Thursday, December 30, 2004
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Regarding the "stinginess" of American aid
Every time I think I'm out on sabbatical, the blogosphere pulls me back in.
Virginia Postrel has kindly requested a comment from me on the kerfuffle* -- fueled today by the New York Times editorial page, no less -- over "whether the U.S. is 'stingy' with disaster aid." Similarly, Eugene Volokh posts the following:
I've blogged on the topic, and written elsewhere about it. More importantly, I'm on the Board of Advisors for the Center for Global Development's Ranking the Rich exercise, which means I've seen a lot of these debates in the past. So I guess I have a duty to fill the information gap here. So here goes:
*A final note: Matthew Yglesias correctly points out that the comment triggering the whole debate was not aimed specifically at the United States:
Here's the actual quote from Bill Sammon's Washington Times piece with the disingenuous headline, "U.N. official slams U.S. as 'stingy' over aid.":
It's clear that Egeland was indicting most of the OECD countries -- i.e., those not from Scandinavia. Egeland reiterated this point a day later:
Again the Washington Times goes with a U.S.-centric headline: "U.N. official backtracks after calling U.S. 'stingy'" -- but in this case there's a better justification, since Colin Powell was quoted as interpreting the remark in a manner similar to the right half of the blogosphere.
As to whether the rich countries are collectively stingy -- or wish he could pay more in taxes for development aid -- I'll leave that debate to the commenters.
UPDATE: This Heritage Foundation WebMemo by Brett Schaefer says that "the transcript of his [Egelend's] comments clearly identifies the U.S. as the primary target." If that was indeed true, it would explain the Washington Times headlines. However, none of these clear identifications show up in the attributed quotes in the Times piece, which made me want to check out the actual transcript.
Click here for the video of Egelend's press conference on Monday and draw your own conclusions. I've listened to the relevant portions of the transcript (go to 30:57 and 40:39) and my anti-American radar most certainly did not go off. Schaefer's radar might be overly... sensitive.posted by Dan on 12.30.04 at 11:31 AM
I just wanted to put something out here.
I find it a shockingly European point of view that people want to help, but without the government to forcibly confiscate their money and spend it for them they just cant figure out how. It tells you how far down the socialist garden path much of Europe has gone when its citizens literally dont understand the concept of private charity anymore. Disturbing, but doubtless the statists are happy about it.posted by: Mark Buehner on 12.30.04 at 11:31 AM [permalink]
Jennifer, not to be too flip but I think the answer is pretty straight forward. The Tsunami fits comfortably into the UN worldview that SUVs and global warming have angered the mighty Posiedon and hence the slovenly West should rightly pay for their sins. Darfur forces the UN to face up to the incoherance of their worldview; they have no desire to dwell on the fact that until a peace is somehow imposed any aid will simply and inevitably fall into the hands of the oppresors, thereby enabling them. The UN types have no desire to sort out that mess of a dilemna.posted by: Mark Buehner on 12.30.04 at 11:31 AM [permalink]
Re: Egland's original comments.
I too wondered why Egland was assumed to be referring to the US in particular, when the quotes given in the AP story seemed to be general. However, the Washington Times (via Jeff Jarvis) has the following to say:
'Despite his claim of being "misinterpreted," a review of the transcript of Mr. Egeland's initial press briefing confirms that he asked reporters at the United Nations why Western countries are "so stingy" and specifically cited the United States as an example of a country whose citizens want to pay more taxes so that foreign aid can be increased.
This makes it sound like Eglund was specifically trying to point to the US as a main culprit in the stinginess stakes.posted by: C.S. Froning on 12.30.04 at 11:31 AM [permalink]
Dr. Drezner, nice to hear from you, but you really should stay away and get the most out of your sabbatical!
This whole kerfuffle is a bit unseemly, isn't it? I think the remark by the U.N. official was a bit tin-eared, really, no matter whom the intended target. Catch more flies with honey than vinegar (or maybe not. Maybe public shaming is the best fly catcher of all? We all have our theories.)
I think the West has responded well so far, but only time will tell. Pledges are one thing, action is another. We have a physician at our hospital who is collecting many items and will take off on the first for Sri Lanka (I'm sure there are others going from this hospital, this is the only one I know about). I'm glad he's going and I'm glad most people are being so generous. Except for the stingy, cranky, crabby, vinegary old souls who can only see consipiracy, partisanship (or nationalism), and a chance to score points. Phuey to you!
Oh, and P.S. Why don't actual dollar amounts matter and only percentages of GDP? In practical terms, I mean. It takes something to make all that extra money that we generate so that we can give the most actual dollar amounts. And also, could this have to do with the scepticism that many in the US have with foreign aid being misused? Why throw good money after bad?posted by: MD on 12.30.04 at 11:31 AM [permalink]
Where did you get the idea that europeans don't know how to donate money ?
There are plenty of private charity appeals currently ongoing in Europe raising tens of millions of euros for relief.
Even the most cursory google would have relieved your shock........posted by: kenny on 12.30.04 at 11:31 AM [permalink]
Kenny, i wasnt addressing every European, i was adressing the views as expressed by this particular individual, who was assumedly sent to the UN to represent of his nation.
Specifically what he said:
I dont see how you cant come to my conclusion. If a person wants to give more, but the government 'wont let them' because they wont tax them enough, what does that mean? Isnt that representative of a point of view where it never occured to him that there just might be other avenues to contribute besides taxation?posted by: Mark Buehner on 12.30.04 at 11:31 AM [permalink]
I took it to mean that some countries had cut their aid budget even though their taxpayers didn't actually want the Aid budget to be cut, and that the donor governments should listen to their voters a bit more on the subject.posted by: kenny on 12.30.04 at 11:31 AM [permalink]
Does anybody know where to find this data with this particular question resolved?
posted by: Josh Yelon on 12.30.04 at 11:31 AM [permalink]
Clear enough?posted by: Fightin Irish on 12.30.04 at 11:31 AM [permalink]
If anyone's curious -- the key exchange occurs at 40:39 in the video.posted by: JBT on 12.30.04 at 11:31 AM [permalink]
Well done, sir, and thanks for the info.posted by: praktike on 12.30.04 at 11:31 AM [permalink]
Some thoughts on your question about the tsunami and Darfur.
I find it quite amusing that those who are taking issue with the characterization of the comments of the UN Undersecratary are playing all the word games they can to somehow demonstrate that those who rightly characterized the comments as insulting to the United States are the ones being ‘disingenuous’.
Perhaps a cursory google search would demonstrate just how laser-like their perception of what is inferred by public figures can be when they choose to use it on someone they deem as an adversary rather than an ally. One might want to see how they just knew, unquestionably, that a certain Senate leader was referring to the segregationist past of another when he was praising an old man at his 100th birthday though mention of any specifics could be found in the comments.
It seems that all commentators tend to be nationalist/Ameri-centric or partisan when it fits them. In this case it does work both ways, but the defense of the UN’s Undersecratary’s statements seem a bit much.
Jennifer does bring up a good point: While the aftermath of a natural disaster leaves little for those who would give aid to do save throw money at the region and help clean up, the situation in Sudan is much different and presents many opportunities for all countries (not just the rich ones) to affect a positive outcome by possibly doing little more than uttering a few words of criticism. It would appear that certain member governments of the UN have been rather “stingy” with their words in the face of equally appalling though eminently preventable deaths in Dafur.
Before long the death tolls will be roughly equivalent. The UN could have done nothing to save the victims of one tragedy but could present a litany of options for preventing the second. To its detriment and further humiliation the organization has chosen the familiar path of ignoring that which should have been its priority months ago.
I've donated some to this tragedy (through Amazon) and even though I am not american I consider this donation to be american. I earn my living here, pay my taxes here, and so on. I am not sure I would be able to help other people otherwise.
I think you miss the point of Jennifer’s comment by linking them solely to humanitarian aid and time constraints.
1) There is no food product that I know of that can save a refugee from marauding militia and/or government forces.
2) The deaths that may occur in the coming days due to delays in shipping food and medicine to South East Asia are as equally urgent and preventable as those who will perish in Dafur through want of stern words and a united front by the organization.
The deaths in SEA were almost entirely unavoidable…those in Dafur, by contrast, were almost entirely preventable.
Maybe, in the wake of Rwanda, Bosnia, and Kosovo, the UN could act PRO-actively rather than RE-actively.
***To be cynical: Considering that the United States has been one of if not the most vocal proponent of action concerning Dafur would it not have made sense for the UN to capitalize on that for positive effect in Dafur. After all, as the world learned in Iraq, if this US Presidents gets behind something and promises to act, with force if necessary, wouldn’t that have given considerable weight to and threat of action that might have been issued should the situation not be improved?...thereby increasing substantially the likelihood that force need not be used and a humanitarian disaster be averted almost entirely.
I wonder how accurate these numbers on private donations really are. Does it count all private donations even the ones to institutions inside their own country? Does it take into consideration huge donations like Bill Gate's and others?posted by: Edward on 12.30.04 at 11:31 AM [permalink]
Edward: yes, I see your point - you're right. Money given by residents should count as money given by America.posted by: Josh Yelon on 12.30.04 at 11:31 AM [permalink]
"Nor does it include the category of food aid, where the United States is the largest donor in the world..."
This has been an oft used quote for the last two days. I would suggest alittle research, rather than a simple parroting. A great deal of our food donations are excess foodstuffs that the govt has bought up in a sort of subsidy to various sectors of the US agricultural community. The US govt would be buying it anyway and conceivably be throwing it into landfills if we did not ship it abroad. Yes, it is still a donation, but let's have some perspective. I'll hunt for some good links on our strange food donation system.posted by: joanne on 12.30.04 at 11:31 AM [permalink]
On the Jen question,
When the state is the source of starvation and displacement, providing the victims with food and shelter can be a form of subsidy, enabling the regime to direct its resources to whatever corrupt and inhumane activity motivates it (probably weapons). Such a state must either be persuaded, dismantled or accepted.posted by: PD Shaw on 12.30.04 at 11:31 AM [permalink]
The Times editorial blithely states. "According to a poll..."
Does anyone have any idea which poll they may be referring to?posted by: Gerard Van der Leun on 12.30.04 at 11:31 AM [permalink]
Gerard;posted by: Einar on 12.30.04 at 11:31 AM [permalink]
I'm no economist but - I am under the impression that over there they have this thing called the European Union? It's like a US of Europe without the White House and stuff? And that that group acts as a whole in some circumstances, so that the EU has donated X-beaucoup-euros in addition to the somewhat less x-euros donated by the member nations themselves?
Bucky -- the country calculations regarding aid include contributions to multilateral aid agencies, such as the World Bank and the European Commission.
In other words, the aid rankings include European contributions to the EU's aid budget.posted by: Dan Drezner on 12.30.04 at 11:31 AM [permalink]
"Out of the 21 major donors, we're ninth -- hardly stingy, though not the most generous."
So the world's richest nation is the ninth largest donor and that's "hardly stingy"?
I am sorry, Drezner, but your line of reasoning does not make sense to me.
And with regard to the tsunami catastrophe, if thus far Spain and the U.K have donated $68 million and $96 million, respectively, is it not stingy from the U.S. to be contributing with $35 million?posted by: Fab on 12.30.04 at 11:31 AM [permalink]
Another fumble by the vacation president. I was watching Fox earlier, and they listed the contributions of other countries, and the commentator was too embarrassed to mention America's "generous 35 million", and just said we are donating a lot of other resources (which is true).
Although, someone finally decided to wake up over there in DC. Sending Jeb seems like the first good idea I've heard from republicanms since the election.posted by: Jor on 12.30.04 at 11:31 AM [permalink]
I'm counting, and Americans have donated $127 million so far. We don't need our government to take our money and decide what to do with it. We're quite capable of deciding what to do all on our own.
As for the things that our government can do that no amount of money given to the Red Cross cannot, how about this?
Conway said the Lincoln carrier strike group has 12 helicopters embarked that he said could be "extremely valuable" in recovery missions.posted by: Chuck Simmins on 12.30.04 at 11:31 AM [permalink]
Just to add to the data, I asked around to my Navy friends (I'm in the intel community but a civilian) and all of our back-of-envelope estimates say that the Lincoln task force is costing between $2 million and $3 million a day. so add another $15 to $20 million to the US toal so far.posted by: Charlie (Colorado) on 12.30.04 at 11:31 AM [permalink]
Do these numbers break out the UN bills?
Also, I will be happy to spend more American money on aid...once we have French soldiers replacing ours in South Korea, Japan, etc.posted by: Aaron on 12.30.04 at 11:31 AM [permalink]
I have seen it said elsewhere the $35 million is all the US aid agency has left in its contingency budget. For it to spend more would require an act of Congress. If this is true, then the US government is doing all it can legally until Congress acts. I don't know when Congress is supposed to get back into session (complicated by our recent election) but political theater dictates they will do something soon after. The sticking point probably will be how long they get to tell the world how generous and wonderful they are ;).posted by: RSwan on 12.30.04 at 11:31 AM [permalink]
Isn't our contribution via Uncle Sam in the end going to be around $1 billion?
And how much is the UN going to skim off the top, bottom and inbetween?posted by: Sandy P on 12.30.04 at 11:31 AM [permalink]
Bruce Bartlett's article had this, link via Instapundit:
...In the area of international aid, the official data also exclude private transfers such as remittances by foreign workers in the U.S. According to the Inter-American Development Bank, remittances to Latin America alone amounted to $38 billion in 2003--more than all official assistance combined. And $31 billion of that came from the U.S. In some countries, foreign remittances came to more than 10 percent of GDP, thus having a significant impact on economic growth and poverty alleviation....
And via Instapudit, Chuck Simmins, private/corp donations so far:
By my count, that right there is $107,000,000 U.S. dollars. From private sources. Don't forget, the people of the United States are the most generous people in the world. We don't expect our Government to spend our money for us. We take care of that ourselves.posted by: Sandy P on 12.30.04 at 11:31 AM [permalink]
Per capita or percentage of GDP breakdowns are only useful in my mind if charity was all about patting oneself on the back. "My $50 donation means more to me than Bill Gates' $1 million." type statements. Sure it may make you feel morally superior, but at the end of the day, raw dollars are really what counts to the people ACTUALLY affected. The fact that Norway tops out at 21 cents per capita is really nice if you're a Norwegian looking to feel good about yourself, but in terms of absolute results, does it really matter how the giver feels? Is that what charity and relief efforts are all about? Crowing about how you "gave till it hurt"?posted by: Ryan A on 12.30.04 at 11:31 AM [permalink]
$107.000.000, that's like $0.36 for every American... The Swedes on the other hand have donated $0.33 for every Swede _just_ to the Red Cross, and they still believe that their goverment should give aid.
And if you want to play the "most amount donated wins" game, I'll play the EU card and they US still loses....
Still stingy i guess...posted by: somethingStingy on 12.30.04 at 11:31 AM [permalink]
Norway is a tiny nation of 4.5 million people with an incredible oversupply of hydroelectric power and oil reserves. It's a fine country, but it has so much spare cash and oil it really doesn't know what to do with it. How many nations are in such a position to donate to those in need?posted by: Frank Warner on 12.30.04 at 11:31 AM [permalink]
I am sorry, but the report you link to is a JOKE. For example they (and you) claim that they "factor in private giving@. If you read the details they CLEARLY DO NOT! What the do is to look at tax incentives and estimate how much of the private aid is due to the state. If Americans are generous due to cultural reasons they simply do not count it as aid. This is statism in absurdum.
Furthermore, their estimate of private givings is hopelessly limited. They only count money given through certain NGOs, coming to the figure 5,7 billion for the US (almost twice the NGO-fueled private aid given by all other countries). But of that money they ultimately only count 0.9 million to US contributions.
If we take into account direct private aid sent directly to poor people (often from their family or countrymen, ) and total state aid (for some ridiculous idea they only count ODA) the correct figure is more like 60 billion USD in total aid. Or 215 dollars/year for every American.
This is more than most Europeans nations, and even comparable to Sweden ODA of 190 dollars/capita (Sweden gives very little in private aid, so this should be roughly comparable.)
Correction, they count 0.9 Billion, not million.posted by: Teller on 12.30.04 at 11:31 AM [permalink]
You use subjective determinants to adjust the score...such as Japan collecting interest on loans made and the US tying aid to third world nations to trade with the US.
Perhaps it would be more intellectually honest to rank them sans your subjective constraints and then rank them after.
Perhaps a better way of looking at things is that a gift is only truly a gift if it is given freely. Passive-Aggressive moaning might make people give more, but it is no less coercive than pointing a gun at someone's head.
Generally most people are offended at such tactics and at being deceived. IMO your exercise would be more effective if you stated "here is where we are in raw numbers, and here is where we are when we adjust the numbers because of these social values we believe in."
But no, it is far easier to hide one's agenda. Which is perhaps the greatest failing of the modern progressive movement.
In reading this site, and the background papers I am reminded of a bit of Orwell:
Stop being so damn clever and try a little forthrightness, you might be surprised at how far it will go.
Frank Warner, I thought the US was the last superpower, the mightiest nation on the earth, lots of superrich companies. I thought they would be in a position to match Norway?
Still stingy i guess...posted by: somethingStingy on 12.30.04 at 11:31 AM [permalink]
Is it too much to suggest that some criticisms simply be ignored?
I don't blame Jan Egeland, faced as he is with Darfur and Congo and now this unprecedented disaster, for needling rich countries to give more. More is going to be given, more by every country in the OECD; the discussion on amounts pledged so far doesn't mean anything, because the response of every government involved is being improvised as I write this. This really is a new situation.
Now, technically, one could say this means statistical measures of development aid are misleading. Development aid and disaster aid are not the same thing, generous development aid can be wasted, private charity should count and so on. But is this a discussion that needs to take place now?
The campaign is over. Not every criticism needs to be responded to before the current news cycle ends, especially when the critic isn't even an American. In large parts of the world 2004 will be remembered primarily for the tsunami disaster -- not Iraq, not our election or outsourcing or any of the other topics we argue about from time to time. This does not seem like the best time for looking in the mirror and arguing about how generous we look to ourselves. I would rather President Bush and Secretary Powell had not responded to Egeland's goad at all than put on a display of ill-timed indignation.posted by: Zathras on 12.30.04 at 11:31 AM [permalink]
I disagree, Zathras, are you Zathras or your brother Zathras, BTW?
Spend time in Euro chat rooms and you're bound to be hit by our stinginess. W didn't bite his lip, the press went bonkers.posted by: Sandy P on 12.30.04 at 11:31 AM [permalink]
We are giving aid as a country. Nice try, tho.
How many carriers is Sweden sending?
Troops?posted by: Sandy P on 12.30.04 at 11:31 AM [permalink]
These sorts of comparisons are always very aggrevating because they assume that all goverments are created equally. When comparing the amount of public aid money given by a country, it makes much more sense to generate statistics relative to a countries total budget, rather than its GDP. For instance, Sweeden's GDP (according to the CIA world factbook) is $238.3 billion with total goverment revenue at $177.7 billion. The United States, on the other hand, has revenues of $1.78 trillion, though its GDP is just a shade under eleven trillion dollars. That means Sweeden has *75%* of its country's wealth to work with when doling out aid, while the United States has only 16%. And the world's top doner, Norway? 76%. No suprise then that these goverments are more generous with the total wealth of their respective countries; they control five times as much of it as the United States. Given that, (and that Norway is a more prosperous country than the United States) the only suprise is that Scandanavia does not give more.posted by: M Mayernick on 12.30.04 at 11:31 AM [permalink]
Diplomad's not happy:
Do I really need to say anything more? "Only really the UN can do the job?" We have US C-130s flying in and out here dropping off heaps of supplies; US choppers arrive today; USAID is doing a knock-out job of marshalling and coordinating US and local resources to deliver real assistance to real people. The Aussies have planes and troops delivering stuff; even the Indians have goods on the way. The UN? Nowhere to be seen. OK, I'm not being fair. Last night they played host to a big "coordination" meeting of donors to announce that the UNDP has another large "assessment and coordination team" team arriving. Our USAID guys, who've been working 18-20 hrs/day, came back furious from this meeting saying everybody would be dead if the delivery of aid waited for the UN to set up shop and begin "coordinating." The UN types are upset with the US, Ms. Short, dear, not because we're undermining them but because we're showing them up as totally inept.
The United States certainly is not the last superpower. China will be the next one, as soon as it frees itself.
No American pretends the United States has more oil than it uses, and it doesn't take a mathematical wizard to figure out that the United States has to pay for the oil it imports -- even the Iraqi oil. Norway doesn't have that expense to concern itself with, so it has extra cash to make donations -- impressive for Norway's size, but still tiny compared to what the United States contributes to the world's needy.
America's principal gift to the world is in promoting the spread of freedom and democracy. Everywhere the United States protects a democracy or frees a nation from dictatorship, that nation benefits in life, liberty and prosperity.
And this may come as a surprise to you: As more of the world is freed, the United States' share of the world economy shrinks. The U.S. intentionally becomes less a super power. More money flows out of the U.S. than comes back in.
Americans accept that trade-off because we know the world is likely to be more peaceful and economies are more likely to expand in freedom. Americans are also convinced that, in freedom, all people will have more fun.
No other nation has freed as many other nations as the United States. Even on a per capita basis, no other nation comes close. Stingy?posted by: Frank Warner on 12.30.04 at 11:31 AM [permalink]
Given that the Norwegians and the rest of the EU get a free ride on the US's defense budget, perhaps some percentage of the US defense budget should be added to the US charity total.posted by: Tom Love on 12.30.04 at 11:31 AM [permalink]
Don't forget prescription drugs.posted by: Sandy P on 12.30.04 at 11:31 AM [permalink]
Two other sets of figures that seem to be useful... Lets consider (1) The ratio of our relief to our personal GDP
then I estimate that 11 other countries pay more relief per $ of personal GDP and thus the the US is 12-th not 9-th.
The other number is the yearly expense. our Relief is about $8.54/year/person, or about 0.02% of a persons income. (Note: Not 2%, BUT $2 out of $1,0000)
The ordering of the countries, by Relief/(Personal GDP) is:
Given that the Norwegians and the rest of the EU get a free ride on the US's defense budget, perhaps some percentage of the US defense budget should be added to the US charity total.
Charity involves giving and not expecting anything in return. Our large military hardly fits under the defintion of charity. We get a lot back by defending Europe and keeping them relatively unarmed. I think a large military commitment is great, because my country gets substantial benefits. Oh, and Norway is NOT in the EU.
Wow. A nation with a powerful druge lobby which lets drug compaines get away with 18% profit margins ain't doing charity work.
Markets suck when it comes to perscription drugs, because people won't say no if they're sick or can't get an erection. However, markets are wonderful for consumer electronics! People are able to say no to an MP3 player.
Please explain how an SUV causes an earthquake?posted by: Drew on 12.30.04 at 11:31 AM [permalink]
Not commenting re "stinginess" or otherwise. Just the heartwarming news that so far (11am local time UK Dec 31st) the British public (not the government) has donated some 32million GB Pounds (almost 62 million US Dollars) for SE Asia disaster relief, and that figure rises hourly.
Let's hope the aid it can buy reaches as far as possible as soon as possible.
Johnposted by: John on 12.30.04 at 11:31 AM [permalink]
It really annoys me to see money coerced from taxpayers described as "giving". It's not it's taking!
The only charity that counts is personal charity. The state should only be taking/spending money to help it's own citizens. So some state aid is nescessary for the states self interest, but private donations indicate the real level of compassion.
Also remember that unless the allficted are weened of Aid it destroys their self reliance, and also destroys markets, as all the food aid displaces local farmers causing more problems! I'd ask you NOT to give, but to INVEST in the tsunami affected areas. It will work out better for both parties.posted by: Rob Read on 12.30.04 at 11:31 AM [permalink]
Without the 18% profit margin on succesful drugs, there wouldn't be any drugs for your stiffy problem Drew.
Is this the official soft-left viewpoint?posted by: Rob Read on 12.30.04 at 11:31 AM [permalink]
There is no such thing as real altruism in charity. The left loves to try to thread that needle, of course it seems to fly right over their heads when they try to make that claim and beat their chests about how much they have given while accussing others of not giving their
The New York Times should be wiped out from this earth. What a bunch of morons! And, by the way, my money is mine, nobody else's.posted by: Luis M. Puig on 12.30.04 at 11:31 AM [permalink]
Somehting like 80 million in private aid has been raised thusfar... all without the prompting of the government. I've got the story links on my blog.
So, let's add that figure to what the government is doing both inside and outside of the UN, and re-calculate our arguments.
It's sorta funny how the free and somewhat-less-free Western nations fall all over themselves comparing who gives the most.
The real answer? The West gives the most, because it is able to do so. Why? Because their nations are in fact free, and have the robust economies of free nations. Not to mention a humanitarian ethic still prevalent across the West.
So how much has Osama given to his Muslim brothers? How much has been diverted from the Sauds and Arabist nations financing death and destruction against the West to help their co-believers?
Who gives the most? The West. Too bad Susan Sontag is dead. Maybe she might pen a polemic about how the West is responsible for the tsunami in the first place. Perhaps Chomsky can pinch hit for her.posted by: Pogo on 12.30.04 at 11:31 AM [permalink]
I agree with Mr. Read.
Mr. Egeland's statements (and the analysis of) do nothing except irritate and marginalize loving and giving people in a moment of unbelievable devastation. Creating an instinctive balk toward giving to the indignant. Aid aid aid seems to = hate hate hate... The unbelievably political use the data pertaining to this horrendous event to skew to a policy end.
I saw the pictures of children stretched out. I could "see" my child in that disaster. I could see kids at Stinson Beach in California stretched out. Does it really matter how much $ was giving by who and when? I think it matters more how much water got to who and when.
It occurred to me (I have a singular slow wit) there are dozens of industries that will be impacted by this disaster. Their vested interest in getting the area back up to running order could be used as a catalyst for helping the area with uncountable benefits for all parties.
These companies local presence make them the best long-term aid providers. Help get water and food now, but invest in those local and international companies that have direct impact like the travel industry.
I don't like the use of the State's cash for the simple fact that (for whatever initial prompting) it becomes a political statement that apparently does not help the US's geopolitical position no matter how much money we give somebody gets mad because we did not give more...
Uh, all you have to do is compare the $12 billion in aid Bush requested for Florida after the hurricanes...posted by: Gary on 12.30.04 at 11:31 AM [permalink]
Josh Yelon -- the reason for the confusion over including foreign remittentance and private donatation to foreign charities is that in the balance of payments data -- where one would go to find such info-- the 2 items are combined into one line item.
C.S.Froning-- you are right that we are the largest donor of food aid, but the young ladies' comments that we do this to get rid of surplus commodities is right. Moreover, this is an area where it is especially difficult to take the data at face value. Just as happens with regulators, programs developed for one reason end up being used for other reasons. In the early 1970s I worked as an international economist at the department of Ag.
All of you on the right should really pay attention to what is being done in your name.
The Ann Rand Association says that
I wonder what the Rand people believe the less than 50% --not the most --of those poor people who are suffering because it is their own fault did to bring on this tragedy.posted by: spencer on 12.30.04 at 11:31 AM [permalink]
Spencer: Just FYI, I was quoting the Washington Times. Those were not my words.posted by: C.S. Froning on 12.30.04 at 11:31 AM [permalink]
While $35 million dollars is disproportionately small against the scale of the tragedy it was meant for, I think a generosity index should not be based on a GDP to aid ratio. A net income to aid ratio might be a truer indicator of a country's generosity. I am not sure how accurate a side-by-side comparison of national aids can be in determining generosity without at least a corresponding side-by-side comparison of national debts. I can easily imagine someone from rural Oklahoma having more money to spare than someone from metro NY even though a New Yorker earns more money than an Oklahoman on average.
I think the US should give more, and I think it will. The US always has. It has a great PR opportunity right now if it plays it right.
Nevertheless, it makes me uncomfortable when I hear "the US should take a leading role...". The US should not take a leading role in anything except its own affairs. The US does not have an inherent right in taking leadership in changing other peoples' lives. It's sometimes great when the US leads, especially in charity, but we should all stop thinking that America is our leader. And Americans should stop thinking that they must lead.posted by: zuma on 12.30.04 at 11:31 AM [permalink]
All this bullshit about "giving per GNP" is just that bullshit. If you want to attach a moral component to giving fine....ie the "widows mite" But the cold hard fact is this:
If I can only give a dollar because it is all I have, fine. I have given my hearts worth, but the fact remains my dollar doesn't buy shit. It is my dollar coupled with Bill Gates's dollars (substitute US, or whomever you feel like) that saves lives.
My single dollar won't buy a pot to piss in.
All this GNP bullshit is just to make countries like Denmark feel better about the level of their giving.
Those who can do.....those who can not bitch, whine, and I suspect write letters to the SMH about how the US is not stepping up to the plate.
For the past umpty-up years we have heard about how the US needs to stay out of other countries business. Until they need our cash that is...
We will step up to the plate and then some.....take what we have given freely to you, and try to find a modicum of gratitude.posted by: Jeff on 12.30.04 at 11:31 AM [permalink]
The original rational for US aid was that it was to our self interest to provide aid as an instrument of the cold war competition with the Soviets. It was a significant weapon in the cold war battle. Moreover, it is also a major subsidy for US exports.
Maybe a prime example of this would be the Aswan dam in Egypt. The primary reason the US financed the construction of that dam was to counter Soviet influence in Egypt.
After the Cold War it was allowed to languish.
If the War on Terror is now suppose to take on a battle similiar to the Cold War a rational for
I am amazed that the right wing is opposed to Aid
Here are the numbers Drezner gives adjusted for % of GDP in a government's budget.
Here's what they mean: We're actually pretty generous in terms of government aid, given the scope of our government. In fact, Norway's the only country that has much room to criticize us. However, those making arguments like "Europe is socialist, they think the only way to give is through the government" are missing a pretty important angle, to wit: We're 3rd in aid adjusted for proportion of GDP controlled by government. We're 19th in aid adjusted to include private giving instead of adjusting for proportion of GDP controlled by government.
The market (that is, private giving) isn't keeping up because of folks like Luis Puig.
That isn't at all to detract from the heroism of the people helping with tsunami relief - you should all go to one of these sites and help out. But Mr. Drezner is contributing to a useful, informed, fact-based dialogue about the quality of the US' global citizenship. It's the sort of thing that people who care about living in a good society should do.posted by: Arthur on 12.30.04 at 11:31 AM [permalink]
Sorry, one link was apparently broken. Here are the adjusted stats, derived from economic information on the CIA World Factbook (e.g., Norway has 76% of its GDP in government revenues, the United States 16, so Norway's giving number on Drezner's original list would be divided by 4.625 to get the giving index on this page).posted by: Arthur on 12.30.04 at 11:31 AM [permalink]
This is an another interesting but myopic worldwide bickering session. Aid is flowing in large amounts, and will continue to do so....good. The west is generous. The UN and Kofi will be at the fore, because it's a prime PR opportunity that will direct attention away from the scrutiny of itself, (and it will work, too, because it's a soundbite-driven world out there, with a nanosecond attention span). Meanwhile, the real (unasked) question, or problem, to me anyway, is China. Where the hell are they? Hiding, that's where. Like they do when it comes to Darfur, IP pirating, NK, or anything else. Yep, they are already a economic superpower. But they constantly play the "third world" card at times like these. They can throw a million people and billions of dollars to build a new stadium, highway or dam, in 6 months or less. But they won't even take the humanitarian lead in their own region, unless they get something profoundly strategic in return. The bickering over "superpower US does this wrong and does that wrong" is funny. When China hits it's stride in about 10 more years, the world is REALLY going to have something to complain about. It won't be pretty. There is no end to the depths of the dark, cynical ill-intent woven into the massive monster that is the Chinese government. Here we are seeing a small but ever-telling example. Bicker on.posted by: Alliturken on 12.30.04 at 11:31 AM [permalink]
Put away your statistics and bar-charts for Pete's sake. What stuck in the craw for many people was the fact that Bush carried on cycling around his farm while this disaster was unfolding and when aid was eventually promised it amounted to about what the US spends in about 5 hours in Iraq. The real point here was the complete political ineptitude of your president in the face of a huge international crisis (not that his muppet Blair faired much better) which was compounded by mentioning a figure for aid which was just twice what Amazon has raised in 48 hours. Stingy? Yes I think it was a justified response to events as they were then, even if the US ends up contributing a substantial portion of overall aid. You can only respond to events as they happen. If Powell et al didn't like the response perhaps they should have thought more carefully about what they said in the first place. I think it's called Statesmanship, a word clearly not in Bush's vocabulary.
So Mike, I get it. What you are saying is that appearances are far more important that the issue itself in debate, or the people in need, or the actions taken to deal with the problem, or the end result.
Right.posted by: Alliturken on 12.30.04 at 11:31 AM [permalink]
I think what all this basically boils down to is neither that the is stingy or that the US is an empire. It's that the US isn't an empire when it's critics want it it to be, an it's an empire when it doesn't want it to be.
It' New Year's eve and I don't have the time to look at the figures, but my gut instinct tells me that the US probably has the largest national debt among all the major donors. Shouldn't a generosity index take into account what the donors give after substracting national debt service from the GDP?
At any rate $35 million is as clearly insufficient as criticizing Bush is grandstanding. I feel confident that the $35 millions isn't going to be the last the Americans will give. In fact, it's up to $350 million now. Unfortunately, I can't say I have the same confidence in those who are desperately seeking an anti-Bush angle to all this. Any legitimate criticism left is either premature or will be eventually disproved by American action. Everything else seems insincere and pure political grandstanding.posted by: zuma on 12.30.04 at 11:31 AM [permalink]
Zuma -- you made a very interesting point that the US should not take a leading role in anything except its own interest.
Does this mean you are extremely opposed to the US war in Iraq?posted by: spencer on 12.30.04 at 11:31 AM [permalink]
Regarding the Sudan vs. Tsunami thing, I think it's pretty self-evident.
Sudan is an ongoing problem, caused by humans, including the government. The tsunami is over and done with.
It's much more difficult to help people in an ongoing situation like Darfur. The government and the rebels are likely to interfere with any aid, and are likely to start the strife up all over again, essentially destroying whatever progress your aid has made possible.
Helping regions wiped out by a natural disaster is comparatively simple and more productive.
The people of Darfur are kind of like the internal organs of a homeless alcoholic junkie. You can try to help his liver by giving him money, but he might just spend it on booze which hurts the liver. You can put him in rehab, but maybe he'll just walk out and fall off the wagon.
The tsunami-damaged regions of South Asia are like the broken leg of a rational person who slipped on ice. It's much easier to help in that case.
The leadership of the factions involved in Sudan play the role of the alcoholic's brain. They're not necessarily on your side, and don't share your goals or values. They're as likely to stymie your efforts to provide aid as to support them.
That's not the case in South Asia, except perhaps in Burma.
Under the circumstances, it's entirely reasonable for more support to be going to South Asia. Unfortunate, but reasonable.
The original US pledge of $15 million (and even the later $35 million) looked rather bad in comparison to the $40+ million being spent on parties for the inaugural.
Even though the inaugural is largely privately funded, it still looks decadent, a capitalist orgy of access-buyers, especially in comparison to the loss and poverty after the tsunami.posted by: Jon H on 12.30.04 at 11:31 AM [permalink]
Jon H. —
Going from US govt aid to "... opposed to aid." is quite a jump. The ARA were against the government providing aid not aid en toto. And I think it is safe to say the ARA is the sole representative of the Right.
For spinning your own statement Left I give you a 10. For Credibility you get a 0.
Where did you see this information on riding a bike?
Let's take a trip back to 9/11/2000 where the first reports (if I remember correctly) were that nearly 30K victims estimated. Some days later, this number was reduced, reduced and reduced finally landing somewhere near 3k. 1/10th the original ESTIMATE. The word is ESTIMATE.
Your the President, you hear 23k are ESTIMATED Dead... Your people come up with a financial number, militiary resources and actions and you go with them.
Your beating the guy up and making a politically charged set of statements without context.
How about, impossible to know the direction and magnitude accurately and making your best guess?
These tactics of defame and malign do not help your credibility either.
What were those values for Clinton, Reagan and Carter?
Why is it important to associate decadence with this President, now?
Also on a good note: a representative of charitynavigator.org noted in a radio interview today that nearly $50M had been ponied up by American citizens.
Regards,posted by: Shawn on 12.30.04 at 11:31 AM [permalink]
What's wrong with capitalist orgies? The world would be a safer, richer, more equal, self-policing, productive if all countries held them regularly, and espoused all that they symbolize. It's a great distraction from, and natural predator of, self-pity, religious fanaticsm/facism, racism, theoretical utopianism. Those focused on capitalistic pursuits generally have no time for or interest in such destructive ideas.
Darfur: It's pure crap to level that metaphor at the people themselves. The "alcoholic" is the government who systematically encourages/authorizes/funds their oppression and demise. You made an excuse for ignoring the problem on the basis of difficulty in confronting it, especially considering that there is no big PR win. Wait.... do you work for the UN? One thing I do agree about is that you can't give aid to a government like that who will misuse it against those who it was intended for.posted by: Alliturken on 12.30.04 at 11:31 AM [permalink]
I like the analogy of the drunk that Jon H uses. But I would add that this drunk could turn on you and maim / kill you too.
I would also add that this is no broken leg. The Samaritan stopped and helped a chap, bloody, unconscious, near death. He did not stop for a guy with a sign "will work for food."
This event is literally 135k people bloody, dead, on the side of the road with more to come.
The analogy is Samaritan vs. Intervention. It is a lot easier for the population and the media to get behind the Samaritan.
Please give a reference to your comments about private giving. As I understand it the roughly 34 billion dollars given by private charities for foreign aid from Americans dwarfs worldwide giving.posted by: arctic fox on 12.30.04 at 11:31 AM [permalink]
"Re: the command by: arctic fox "
I have not been able to track down a "Private Charity" link, except the confusing one pointed to by the original article, and would appriciate having one also, but...
If the $34b figure is correct, then this is 0.3% of our $11,000b GDP, or about $150.00/year/person,
How would you determine if this is High, About right, or too Low?
I like the analogy of the drunk that Jon H uses. But I would add that this drunk could turn on you, maim & kill you too.
I would also add that this is no broken leg. The Samaritan stopped and helped a chap, bloody, unconscious, near death. He did not stop for a guy with a sign "will work for food."
This event is literally 135k people bloody, dead, on the side of the road with more to come.
The analogy is Samaritan vs. Intervention. It is a lot easier for the population and the media to get behind the Samaritan.
The original rational for US aid was that it was to our self interest to provide aid as an instrument of the cold war competition with the Soviets.
You are, of course, refering to Hoover's cold war work in getting food aid to Europe after WWI and later to the USSR after the Civil War, no?posted by: chuck on 12.30.04 at 11:31 AM [permalink]
Audio file at approximately 4:10 minutes Mr. Stamp indicates American citizens have given $50 million. I listened to it twice.
Hope this helps.
Look, the simple fact is, the US will head the disaster relief (just as we always do) and front the most cash to get the job done (just like we always do). Old George did the right thing in establishing his own "coalition of the willing" to aid the affected regions because god knows what would happen if we let the UN take control. The US is still the light of the world even if those smelly europeans choose to close their eyes and feign ignorance. This anti-american garbage is well over-done and I would not be atall suprised to see a major backlash in 10-20 years... call it anti-anti-americanism.posted by: JoeJoe The Indian Circus Boy on 12.30.04 at 11:31 AM [permalink]
Was the U.S. seen as stingy? Yes.
Actually, This is what georgie should have
1) Make a public remark 24 hours after the
Thats it. That would have stopped all
The reason georgie failed to do this, and there
At any rate the PR damage is done; The world
Happy News Years folks!
I think the "coalition of the giving" is a little lopsided. Where is the "multilateral support" that my mother read to me about at bedtime?posted by: Vato Loco on 12.30.04 at 11:31 AM [permalink]
"This event is easy for scientists to explain, but very hard for
The tsunami may be part of a huge divine plan humans are too frail to
The world has been an imperfect place since Adam and Eve betrayed God
Hindu and Buddhist philosophies are more accepting of the potential of
"There are things that are going to happen that are not going to be so
The leader of a Buddhist Association said:
"These are forces of nature that happen, and we accept them in our
My 0.02 cents worth is the irony of it all.
I could give a rat's batooty where it comes from,
And that's my 2 cents worth.
The fact that the United States of America has been babysitting these EU countries for the past 50 years accounts for the fact these said countries have more to give in aid. As they do not have to invest heavily into military expenses because of 'big brother' doing the investing for them.
This was brought up a while ago but it bears repeating - WHERE IS THE RESPONSE FROM CHINA?!?!?!?
Why are they getting a bye on this issue in the worldwide media while everyone wants to obsess over where Bush spent the weekend? They should be kicking in $100M in aid due to the size of their economy.
BTW - does anyone know where Kofi "self righteous" Annan spent his week? Was he slaving away at the UN offices coordinating the response? I'll bet not!posted by: DallasLFM on 12.30.04 at 11:31 AM [permalink]
This isn't about comparing percentage of GDP and private giving and gross national income and yada yada. This is about an offer that was so miserly that it would have been comical if it hadn't been so depressing.
Alliturken writes: " It's pure crap to level that metaphor at the people themselves. The "alcoholic" is the government who systematically encourages/authorizes/funds their oppression and demise."
That was exactly what I *was* saying. The government and other authorities in power in Sudan are the brain, or controlling faculties, of the "person". The people of Darfur who are suffering are like the liver and other organs being damaged by the person's self-abuse. An alcoholic's liver can't keep itself from being damaged. It's a hostage, like the people of Darfur are hostages.
It's not a perfect analogy, because alcoholics usually aren't drinking intentionally to kill *their liver*.
The point of the analogy was to show that the people of Darfur are hostage to controlling wills who are not acting in the nation's self-interest and can interfere with efforts to help Darfur, much as an alcoholic or addict will often behave in ways that interfere with efforts to save their life. No matter how hard you try to save the person before they drink themselves to death, the person is the one who determines whether you're wasting your time.posted by: Jon H on 12.30.04 at 11:31 AM [permalink]
It's been in the news.
"The estimated budget for the event is $30-40 million, but that will not cover security costs. "
"What were those values for Clinton, Reagan and Carter?"
Dunno about Reagan and Carter, but:
"Bush's first inauguration cost about $40 million. President Bill Clinton's second inauguration cost $29.6 million."
"Why is it important to associate decadence with this President, now?"
Because his just happens to be coming up a few weeks after a massive disaster.posted by: Jon H on 12.30.04 at 11:31 AM [permalink]
I address the Old Media falshoods about the $35 million here.
I look at public aid to foreign countries and private charity in a response to one of my commenters here.posted by: Chuck Simmins on 12.30.04 at 11:31 AM [permalink]
Even the increased $35 million contribution represents a minimal gesture, given the monumental scale of the tragedy and the enormous resources of the United States. The donation amounts to half a day’s spending on the war in Iraq. It is less money than will be expended on the parties and official festivities surrounding Bush’s January 20 inauguration.
The US government relief effort can be measured by another yardstick—its response to the hurricanes that hit Florida this year. The Federal Emergency Management Agency alone has pumped $3.17 billion into the state, nearly 100 times more than the proposed US contribution for the South Asian tsunami. The four Florida hurricanes combined killed 116 people, compared to over 100,000 dead in the South Asian disaster. According to the brutal calculus of American imperialism, a human life in the United States—especially in a battleground state in the months before a presidential election—is worth infinitely more than a human life in Sri Lanka or Indonesia.
I only read about 2/4 of the posts prior, ending with the comments about 'georgie boy'.
The sight indicates that there is a "reported" $40M for Bush's 2001 PIC fund raising but does not break it down nor indicate who "reported" it.
The data for the 2005 inaugural shows only $13M in donations greater than $10k so there must be an inordinately large number of 'small' donations all from the private sector.
Also, *ALL* of the money spent must come from the Non-profit PIC. Including the money to cover the DoD's (Dept. of Defense's) use of 2500 personnel for security which is estimated at $4M (this is in contradiction to your MSNBC link which states the security costs will not be covered)
I ask for references because of all the misinformation that seems to permeate the media. Not the least of which is from the web.
Like MS-Word documents passed off as 1970's "proof" of evil doing.
President Bush spoke directly to the leaders of the "Areas" themselves and did just that:
"This morning, I spoke with the leaders of India, Sri Lanka, Thailand and Indonesia, and expressed my condolences... to provide assistance, and I assured those leaders this is only the beginning of our help."
He also pledged *AN INITIAL* $35M (NOT $15M) committed carrier groups etc.
"We are committed to helping the affected countries in the difficult weeks and months that lie ahead. We pledged AN INITIAL $35 million in relief assistance. We have deployed disaster experts to the region...we're dispatching a Marine expeditionary unit, the aircraft carrier Abraham Lincoln, and the Maritime pre-position squadron from Guam..."
3) That it is in contact with the UN.
What is so hard about getting partisan politics off dead people?
I'm no Bush Lover, but getting bent out of shape for this is just misguided posturing and certainly does you no good.
Kind Regards,posted by: Shawn on 12.30.04 at 11:31 AM [permalink]
Not wanting to dive in the deep end of this cesspool, but concerning the initial $15 million figure: this is less than the price the US is willing to pay for the head of one man.
It did sort of highlight the priorities in stark, clear light.
That is all.posted by: Barry P. on 12.30.04 at 11:31 AM [permalink]
...just stumbled in here, but i read the article by the guy from the Ayn Rand institute earlier today at Sam Smith's Progressive Review, and may i please share here (part of) the comment i made there? i read this thread and i see important economic "missed understandings" being perpetuated......
DAVID HOLCBERG, AYN RAND INSTITUTE - "As the death toll mounts in the areas hit by Sunday's tsunami in southern Asia, private organizations and individuals are scrambling to send out money and goods to help the victims. Such help may be entirely proper, especially considering that most of those affected by this tragedy are suffering through no fault of their own. The United States government, however, should not give any money to help the tsunami victims."
Note that this author begins his indignant stream of wildly crooked thinking by questioning whether even the PRIVATE contributions are the right thing to do. He even highlights that he leaves this to doubt EVEN THOUGH HE ACKNOWLEDGES they suffer through no fault of their own. With despicable morals like that, why would anyone assign this man any credibility whatsoever?
Any pirates out there with a plank for this guy to walk?
Ayn Rand is a name I am aware of, but I haven’t read her work...mostly because my sister the Rush Limbaugh fan recommended it highly some years ago. (though perhaps my friend who says stupidity should be studied rather than ignored, is right.)
Anyway, the article’s extinguished writer cleverly or conveniently omits one complete side of the equation/argument he is sum-moaning...and that’s why his thinking just plain don’t add up.
This idea that our western/developed/first-world economic supremecy came to us purely by the sweat of our own brow is wrong history and dangerous future. To hide or forget as the author does the billions in profit taken off the third world every year above and beyond what we lend them (you’ve heard of the concept of charging interest on loans?), not to mention the whole history of colonizer rape and plunder, is just ever-repeating the lies we have learned…like the lie we learn when we are warringly aghast at our own terrible September Eleventh, whilst being oblivious to, or ignorant of, the fact that the third world has a September Eleventh EVERY FOUR HOURS EVERY DAY in terms of the numbers of deaths of innocents. To glorify democracy and free-market capitalism whilst using money and might to install dictators and despots and to control and manipulate global markets…is the height of hypocrisy and ought to be intolerable, not saluted. To attempt to bathe oneself in holy nobility whilst sanctioning tortures too cruel is…well, insert your own word for that level of badness.
Do you STILL think they hate us “because of our freedoms”? If yes, when was the last time you “used your noodle”?
The great fallacy here (and it is HUGE; indeed it is what is killing us all) is NOT that wealth should be rewarded to and controlled by the earner of it. That concept is 100% correct. A person is entitled to the fruits of his or her labors….entitled to keep that which the sacrifice of their time and effort produces/creates.
The FALLACY is in the thinking that we humans have been operating under that rule at all, even though we all truly believe in it. On every level from personal to international, in our economics, wealth is and has been being transferred from its rightful earners, billions of whom work harder and harder just to keep alive, to NON-earners of it.
Fish that institute imbecile out of the pond, hand him a dictionary, and pack him off to have his thinking resuscitated!
Did you win the birth lottery? Did you get born with more brains, or health, or talent, etc. than others? Lucky you! Now, does that entitle you to be paid higher wages for your input into society for your entire life? Sorry, Chappy, no it doesn’t. You maybe got born with more brains or brawn or whatever, but we all arrive with INTRINSIC, UNDENIABLE, EQUAL RIGHTS. Not to mention you did not SACRIFICE anything for those blessings. In reality, you have ALREADY been “paid” more than others by your creator…from the get go. How’s your gratitude-o-meter working? Let’s rest here a minute so those who need to can check theirs.
We are temporary occupants of this earth. There is nothing born that needs no place to land, no place to BE. Therefore it is preposterous to live by a system which supposes land can rightfully be owned by anyone short of everyone, when NO one created land. New lion cubs still have their birthright to land, but we have collectively agreed to take that right from humans (to declare it extrinsic), and left most of us uncompensated so a fraction of us could prosper magnificently by a wee construct called private ownership of land. We astonish me.
All any of us has in reality is our time and effort to spend. No one created himself. The only thing we are able to control is HOW MUCH TIME AND EFFORT we will spend working…doing the “putting into” society we do so we can mutually benefit from having one. The only just and correct way to compensate for personal sacrifice of time and effort…which are the only capital we have to spend in GOD’S reality (as opposed to the matrix ‘reality’ we have been tricked into swallowing)…is to divide the opportunities and benefits of societal living EQUITABLY. You want to work harder and longer because you want more stuff? Fine! Go ahead! You will be compensated accordingly, and have more stuff than those who choose to work less long or less hard. (though they will have more time to go fishing or make love or whatever. There are upsides and downsides to choices.)
What is profit? It is actually nothing but legalized and sanctioned thievery, and this is proved by its very definition. Profit is the amount paid OVER AND ABOVE THE COST OF PRODUCING AN ITEM.
If I ask you to give me a dollar for nothing in exchange, you’ll laugh me off the stage. But if I manufacture a bucket that’s total cost to produce is ten dollars, I can easily get you to buy it for 11 dollars, because you have no way to know that it cost but ten to produce…and because you want or need a bucket.
A fair exchange just occurred there, plus a little thievery on the top. I gained a dollar in profit, therefore you lost a dollar in earnings. Remember, my total costs to produce were ten dollars, meaning my salary, my employees’ salaries, my raw materials, my factory and warehouse, transportation costs….everything it cost to get that bucket on the shelf was covered in the ten dollars. But I got 11 from you, and yes, you are happy to have a bucket you needed, but that doesn’t cancel the fact that a transfer of EARNED wealth took place. We both worked….we both put into society…contributed to the size of the pie available, but I was able, legally, to get your dollar off you, therefore I got a bigger piece of the pie than I put in…leaving less than your fair share for you. I got what I earned, and some of what you earned.
Multiply this little thievery (intentional or not it does occur) times trillions of profitable transactions that have taken place, and we are dealing with truly stratospheric sums of wealth that have been transferred from rightful EARNERS to non-earners. That’s why today if you stacked side-by-side the wealth owned by the richest .25% of humans and the amount owned by the remaining 99.75 %, the first group’s tower would be the taller.
The rich get richer and the poor get poorer in this way. Once ensconced as we have enshrined it, inequity cannot help but grow exponentially. The ever-escalating wealth gap is no mystery at all. Advantage of wealth/power makes advantage and takes advantage wherever it can….which is everywhere when backed by the laws which secure the status quo. Those who are getting the biggest share of the wealth that has been earned BY SOMEONE ELSE, are, of course, hell-bent on keeping this UNJUST system in place…and today you can so easily see them ratcheting up the degree to which they…billionaires who cannot possibly work a billion times harder or longer than others…take a bigger and bigger share of society’s benefits.
If the profits of the Microsoft corporation support the creation and maintenance of several millionaires and billionaires (which they do), how much difference is there between the COST of their products and the PRICE of their products?? You were overcharged by a mile. We all were. But we never speak of the loss that is actually inseparable from profit, though our futures depend on us realizing this is true.
In a society that measures a man’s worthiness by the amount of wealth he can accumulate, a one who could control ALL the world’s fruits would be hailed as the “fittest” while everyone starves. The fittest what? What kind of warped world-view is that? Where the devil did that come from?
But we don’t OPPOSE this system. We APPLAUD this system…sacrificing our (and everyone’s) right to a fair share of the pie in the lottery-minded belief that maybe someday WE might be the one to get MORE than he earned. Wanting is not bad, but wanting more and more and more reaches greed, and taking shares earned by others is inviting unhappiness and unsafety.
For some unknown reason in this system we even assign special character traits to the obscenely rich. Bill Gates and Brittany Spears are deemed more WORTHY of wealth…else we would be calling them thieves instead of successes, while a poor immigrant who keeps germs and infection at bay by cleaning the hospital…no matter if they work their fingers to the bone, is regularly ascribed detrimental traits. It is undeniable that people say the poor are that way because they are lazy, or stupid, or unambitious, or substance-addicted, or whatever. Like there are no rich people who are lazy or stupid or addicted…..and like there are no poor who are smart or hardworking. You KNOW that’s not true! When will you officially recognize that character traits in humans run the gamut regardless of the wealth one has or has not been allowed to accumulate under the system designed to most greatly benefit the already wealth/powerful?
Billionaires who share back a fraction of the heap of money they took off the rightful owners of it, are fawned over for their “generous philanthropy”! This is absurd and perverted thinking. We are not in favor of paying people for no work, yet we give a million UNEARNED doles to the billionaires WHILE WORRYING A DISASTER VICTIM WILL GET SOME LIFE-SAVING HELP OFF US!
People, there are completely workable alternatives to all this manufactured madness.
When will you take the red pill and become free? When will you finally become tired of your servitude, and demand pay equity for all those who work? Pay equity is JUSTICE, NOT CHARITY.
You work hard every day, only to have your earnings legally donated to billionaires…some of whom have never worked a day in their life. When will you raise your voice against the BIG injustice…the BIGGEST INJUSTICE…the INJUSTICE THAT IS KILLING US ALL???!!!
There IS enough wealth being produced to make this a happy and comfortable global society. But the war on the “lower classes” being carried out by the wealthy and powerful (ask yourself: who writes laws, and who consequently fills the prisons? Who but owners of extraordinary wealth have the power to manufacture scarcity of jobs in a world where so much work is waiting to be done, and just who consequently is forced to compete amongst themselves for those jobs?) ….the class war the rich are waging on us makes certain the extremely inequitable and unjust compensation distribution will continue until we revolt against injustice, and start acting in accord with what we all believe to be right.
You wanna know how cheap-labor predation works? Read this:
You wanna know how you got hoodwinked in the first place? Read this:
You wanna know how to begin to get out of this pickle? Read this:
you wanna hear the wealthy admit to having got a free lunch? Read this:
You want a really big-picture thinking, dripping in art-from-the-heart? Read this:
I am sincerely trying to save my bacon here. And yours. If you don’t love life, then I am not talking to you.
The fact that such extreme inequity exists now, means that we have the greatest opportunity to multiply human happiness that has EVER existed. The earnings of the most deprived are stored in the treasure chests of billionaire elites. It sits there waiting to be returned to its rightful earners. We don’t even have to reach near perfect equity to benefit greatly, either. Simply lopping off the extremes would pacify the violent economic ocean we ride, where the wavepeaks are as dangerous as the troughs. It’s ironic that the richest rich have as much to gain as anybody, because they’d wind up living in a much nicer world than they have found behind those gated walls they are forced to maintain to remain protected from those who have been robbed and will never stop fighting for what is theirs.
We could make 2005 the most important year in all of history, my friends. The opportunity awaits. Start ignoring the politicos and the CEO’s and the diabolic stupidity spewing from celebrated pundits. Those persons have done enough celebrating on our dime. Start talking to your fellow massman who comes in all colors, shapes, and sizes, and spread the unveiled truth about our economic dystem to those you are in the same boat with. When enough know what the root of the problem is, a critical mass consciousness may swiftly develop, and true revolution can come about peacefully. After all, the armies are full of our family members and they want to come home to us. It can last indefinitely, the peace and prosperity, once we have internalized the idea and the importance of fiscal justice to survival and happiness.
We will always have earthquakes…and we will always produce enough wealth to help each other cope with the horrible destruction they cause. We will NOT always have billionaires holding unearned wealth and power AND STANDING IN HUMANITY’S WAY with the even greater devastation having them causes us all. This is my prayer. But I pray to YOU, not to God. Our insane economics is not a Creator’s fault. When did god endorse capitalism? I missed the announcement.
We don’t need to change the world…just our false notions of how it works. Let’s get off this treadmill, and proceed with due purpose in the direction that leads to our happiness.
And always, let’s do gladly unto others exactly what we would want done for us, were we to find ourselves in their desperate situation. Our children are watching.
It is not altruism that should make us behave well toward others. It is the perfect cold hard sanity of self-preservation and self-interest that demands a realization of basic human rights for ALL (all includes you), and an equitization of fiscal rewards for work, bringing the elimination of extremes of wealth/power to accomplish that realization.
Remember: harm others, and you engrave an invitation for them to harm you back. Ask any five-year-old what he’d do if someone hit him. Ask him if he’d be wanting his stolen toy back.
It’s human nature to associate to succeed. You can’t climb out of a hole while you’re holding another man down in there.
Tell me this: if we already lived in an equitable society where all who work get fair wages paid according to the time and effort sacrificed and are allowed to keep them…where thereby basic needs are met for all and moderate luxury is afforded (thus strife and its stratospheric costs are minimized tremendously)…and then someone proposed to introduce inequitable distribution of wealth and power to this society….what reasoned argument could be brought to support the idea?
Happy New Everything, Birthlings
Re an earlier posting noting that no one had tried to tie the tsunami to gloabal warming, try GOOGLing "Tsunami,"global warmng"". You get a number of hits, not all from fanatics.
Dan, thanks for the article.posted by: Ben Sands on 12.30.04 at 11:31 AM [permalink]
I think this whole global discussion about stingy rich nations, and especially the US, is very positive. Shame is a good motivator. I can only imagine how much would have been pledged by the US had the human beings involved in this disaster been American voters in an election year.posted by: Anthony on 12.30.04 at 11:31 AM [permalink]
It seemes like the US is being singled out for being stingy because the US is specifically named. What other countries are also stingy? I don't know because he didn't say. The US WAS singled out for being held to public shame by being specifically named. I don't know why anyone in the US would want to cooperate with the UN when they criticize us on the one hand and then take credit for our generosity on the other.posted by: comment poster on 12.30.04 at 11:31 AM [permalink]
It seems to me there are some positive aspects to this discussion, such as bringing to light the many different ways American people give to the rest of the world. However, I also think resorting to name-calling is annoying at best, and counter-productive at worst. Here's a metaphor:
Let's say Person A is very generous, living on a modest salary and giving away much of her income to the poor. This I would find admirable, and it may inspire me to give more than I otherwise would. However, let's say that she goes around bragging about how generous she is, and calls other people "stingy" if they don't give as much as she does. If someone else volunteers their time rather than giving money, she argues that she is really the more virtuous giver than the other person is, and that meerly giving of ones time is of lesser value. Now instead of considering her to be admirable, I would find her to be petty and self-aggrandizing despite her generosity. I would consider her to have quite an imbalanced personality. I would have no desire to emulate her whatsoever. Being in her presence would not inspire me to give more, and it may even decrease my giving, as it would tend to take all the joy out of it.
Here's another one: One person stops to give a homeless person $20, while a second person hands out $5. The first person says, "My, aren't you stingy!" Does anyone besides me find this to be very poor manners? Isn't it better to appreciate whatever someone does give, rather than calling them names for not giving more?
I do think it is a worthy goal to find ways to inspire people, especially more well-off people, to give more. However, I don't think name-calling is the way to go.posted by: VOR on 12.30.04 at 11:31 AM [permalink]
I would like to address the fact that in times of disaster there should be funds designated for relief. These funds should be an agreed percentage of the GNPs of doner nations with the designating of extra emergency funds in extreme cases like these.
We do find that that richer doner nations have reduced the amount providing for these situations during the last years more likely for political reasons such as the need to divert funds for other things such as foreign adventures and the increase in weapons spending to anticipate real or unreal threats.
Arguments as to whether a UN representative is insulting a nation through the suggestion that in observing the reality of this specific and documented truth he or she is anti-American or anti-European when the problem lies in how to best save people and restore property and livelihood during times of extreme disaster are beyond me.
Private donations cannot possibly take the place of organized and specifically gathered funds by governments and would vary so much under different situations so as to become at time, I imagine, nearly non-existant.
Informing the public objectively by the media is something rare in our day and age and there are disasters that become politically embarrassing so as to taint information. Here we have something that all nations can observe and react to without too much political cost so why try to include it?
The UN is in place to be able to coordinate actions in situations like this and should only be strengthened so that it can do its work more efficiently BY ALL NATIONS WITHOUT EXCEPTION AND TO THE VERY BEST OF THEIR ABILITY!posted by: Gregorio Altamirano on 12.30.04 at 11:31 AM [permalink]
check out the latest figure --> the US = $ 350 million, Japan = $ 500 juta. suddenly rich nations are competing to donate! good for us, the victim nations!posted by: lenje on 12.30.04 at 11:31 AM [permalink]
This is a very sad time for many thousands of people. Time will tell who has done what to help those impacted by this disaster. There are many truly pathetic things one could argue about. This is one of them.
I would hope that disasters like this would pull the world'd people closer together. It is too bad that so many would rather point fingers and hate.
Forget the hate...................DONATE!
Brusterposted by: bruster on 12.30.04 at 11:31 AM [permalink]
Personally, I find it disgusting that the blame America crowd is using this horrible tregedy to milk even more sympathy for their hatred of the United States. Not to mention the blatent hypocrasy of the world in passing judgment on America at every turn. Aren't the people complaining about America NOT doing enough in Thailand and the Sudan the same people who are telling America to mind its own business and get out of the Middle East? Furthermore, the U.S. military does not come cheap to the U.S. tax payer, and considering the U.S. Air Force is leading the relief efforts (NOT the U.N.) I think Americans are dishing out more financial aid than the canadians and euros can even imagine. You're welcome world. But if you insist on bitching, let's look at American "stinginess" another way. It isn't the percentage of GDP of the DONOR nation that should be measured, it's the percentage of GDP of the RECIPIENT nation that should be measured. In other words, America may give a smaller percentage of its GDP to Poor country than precious sweet little ol' Holland, but America's donation makes up the largest percentage of Poor country's GDP. For example, Holland gives Jordan 2.5% of its GDP; America gives Jordan .2% of its GDP, yet, America's contribution makes up a larger percentage of Jordan's total GDP, 2% of its GDP comes from Holland and 10% comes from the evil, bad, selfish, mean, ugly, fat, child-killing, racist Americans. Again, you're welcome. Now bit me!posted by: Mario Santorelli on 12.30.04 at 11:31 AM [permalink]
Wealth creates wealth. The US encourages economic growth as it gives the US more wealth. Actually the US does not do enough as most of its FDI goes to other rich countries (EU and Canada, or at best China).
FDI is far more important than aid. So it is in the US's interest to aid and invest into other countries and to reduce barriers to wealth-creation there. Yet American maintains some of the tighest import duties in the world and some of the most-Stalinesque state-subsidisation policies too.
The US has not really granted freedom to many people. The UK has done the most in world history: democracies such as the US, Canada, Australia, India.. all came from the UK. Our singular failing was empire-guilt which made us vacate Africa too quickly (WWII debts owed to the US also meant we were very weak and had little option but to give up the Empire very quickly).
Concering Sudan. The Sudan is NOT starving, only a small section of the people are. It is called GENOCIDE. The world can not get aid to the easily as the Sudanese government takes it. We have two options:
To Mario Santorelli:
So what are you trying to prove in comparing the US with a total of about 300 million people with a country of about 15 million people? One could extrapolate this: a country 20 times as big as Holland should contribute at least 20 times as much as Holland to the GDP of Jordan. If 2 % of Joradn's GDP comes from Holland, than 40 % of it's GDP should come from the US, 8 % from the UK, 10 % from Germany, 7 % from France and 7 % from Italy etc. In other words, they could just sit there and receive the money. And it gets worse: maybe the US is giving Jordan a lot of aid because it has bigger strategic interests in the region than Holland. Adjusted to that fact, the US should give even more than 40 %. You see how ridiculous comparing apples and lemons can get?
If anything, one should compare the total global aid of the EU countries with the total global aid of the US. In terms of population, GDP, per capita income etc the EU and the US are more or less comparable. Comparing the US foreign aid with that of small member states doesn't make any sense, certainly when one starts making up his own criteria to do so.
Comparing the EU with the US might be difficult, because one should take into account private giving - only these numbers hardly exist and if they do exist at all they are corrupted by the fact that in most cases things are included that hardly could be defined as foreign aid. Next to that one should take into account things like compensations, investment linked to direct aid (if for example your aid can only be spent by the receiving country in spending it on products made in your own country that could hardly be described as altruistic aid, it's more a kind of hidden subsidy to your own industry.)
Even comparing the different EU countries might prove very difficult, because of the differences in the way people make private donations, the different rules and criteria the countries use to specify how and what aid should be given etc.
If anything, comparing the generosity would require much more than slapping around slef made statistics based on what could be scrambled by doing a google search. But of course, it is much more fun to use these self cooked statistics to bash whomever you want instead of actually doing something yourself to help these people in need.
posted by: eurodollar on 12.30.04 at 11:31 AM [permalink]
Nice reading all. Who really cares who donates what. Do we get a trophy if we donate more than France? Or Norway?
Hey all you Euro types... We give what we want and at the end of the day, that is all you are going to get.
If you still dont like us, too bad.posted by: Ed on 12.30.04 at 11:31 AM [permalink]
I think I've heard about enough on all of this. I am middle-class, 30, female, yadda-yadda-yadda. I am an American. Like most other middle-class Americans, I live paycheck to paycheck. I have no savings and no hope for savings because I have no children (and get no tax breaks). I donate blood every 2 months. I donate money when I can to where I see fit at the time of donation. I pay way too much in taxes, have no healthcare, and am fast becoming of the opinion that the US should secede from the UN.
I am disgusted that the US is so widely criticized for having the chutzpah to help defend underling countries during wars (anyone remember some world wars last century?) and support countries and people in need.
I don't care one single bit if the US Federal government is stingy with our countries' money. It's my tax dollars they are giving out.
I have a solution, though... how about we call in all of the debts owed to the US by they coutries that are criticizing the US & send it all to humanitarian aid?! We can bankrupt a number of countries, exceed every country's donations in every way, and not have to increase the tax rate on people like me who don't have any more to give.
I was always taught that the dollar amount is not the most important part of a gift... it is the willingness to give when you have little to offer and the intention to help. Our country has much to offer besides monetary donations. We offer service and expertise in crisis/disaster management, medical aspects, goods/supplies and manpower.
The US is engaged in a war on terrorism and we desperately need our military personnel at the site of that war in Iraq. Yet, we have taken steps to place military personnel and vessels in Indonisia and the other affected areas from the disaster- come what may.
I say to those who criticize the US as stingy or greedy -- wait until your country needs aid (humanitarian or military) from the country that has always been there to help everyone else (the US). Sooner or later, your day will come (just like everyone else's.
Remember as well that the US is also one of the youngest countries on the list of wealthy nations, and we often exceed our elders' contributions. We are not the only good nation in the world, but we are one of them.posted by: Helen on 12.30.04 at 11:31 AM [permalink]
Americans don't expect foreign aid when we have a disaster, and we would be insulted if foreign countries offered it. Americans simply bestow the same consideration onto the rest of the world. If we can makes something of ourselves (a former colony raped by europe) then the rest of the world can grow up and do the same. Americans, therefore, are the most egalitarian people on earth. Only snot nosed elitst fascist with a guilt complex look at the world with pity and wish to feed it like one would feed a poodle. Talk about insulting!posted by: Mario Santorelli on 12.30.04 at 11:31 AM [permalink]
My impression is that Americans are generous with disaster relief, but not so generous with the kind of relief required for longer term operations. I agree that private aid should be counted, but at least some is driven by immigrants from that country (e.g. South Asia in this case). Also, per-capita income is also important -- Portugal and Ireland are much poorer than the US, for instance. Japan contributes a lot to general assistance (not specific relief efforts, for instance).
I think a long term, consistent plan of relief is much more helpful than a sudden outflow on a disaster -- for one, consistent aid reduces the impact of a major disaster, and money is less likely to be wasted than it would be in a crisis situation.
But the fact is that a lot of hee Iraq warmongers have been touting human rights as a reason for the invasion (not surprising since every other reason has been shown to be a lie). If the US can spend $250 billion plus on a supposed humanitarian mission, its pretty reasonable to ask the warmongers why they think human rights justify a $250 billion expenditure in Iraq, but not one tenth of that in all the rest of the world.posted by: Pod Person on 12.30.04 at 11:31 AM [permalink]
In fact. foreign countries did offer aid after the World Trade Center terrorist attack.
And oes the phrase "Coalition of the WIlling" ring a bell ? While not foreign aid, the US was most definitely willing to "persuade" foreign countries to contribute to this so-called coalition in what is after all a form of foreign aid.
Not very familiar with finance, are we ? In fact, if countries or national banks were to start calling their debts in, the US would be one of the first to be bankrupted if Europe, China call in their debs. You might find that you have to give a lot more, whether you want to or not ..
posted by: Jon on 12.30.04 at 11:31 AM [permalink]
"(if for example your aid can only be spent by the receiving country in spending it on products made in your own country that could hardly be described as altruistic aid, it's more a kind of hidden subsidy to your own industry.)"
What's that about? If a gift of ones own products is given, that does benefit the giving country's industries and could be said to serve a dual purpose, but it is still a gift. Unless, of course, the products are not useful to the recipient (such as tulips from Holland or American paperback novels from the US, when what they really need is food). I haven't read any specific real examples, however, of a country sending products as aid that were not useful to the recipient.posted by: VOR on 12.30.04 at 11:31 AM [permalink]
Jon, I believe you suffer from the mass hysteria that plagues post modern man. Your self-defeating nihilism may be hip in college campuses and european coffee houses, but in the real world, you're just another monster.posted by: beatrice on 12.30.04 at 11:31 AM [permalink]
Americans dislike foreign aid for a number of reasons. 1st is too often the investment is wasted or even counter-productive. We've poured over $100M in the last 25 years and if anything the continent is worse off. Many times recipients of American largess turned leftist and became our enemy. As a rule Americans see foreign aid as an investment. We don't expect it to be paid back but to be put to good use such that more aid becomes unnecessary. As has been proven over and over again forever and a day, individuals are much better at this than governments. Socialism isn't cure, it's a disease.
A 2nd major reason is that so many governments are massively corrupt and/or inefficient. None moreso that the ossified UN. George Bush has been wise to direct American aid thru the military and the USAID organization, and to support private giving so aggressively. THis is why the US has been on the ground with over 50 helicopters aggressively providing rescue and relief work while the UN is still scheduling meetings.
Another, less important, but more interesting reason is political. Conservatives are especially suspicious of government pragrams and wasteful spending. Democrats are far more likely to favor this but have become the party of fiscal discipline. They've been raging against large deficits. Thus no serious democrat can consider raising foreign aid.
There are several other good reasons why Americans will insist foreign aid remain microscopic except for these major events. But the 1st two are enough. But don't dispair, private giving is quite substantial and growing rapidly. US economic growth is quite robust and appears poised to remain so. Americans can and will donate to worthy causes and efficient charities.posted by: rw on 12.30.04 at 11:31 AM [permalink]
you are woefully mis-informed regarding US public opinion on the UN. A large number of Americans, if not a majority, want to pull out of the UN. Its seen as massively corrupt and inefficient. A bureaucracy from hell. Its unlikely Americans would ever approve of budget increases for foreign aid. It's not possibile they'd send a dime of it to the UN.
Egeland is a fool on multiple levels. It was a bonehead stupid thing to say and even dumber to say it then. His supposed goal was to gather support for more giving so he deliberately pokes his finger in the American eye. What was he thinking? Does he really have no idea American support for the UN is at all time lows below 30%. We don't like him as it is and he's going to insult us?
Also, Egeland is clueless in suggesting Americans want higher taxes. That's complete nonsense. And if they did approve tax increases they would not go for foriegn aid. They only Americans who would consider tax increases are liberals. They are less than 18% of the population and shrinking. Egeland is a buffoon
>"(if for example your aid can only be spent by >the receiving country in spending it on products >made in your own country that could hardly be >described as altruistic aid, it's more a kind of >hidden subsidy to your own industry.)"
>What's that about? If a gift of ones own >products is given, that does benefit the giving >country's industries and could be said to serve >a dual purpose, but it is still a gift. Unless, >of course, the products are not useful to the >recipient (such as tulips from Holland or >American paperback novels from the US, when what >they really need is food). I haven't read any >specific real examples, however, of a country >sending products as aid that were not useful to >the recipient.
posted by: eurodollar on 12.30.04 at 11:31 AM [permalink]
>If we can makes something of ourselves (a former >colony raped by europe)
And who got raped when? The native AMericnas in loosing their land in the 19th century? The southern states in a devastating civil war because the resisted the North? The black slaves who had to fight for more hundred years to get their civil rights? The Japanese immigrants locked up in camps during World War 2? Methinks the raping was a good deal of work made by the Americans themselves.
Or, by raping, do you mean the massive capital investment of Europe throughout the 19th century which helped creating the basis of the American industry?
(oh no, don't bother us with that history shit it is so facts based society - we're beyond that in making our imperial reality ourselves.)posted by: eurodollar on 12.30.04 at 11:31 AM [permalink]
Jon, I believe you suffer from the mass hysteria that plagues post modern man.
Beatrice, could you be a little less specific, dearie ? Or are you one of those people who actually believe that the US could call in financial loans from around the world, not realizing that the US is the world's greatest creditor ?
Which contintent ? Africa ?
Not unless the aid came with huge strings attached.
And there are plenty of places where that has happened. India gets no food aid any more and indeed exports food. In any case, the point is that American foreign aid has generally been small enough in all but a couple of countries that it would be hard to see how it could make a major societal difference either way.
Very little foreign aid goes through the UN except that through UNICEF an the like, which are generally well regarded.
That was before they supported a $300 Billion plus program in Iraq ..
Americans are free to contribute or not as they want. But as I said, people both inside and outside the US find the idea of the US spending $300 B justified on humanitarian grounds in Iraq laughable.posted by: jont on 12.30.04 at 11:31 AM [permalink]
Bruster has a point.
If there was ever an event to justify putting partisan bickering aside, I would think that the tsunami is it. This is bigger than US politics. It's bigger than US/EU/UN rivalries. It's going to require both public action/finance and private contributions. It's going to require an ongoing effort for a span of years.
I suspect that it matters little to those who survived the tsunami where the aid comes from, or how much, just so long as it comes.posted by: PoqVaUSA on 12.30.04 at 11:31 AM [permalink]
So now Jan Egeland is being considered a hero for 'egging on' the Western nations, and getting credit for recent increases in giving? (See article.) It's a funny thing about diplomats and politicians: if the sun comes up while they're in office, it's a sure thing they'll take credit for it it they can!
This is one case where I for one don't really care who gets the credit, even though Egeland may not deserve it, just so long as the aid keeps flowing.posted by: PoqVaUSA on 12.30.04 at 11:31 AM [permalink]
yes Africa. I did proofread before I posted. I don't know how 1/2 a sentence got cut out.
By and large success stories for our aid are not common. There's simply too much corruption in the 3rd world. It's not just the UN. The UNICEF program gets more respect than the UN in general it's still not as well respected as other private programs. Moreover, the UN 'well' is so poisoned now Americans will not accept more funding thru ANY UN program except in special circumstances.
Iraq is not a factor in this discussion and it's clear you don't understand conservatives. I am willing to spend whatever it takes to protect our troops and keep them there until the innocent iraqi's have a chance at peace. Our military is nothing short of amazing. It effort has been far from perfect but the goal is noble.
It's interesting you bring up Iraq and our Military. Have you read about their efforts in Indonesia? And the funny thing is I didn't see a single person making the case America is cheap including this contribution in their numbers. Did you? They are almost alone is serving the disaster victims but they don't count. Canada has a 600 man emergency response team with boocoo supplies and plans. It's still sitting in Canada. They can't transport their teams to remote parts of Canada let alone Asia. But this grand effort by the USS Abraham Lincoln and various support ships does not count.
Their calculations are fraudalent and the people making them are frauds.
If you read Amercian newspapers or watch Network news you will notice some commentators focus with some frequency as to what the world thinks of America. You can be almost certain these are liberals. You don't often hear conservatives discuss this unless its in reaction to a claim made by a liberal. There is an obvious reason for that. Conservatives don't much care what the rest of the world thinks. Such teenage behavior presupposes we did not think about our actions in advance or we're otherwise insecure. We do things because we think its the right thing to do. Liberals/Europeans have every right to disagree. We have every right to ignore them. The discussion of American stinginess is a great example. Those making the case FOR have an agenda. Those in Politics (Egeland) or the press with an agenda can usually be spotted immediately. Egeland was fully discredited in minutes. He has zero credibility in America and he will never have more than that. Conservatives will listen to criticism but only from serious people. This would exclude the UN and much, if not all, of the leftist around the world.
One of the really cool moments after the '04 election was the headline in a British paper, I think the guardian, "How can 59,000,000 Americans be so dumb?" What was so cool about it was the pure irony. Obviously intended as an insult to conservatives, I loved it. I got a laugh and still chuckle periodically. I could give a crap what anyone at the Guardian thinks. Yet the folks who voted for Kerry were extremely embarrased. "What will they think of us?" Like teenagers worried about being obstrasized for not being cool, they seriouly lament these 'attacks' from their 'fellow world citizens. This same mindset holds with Egeland and his ilk. Obviously Egeland has been furious with American tax policy for a very long time and has been waiting for his opportunity to let
The bottom line to all this is that the agenda driven critics don't have much influence. Their agendas always distort their logic. Same with agenda news. Once you lose your credibility, i.e. Egeland, Dan Rather, The UN, France, etc. it does not come back. Critics of American aid can criticize all they want. Some liberals will get heartburn but otherwise no one is listening.posted by: rw on 12.30.04 at 11:31 AM [permalink]
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