December 30, 2004

Controversy (And Spookies)

I received a few emails yesterday about my post regarding the tsunami. A few folks took issue with my use of the word "only" when discussing the $35 million aid pledge from the US. Everyone had good points. Its true that the US is the single greatest contributor of aid in the world. I would expect nothing less. But I still maintain $35 million is stingy. This is a country that awards million dollar prizes on reality shows. A country in which lottery jackpots routinely hit the double or triple-digit million dollar marks. The District of Columbia alone will be spending in the neighborhood of $500 million just to build a stadium for its new baseball team. I think, in a country so prosperous, so eager to spread its values and principles around the globe, we should expect our government to give more. Because the message it sends if we don't is that we're perfectly happy to blow the hell out of countries we find offensive but unwilling to help those in the most need.

Links to aid organizations as well as a couple fine bloggers trying to do their parts have been placed in the right-hand menu. Please, continue to give if you can.

On a happier and less controversial note, Beth and I had a chance to hang out with two of our oldest friends...coincidentally they're married and coincidentally they met at our wedding. Its been somewhere around 15 years since we lived in the same state (hell, country at times), but it was nice catching up. Spookies rawk, man! (Scott got that...the rest of you didn't. That's perhaps subject matter for a whole other entry.)

Posted by Chris at December 30, 2004 10:18 AM

$30M is always alot of money, but considering the $80B George spent on his war in Iraq, its pathetic. I think $30M is the cost of one tank. It shows the world where our government's priorities are. Shameful and embarassing.

Posted by: Jon in Michigan at December 30, 2004 10:32 AM

What Jon said. My friend and I were discussing the tanks last night.

Also compare it to one movie made, or celebrity weddings costing well over a million. Hell, compare it to the Victoria's Secret campaigns that supermodel has been a part of.

35 mill is a lot to mortals like most of us, but its peanuts when you think of what its going to cost to get these countries on their feet again.

Posted by: Lisa at December 30, 2004 10:51 AM

$35 million is what the US spends on four hours worth of today in Iraq.

We can afford a LOT more.

Posted by: alektra at December 30, 2004 11:02 AM

I absolutely agree. Why don't we take a little of each CEO's salary of the Fortune 500 and give it as aid? Oh, they wouldn't go for that would they?

Posted by: Jazzy at December 30, 2004 11:08 AM

I agree with you all. Lach and I were discussing this last night when we heard that Bill & Melinda Gates donated 3 million dollars and has raised 3.5 million for the cause. Those personal donations alone are nearly 1/4th of the amount our government can afford? I don't think so.

Posted by: Bayou at December 30, 2004 11:16 AM

Add to that the following perspectives:

- With $35,000,000 -- the U.S. is contributing just 16% of the overall cash aid pledged worldwide thus far.

- $35,000,000 is less than the Republican Party plans to spend on Bush's inauguration 'festivities'.

- To illustrate the misperceptions that've been created -- according to a poll, most Americans believed the U.S. spends 24% of its budget on foreign aid. In actuality, the U.S. spends less than 1/4 of 1%.

Posted by: Tonya at December 30, 2004 11:30 AM

Well, you have to remember that it's of the utmost importance to protect our own interests, i.e. billions to the state under Shrub's bro's watch to rebuild after the hurricanes (I mean, at LEAST 25 dead there, right?) and gazillions in oil countries. We don't have any interests in S.E. Asia other than exotic getaways, hookers that do mindblowing acts and maybe some pretty furniture. Indian call centers, you say? There's still plenty of land in the northern part of the country. Move 'em up north.

Now, when the second phase of world domination starts and we need to start converting them damn Buddhists, we'll loosen the purse strings a bit.

(/bitter sarcasm, for those who didn't catch that.)

Posted by: Broad at December 30, 2004 11:58 AM

Aid organizations are ALWAYS the way to go on this sort of thing. Charity begins with the individual, not with the government machine.

Posted by: Ginny at December 30, 2004 12:23 PM

Actually, Chris, I think you're right to say "only." I as a rule do not "condone" the government doing stuff like this (charity should be an individual initiative, not a government thing) but for huge disasters like this I think the argument for exclusively individual donations is harder to maintain. I think it says something less than good about the US and its priorities when you see the disparity between what has been promised and what has been spent on other "activities."

It is just So Many People, so many deaths. It is beyond comprehension to think of this many people dying from a single event; I cannot even fathom.

Posted by: girl at December 30, 2004 12:39 PM

right on brotha. i think china has already pledged $60 million and like someone already said, $35 million is what we spend in Iraq daily.

Posted by: laura at December 30, 2004 12:52 PM

Totally agree with you, Chris. It's a pittance. Individuals will have to stp up to the plate to fill in where dubya fails again.

Posted by: Keri at December 30, 2004 1:04 PM

I think you're spot on with the only $35m remark. Given that Britain is now the single largest contributer with 50m (that's $96m) it just puts the US pledge into greater shame.

Posted by: Anakalia at December 30, 2004 1:20 PM

I definitely agree with you. If every employed person in America donated 1 dollar form their next paycheck look at the difference we could make. 35 million dollars is a drop in the bucket. I am personally very dissapointed. America can do better.

Posted by: at December 30, 2004 1:47 PM

Sorry the previous comment was from me. Great entry by the way

Posted by: Rachelle at December 30, 2004 1:49 PM

I was watching some morning news show, I don't remember the name. Good Morning America maybe? Anyways... They were saying that GW didn't offer enough money either. Bush has pledged $30 million, while Britain has pledged $96 million. According to the Red Cross so far they have gotten 18 million, more then half of Bush's amount. Not only that but good ol' GW waited 3 days before coming out to say something. 3 DAYS?! That is outrageous!!


Posted by: Mary Jo at December 30, 2004 2:13 PM

Um, I hate to be the odd (wo)man out, but didn't they say that $35mil was preliminary? That's a pretty important word - from everything I've heard, the $35 million was just an initial donation, but they're going to give more as soon as they can approve it and find out exactly what the needs are. Meaning, they may be able to give more than just cash, but other forms of support as well. I think it's sad that we're all jumping on the government's back about "only" $35 million. It's preliminary, people, give them a break.

Posted by: Heather at December 30, 2004 2:13 PM

As an update...Amazon has collected over $5 million in donations to the Red Cross Disaster Relief Fund. Cool.

updated Amazon information

Posted by: girl at December 30, 2004 3:22 PM

Right on, brother. Well said.

Posted by: Heather at December 30, 2004 3:36 PM

I know some destroyers and enormous C-whatever cargo planes have been diverted to the region to help give aid - does that count as part of the 35 million?

Posted by: bisous at December 30, 2004 3:54 PM

"Only" was the correct term to use in my opinion Chris. The United States is at an all-time high for hatred towards us, and a bigger gesture would've surely help towards that. The World Junior Hockey Championships are in my town this week, and the reception from foreign fans is not good towards us. They openly tell us how they despise the U.S. $35M seems a bit of an insult. With 5 million people without basic necessities like water, food, shelter, or health care it seems pretty silly to be offering $7 to each of them for that. Where are this country's priorities?

Posted by: tone at December 30, 2004 4:15 PM

I suggest everyone get a handle on the facts before we go patting ourselves on the back about how great and philanthropic we are. A lot of promises have been made, but we rarely if ever dole out humanitarian need just because of our big hearts. Read the latest editorial on the NY Times and they pretty much spell it out.

just considering the fact that we are spending 30 million dollars on the inauguration next month, should put this in some perspective for people. 10 of the countries affected by this tragedy are some of the poorest nations in the world, they need help, and shame on us for initially only pledging $15 million. That's ridiculous, and shameful.

Posted by: chris at December 30, 2004 5:07 PM

The problem isn't that we "only" donated $35 million. The problem(s) WERE the four major hurricanes in Florida, the wildfires in Colorado and California, (do I need to go on?) We've exhausted a lot of our donation sources with the natural disasters within our borders. I think $35 is amazing when you consider these other items.

Posted by: BillH at December 30, 2004 5:28 PM

hey BillH, over 100,000 are dead. You try and rationalize an overspent budget to them...

Posted by: Chris at December 30, 2004 5:57 PM

I get spookies!!! Did you win them?

As for the 35m...*grumble*

Posted by: Holly at December 30, 2004 6:30 PM

35 million....even if preliminary, is half of what Spain is giving and less than half of what Great Britain is giving. Excuse me, aren't we the "Leader of the free world"?? Are we not (supposedly) the richest country? We can throw money away on a war that is unwinnable, and costing a lot of lives in a country that never asked us to go there, but we can't even give more than is spent in Iraq in 4 hours. Disgraceful. I'm sure some people will take issue at what I have said, but hey, this is my opinion, everyone else is entitled to theirs.

Posted by: Nina at December 30, 2004 7:46 PM

I'm a little curious - if the United States had given more preliminarily than they did, would you all be complaining that we're giving too much because of our national deficit, or because we need aid here at home? It just strikes me as odd how quickly everyone chose to forget the word 'preliminary' and immediately pounce on President Bush for the figure of $35 million. Do you realize how much $35 million is when converted to the currencies of the affected nations? In India, with 43 rupees to the dollar, a mere $25 will buy 100 litres of water. $35 million is not piddly-snot, and like I said before, it's preliminary. Why turn this into a partisan argument? We don't need to take a horrific natural disaster and fill it with political hatred. The point is, the government will be sending more! So why is this even an argument? Even those who are saying aide should be privatized are complaining. This makes no sense to me whatsoever.

Posted by: Heather at December 30, 2004 7:59 PM

It's hard to write anything political, whether you're right or not, without stirring a few pots. But who cares. It's your blog, your right to say whatever you think.

If we're spending billions to rebuild an Iraq that is full of people who don't even want us there, we should be able to spend billions on the people that WANT and NEED serious help.

People that want to argue this point are just stubborn and are the same exact people that would be begging other countries to help if the same thing happened to us.

$35 might not be 'piddly snot' but it's not even a drop in the bucket for what these people need to eat, survive, get medical attention, and rebuild.

I just don't understand where people's hearts are. It's so sad.

Posted by: RockStar Mommy at December 30, 2004 8:47 PM

I agree whole-heartedly rock star mommy!!!
And no, I would NOT complain that we were giving too much because of our national deficit, these are peoples LIVES that have been destroyed.

Posted by: Nina at December 30, 2004 9:35 PM

To add to this post, I heard on the radio that private donations are surpassing that of all governments. In such a terrible tragedy it's nice to see that the world can be kind and come together.

Posted by: azzy at December 30, 2004 11:29 PM

BillH, you really didn't just say that, did you!?!?? We're spending HOW MUCH on Iraq a day, and you're going to posit that we don't have the money to send over to S.E. Asia!?!? Seriously!?!?

Posted by: Broad at December 31, 2004 1:08 AM

I'm avoiding all controversy - just makin' the New Years greetings rounds. Hope you and yours have a good New Years and a great year to come!

Posted by: pie at December 31, 2004 5:42 AM

Like I said, preliminary - the US Government has just pledged $350 million to relief efforts, as well as additional ground troups to aid in the generation of clean water and provide further support (and no, those assets have not been counted among the $350 million.) They just had to figure out exactly what was needed, and it turned out they needed to do more than just throw money at the problem. I think that's more than generous and a very responsible yet merciful approach to a serious problem.

Posted by: Heather at December 31, 2004 2:33 PM

I keep telling myself, just stay out of this. But I didn't notice anyone mention that the reason the $35 million is preliminary is because the US has to take the time to assess the damage and determine the need. Would it really be a good idea to rush over there with a billion bandaides only to find out what is really needed is penicillin? Isn't it on everyone's mind that the government spends wastefully? Hmmm. Seems to me some thought is actually being put into this.

Posted by: wlfldy at January 3, 2005 8:06 AM