid continuous waste, fraud, or abuse patterns.

  • Andrew Dowling

    Forgive my hyperbole . . it’s just my style. Again, I concur much of federal aid (particularly in terms of military aid) is misdirected (and the author then brings up TARP which IMO is a completely different topic). And I agree there should be a conversation about where exactly the money goes . . .all good topics that should be addressed.

    But there is a general distaste for foreign aid in this country which I find troubling (it’s always ranked up as the #1 item of the federal budget people would like cut to fix the debt, although it takes up a figment of a sliver of the total federal budget). And again, if we are talking about humanitarian aid to ease hunger/clean water projects etc. . . that is Kingdom work at the most basic level. We as the world’s major super-power have a moral obligation to assist those in the world who have the least. If one wants to argue for a more robust safety net here in the U.S., then make that argument. Don’t set up foreign aid as the boogeyman to be knocked down.

    And having a more robust safety net is different from simply shelling out money to local city governments who fall on hard times. Places rise and fall. The natural course of things would be for Detroit to simply devolve (and this is happening) into a much smaller city with a much smaller population (thus needing less fiscal resources) as people gradually move elsewhere. I feel for the people who because of various reasons can’t move, but the solution isn’t giving the City of Detroit millions of dollars.

  • Phil Miller

    Maybe the solution is giving money to people so they can afford to move elsewhere. It seems to me that if the city can’t sustain itself through industry any more, propping it up with more money will only prolong the suffering.

  • BrendtWayneWaters

    In reply to your distaste for the “our own” language: While jingoism and xenophobia in the name of Christianity are reprehensible, the proper response is not a blanket global “We Are the World” viewpoint. While it’s a different “our own”, Galatians 6:10 is pretty clear that there are occasions where we are to treat with even greater care those with whom we share a demographic.

  • BradK

    Indeed. The phrase “throwing good money after bad” was one of the first things to come to mind when seeing the infographic.

  • Gloria

    Let’s help our own country first, feed our poor within our own borders, improve education, health care for all, prescription medication coverage for the elderly, etc. etc.
    Kingdom work is not our government giving money to other countries (or our own country, for that matter). Kingdom work comes from our local churches caring for our neighbors near and far.

  • http://lotharlorraine.wordpress.com/ Lothar Lorraine

    This is indeed a terrible situation and it makes me feel bad for I should care much more about such problems.

    A consequence is that people are trying to flee the poor countries to live in the richer ones, and this creates in Western Europe (especially in my native country France) lots of ethnic tensions and also a unhealthy concentration of humans in one certain parts of the world.
    Sadly enough the elite in such African countries are unwilling to return there so that they will still remain poor.
    But I would probably do the same were I they, so I cannot blame them.

    Lothars Sohn – Lothar’s son

    http://lotharlorraine.wordpress.com

  • Aaron Lage

    I think there’s a good reminder here about “how we treat our own” as you suggest, but not based on this information.

    Remember, there is a major difference between a city and a nation. This infographic is comparing *a city* to sovereign *nations*.

    I think it is misleading to make such a comparison. Measuring the flow of money directly from the Fed to a city in aid doesn’t hold up under scrutiny. There are many other benefits that Detroit gets both directly and indirectly from our government – financially and otherwise. I understand there may be more people in many of our cities than some of those nations, but it is understandable to treat sovereign nations differently from cities.

    Last of all, this is not a defense of our Foreign Aid policy. I don’t agree with much of where, when or how the Fed distributes our money. My only point here is that this isn’t an equitable comparison.

  • Randy Gabrielse

    As a Detroit-born life-long Michigander, I find these differences ridiculous, and deeply racist. Having lived in Michigan for 41 of my 45 years, I can say that tThe State of Michigan let Detroit deteriorate as much as it did in part because most of Detroit’s residents and leaders are black. There are many reasons why Detroit is in the position that it is, but one key one is that a former governor of Michigan made a hand-shake deal with then Mayor of Detroit to provide funding, and then backed out of it.

    However, I would like to see just what kind of aid these foreign nations are receiving. My guess is that much of it is in military equipment. Egypt, the second largest recipient of US Aid behind Israel, just received 4 more F16 Fighter Jets as part of our commitment to them.

    I know there used to be an Air National Guard base just outside of the City of Detroit, I lived across the street from it. But I don’t think they could do much with that kind of assistance.

  • Aaron Lage

    With all due respect sir, I don’t think it’s fair to make this a race issue. Well over half of the nations listed on this infographic are African nations. To level that accusation is silly.

    I don’t doubt that there are misappropriated funds and broken promises involved, but race is not and cannot be the overarching issue.

  • Randy Gabrielse

    Aaron,

    You can say that race cannot be the over-arching issue, and I apologize that race became the main issue. The issue I was pointing at is that the vast majority of our “foreign aid” is actually military assistance, some of which is used against the citizens of the nations we send it to.

    But for as long as I can remember, issues about Detroit have been racialized (that is society creates differential opportunities for people based on the color of their skin.) In fact, here in Michigan, “Detroit” has long been recognized as code for “urban” and “black.” See this note regarding http://detroit1701.org/Black-WhiteWall.htm regarding “wall separating blacks from whites”. This is how a white developer secured federal mortgage assistance for his homes back in 1940.

    I would be glad to continue this conversation on email, but it is getting off the track of what Scot intended here.
    drgabrielse@gmail.com


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