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December 30, 2004

Donate

Some links (lifted from Kos):

American Red Cross International Response Fund
AmeriCares South Asia Earthquake Relief Fund
Direct Relief International International Assistance Fund
Médecins Sans Frontières International Tsunami Emergency Appeal
Oxfam Asian Earthquake & Tsunami Fund
Sarvodaya Relief Fund for Tsunami Tragedy
UNICEF South Asia Tsunami Relief Efforts

Sound of one hand slapping forehead

A Rush Limbaugh caller wants to know where all the foreign aid from other countries for America was during the Florida hurricanes.

....Mark C. picks up the ball and runs with it:

OK all you Limbaugh listeners, try to follow along at home as I walk you through this. No matter what you've heard, the US is a very, very wealthy nation. The per capita income in the US is about $35,000. Hurricane Charley hit on Friday, August 13th. By Tuesday, August 17th, FEMA had already issued more than $2 million in checks for disaster relief. Ten days later President Bush asked Congress for $2 billion dollars for aid (he wasn't on vacation then, and its possible that the election had something to do with the amount). Since then the Small Business Administration alone has provided more than $1 billion to Florida businesses to fix hurricane damage.

Meanwhile, Malaysia's per capita income is $3,550, Thailand's is $2,000, Sri Lanka's is $850, India's is $450. The US poverty level for an individual with no children is just over $9,000.

There's more, go read.

Are we stingy?--part two

In a word, yes.

President Bush finally roused himself yesterday from his vacation in Crawford, Tex., to telephone his sympathy to the leaders of India, Sri Lanka, Thailand and Indonesia, and to speak publicly about the devastation of Sunday's tsunamis in Asia. He also hurried to put as much distance as possible between himself and America's initial measly aid offer of $15 million, and he took issue with an earlier statement by the United Nations' emergency relief coordinator, Jan Egeland, who had called the overall aid efforts by rich Western nations "stingy." "The person who made that statement was very misguided and ill informed," the president said.

--snip--

The American aid figure for the current disaster is now $35 million, and we applaud Mr. Bush's turnaround. But $35 million remains a miserly drop in the bucket, and is in keeping with the pitiful amount of the United States budget that we allocate for nonmilitary foreign aid. According to a poll, most Americans believe the United States spends 24 percent of its budget on aid to poor countries; it actually spends well under a quarter of 1 percent.

Bush administration officials help create that perception gap. Fuming at the charge of stinginess, Mr. Powell pointed to disaster relief and said the United States "has given more aid in the last four years than any other nation or combination of nations in the world." But for development aid, America gave $16.2 billion in 2003; the European Union gave $37.1 billion. In 2002, those numbers were $13.2 billion for America, and $29.9 billion for Europe.

Making things worse, we often pledge more money than we actually deliver. Victims of the earthquake in Bam, Iran, a year ago are still living in tents because aid, including ours, has not materialized in the amounts pledged. And back in 2002, Mr. Bush announced his Millennium Challenge account to give African countries development assistance of up to $5 billion a year, but the account has yet to disperse a single dollar.

Are we stingy?

I'm going to quote my friend Bob at length here. But I'm not cutting-and-pasting all his links, so be sure to click through. And scroll down, he's also listed a number of organizations to which you can donate.

Writing from Tasmania, which is a great place I'd love to write more about and surely will someday.  But I just don't feel like it right now.

I wish I knew how to do more to help the people who need it right this minute.  I wish I knew how to get my government to behave without its usual level of shameless self-absorption and shortsightedness.

$35 million.  Swell.

The death toll is rapidly approaching six digits -- imagine 30 September 11ths, if you wish, with all the sudden speed, chaos, and complete wreckage of human life that entails -- with the number of affected people surely ten times that high.  And the richest country in the world, the one which believes itself to be singular among nations (thus ironically fulfilling the notion before the neurons have even cooled), can only muster a few dollars per life destroyed.

What's $35 million?

The amount it takes to fix up one park in Pittsburgh.

It's exactly one new school in Montclair, New Jersey.

It's what Dick Cheney put in his own back pocket by ditching his Halliburton stock.

And it's one four-thousandth of what the U.S. has spent invading and occupying Iraq.

Tens of thousands of dead in a dozen countries on two continents, after a disaster so large it literally changed the map of Indonesia and completely obliterated the southernmost tip of India.

Survival infrastructures are simply gone now in many places.  Famine and pestilence are likely to take at least as many lives if the rest of us fellow humans don't do enough to help right now.

$35 million.  George W. Bush is telling the largest Muslim nation on Earth that the massive destruction in Aceh is worth less than the United States spends on occupying Iraq every day.

Obscenity.

--------------------

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