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The US’s shameful response

…both on a per capita basis and as a percentage of the nation’s wealth, America’s emergency relief in Asia and development aid to poor countries actually ranks at the bottom of the list of developed nations…

…As of yesterday, the amount the United States has pledged is eclipsed by the $96 million promised by Britain, a country with one-fifth the population, and by the $75 million vowed by Sweden, which amounts to $8.40 for each of its 9 million people. Denmark’s pledge of $15.6 million amounts to roughly $2.90 per capita.

The US donation is 12 cents per capita.

So says an article in the Boston Globe. We have donated what we spend in five hours in Iraq.

Let’s call our representatives (Congress, Senate) and to see if we can aim high and beat Sweden by pledging $3 billion. And here’s a tip: If your Congressperson or Senator is a Republican, tell him/her that donating lots of money is a crucial tactic in the war against terror. It’s no joke.

[Congressional offices seem to be closed today. Sigh.]

36 Responses to “The US’s shameful response”

  1. I see you utterly ignore the aid being posted from private sources. Is that because

    — only public money counts for some reason?
    — You don’t actually know how much private aid flows from the US?

    On an annual basis, more aid flows from the US than from anywhere else on the planet – whether you count by GDP or by raw amount. If you ratchet up the government aid (i.e., by either raising taxes or borrowing more) – you’ll actually lower the amount of private aid.

  2. Do you see this as a contest or auction wherein each country tries to outdo the others? This thought seems to treat the disaster as a P.R. opportunity. As Mr Robertson says, individual sources have always been the major component of humanitarian aid in this country.

  3. The US is in a position to save lives. $35M is scandalously stingy. James and Norm, if you’re Americans, are you proud of our government for pledging such a pittance given the relative wealth of our country? I’m not.

    James, while increasing gov’t spending might well decrease private donations – although I’d like to see some evidence about this, since having our gov’t take the disaster seriously might also increase private donations – the question is whether doing so would increase overall donations. I’m willing to bet that it would.

  4. Has anyone collected data on this, or is it one evangelist’s word against another’s? I hear this “individual Americans make up for the American government’s stinginess” and I wonder.

    • Is anyone actually counting?
    • If we’re counting private Americans “for America” are we also counting private Germans “for Germany”, etc.?
    • Do individuals give more to make up for their shabby government offering (essentially taking the responsibility that the Administration doesn’t)?
    • Do individuals give less because their representative government clearly doesn’t take the problem seriously?

    In any case, what I’d really like to see is a reference to some hard numbers. I’m not against comparing the size of America’s heart to the size of the Grinch’s heart (for crass entertainment purposes only), but I’d really like to get the measurements right before we move on to wringing our souls and examining our handouts.

  5. Let’s see:

    I donated money to the Red Cross, into the fund they set up for this.

    You whined that there wasn’t enough government aid being sent ($350M at last count, btw).

    Who’s actually helped?

    As to public donations reducing private ones? If my taxes go up, my disposable income goes down. Which part of my income do charitable donations come from? Heres a hint – it’s not the part that pays my mortgage…

  6. Reuters is reporting that the U.S. has just bumped its aid commitment to $350-million.

  7. The US’s shameful response

    Via David Weinberger:

    on a per capita basis and as a percentage of the nation’s wealth,
    America’s emergency relief in Asia and development aid to poor

  8. Aid to Asia: relative generosity, governmetal aid

    Japan pledged up to $500 million in grant aid for tsunami disaster relief on Saturday, Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi announced, making the country the largest single donor to victims of the catastrophe. The Japanese announcement came a day after Pre…

  9. What we are seeing in the chatter about charity for tsunami victims is a dynamic tension that exists on the right — the Ayn Rand-ists who insist on every individual pulling themselves up by the bootstraps, no matter the context (i.e., Grover Norquist), and the Christian Coalition, which believes that anything and everything, government and private, should be driven by Christian fundamentalist morals (i.e., James Dobson et al). Both are subsets of the conservative right, yet there exists a conflict between them. The “centrists” between them (for lack of a better word) are pragmatists like Karl Rove, those who’ll spin either side to obtain power; we won’t see much chatter from these folks since it’s not in their best interests…

    I have to ask Rand-ists whether there is a unifying human morality that overrides their “I’ve got mine, piss off and get your own” attitude, as well as an efficiency inherent in some organizational structures over others (government over a multitude of NGO’s with possibly conflicting missions). In the case of the Christian Coalition, I have to ask whether a nation that offers aid to those in dire need without proselytizing isn’t already acting within Christ’s Beatitudes?

    It’s a pity that it takes a human tragedy of such magnitude to rip away the masks and reveal what lies beneath.

  10. A shameful response to the US’s shameful response

    David Weinberger posted last night about the shockingly small amount of money the United States was pledging to the Tsunami victims. I posted about it br

  11. JR (James Robertson),

    If your disposable income goes down because your taxes to up, hopefully you wont have to worry so much about making a private donation because our government will be more likely to make one on your behalf. Anyway, Dave asks you for evidence that government contributions would reduce private contributions. But you do not offer any evidence. Instead, you very condescendingly provide a conjecture:

    “Which part of my income do charitable donations come from? [sic]Heres a hint – it’s not the part that pays my mortgage”

    First of all, there isn’t necessarily an inverse relationship between increased taxes and disposable income. In fact, our economy may well falter under the enormous amount of debt that we carry partially as a result of the decreased tax revenue coming in. When and if that happens, we will see that the tax cuts were actually quite foolish. Why do you think the Euro is doing so well? Wouldn’t have anything to do with the fact that the EU actually works would it?

    Have you ever considered that if your taxes went up, maybe your government could afford a more generous contribution? Additionally, accepting your argument that your disposable income would go down, you would just have to better prioritize your money better with whatever disposable income you had. After all, it is disposable, right?

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