When Americans are asked what percentage of the federal budget is spent on foreign aid, the average answer is 28 percent. The real answer is around 1 percent.
Before we start mocking the estimation skills of our fellow citizens, I have a similar question for my fellow conservatives: What percent of federal budget goes to programs that provide aid (other than health insurance or Social Security benefits) to individuals and families facing hardship?
Would you say 40 percent? 30 percent? 20 percent?
The actual answer is 12 percent, or $398 billion.
Could the amount of money donated to private charities cover the substitution cost for the social safety net? The short answer is: it’s not even close. As AEI president Arthur Brooks explains,