Should cities donate tax revenues to international emergency aid efforts?

In an editorial at the San Francisco Chronicle today, a worried taxpayer wrote that they opposed the City of San Francisco allocating $150,000 in emergency aid to those affected by the tsunamis and earthquakes of Samoa, Indonesia and the Phillipines. [Read editorial article here]

"It's a goodwill gesture that appeals to the city's spirit of generosity and it recognizes the local immigrant communities from these countries. But it's a misdirection of public money collected for local use." argues the Chronicle Editorial Staff who cites more pressing uses for the funds to meet city needs.

There is certainly merit in the argument: San Francisco is currently experiencing a budget crisis of extreme proportions and doubtless has many other necessary local uses for the money.  But in a city that is particularly vulnerable to natural disasters, is it not just good city policy to "pay it forward" for when they will need the same emergency aid?

The United States and other countries around the globe have recognized the value in providing emergency aid funds to disaster stricken areas.  And other cities in the U.S. are no strangers to foreign aid: Hurricane Katrina victims were the happy recipients of $40 million in foreign emergency aid. 1

Do we leave emergency aid funding to our federal government?  Or is it our duty as global citizens to give funding from the local level? 

What do you think?

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