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December 30, 2004



Personally, I do not see how our giving, as it relates to a percentage of our GDP is even relevant. The miniscule offer of $15M was revised upwards to $35M, and as is usual with our government monies, will continue to be revised upwards. I do not think that this figure represents the costs of the goods or services being offered by our armed forces either. As with other tragedies, the American citizens will likely offer up more of their own personal dollars to relief agencies.

Why do these issues always get turned into some contest? If we want to keep score, I would suspect that we have led the pack in nearly every instance.


True that JD. It hasn't been a week yet and I already grow weary of the politicization of this tragedy. Aren't we supposed to be coming together in an outpouring of international support or something? What's all this petty bickering crap going on? When in doubt blame the Media.


weary is the word. I'm sickened by it, both on the right and left, it's hideous.

The UN official has done the right thing, he's taking heat, but no doubt also spurred greater giving. He did not say the US and I don't think he meant that, he meant Western Nations.

I agree with you in spirit, that we can all give and prove the value of private giving.

But I disagree also, I think we should wholeheartedly attack such problems with our IRS funded infrastructure.

I wish we jumped on problems like this with the ferver we attacked Iraq. The benefits of war to the economy are in the busy work of rebuilding things, feeding the workers helping out.

We ought to be on the job... and not just sending money, but deploying aid forces with equipment, et cetera.

But again, I think it's ridiculous the finger pointing, and the blogosphere has gotten it bad. I'm mostly staying off blogs between Dec 24 to Jan 2, but still I've gotten the taste of these bleating just by checking in breifly.


Pyrrho, I agree that our tax funded infrastructure should help, in the form of our military, our helicopters and anything else. I think for money donations (in a perfect world) tax collection should not be necessary. I think the International Red Cross and the UN should perhaps be the ones to coordinate the aid. The Red Cross is just amazing and custom made to do this kind of thing. I wonder, am I right in thinking that it is a Conservative goal to get tax dollars out of charitable giving? I read today on Yahoo News:
“At the federal penitentiary in Leavenworth, Kan., Islamic Connections got more than $50,000 to help inmates who are about to be freed and who volunteer to participate and pick one of six Islamic programs to follow. Activities include a two-week spiritual retreat and six weeks of intense Quran study.”



I agree in principle. But there is a problem. The government, to my way of thinking, is an infrastructural organization, a national cooperative to ensure a basic infrastructure. The infrastructure is there for every day needs, roads, running water, and for emergency needs, FEMA, the military. Charity cannot provide a guarantee, however well it works, it cannot be a guarantee.

This is an international event, but the world is our market and our partner. It's in our best interest as a nation if these areas recover (and recover with a good feeling for the US). So as a practical matter I suspect that even on principle one cannot move "charity" away from government because sometimes charity is charity and sometimes it's basic infrastructural guarantees.

Winston Smith

Interesting. http://digbysblog.blogspot.com/2005_01_02_digbysblog_archive.html#110477094504370654> The so-called Christian Right appears to show virtually no interest whatsoever in this calamity.


Maybe their web developers are all on vacation and they are still having trouble with that hmlt... hltm... whatever you call it, it will burn in hell.



Just one question - where is Digby's link to a charity?

I'll be frank; I'm tired of the contest to determine who is the most compassionate. Let's just hope everyone does what they can.


Why is everybody trying to keep score ?! The need to find political utility in human suffering absolutely drives me batty. Who says having something on a website constitutes the entire extent of what relief a person, group, or organization might offer? If Winston wrote a check for $1000 to UNICEF, but did not put it on his website, does that mean that he is an uncaring, uncompassionate oaf ? Maybe all of those uncompassionate Christians that Winston and Digby would like to denigrate contributed at their local churches. But, then it would not be a story to those that wish to make political hay out of a natural tragedy.

Winston Smith

Well, I think hubris and JD miss the point. It's not that evangelical Christians are stingy: it's impossible to know the size of their individual gifts. It's that these ORGANIZATIONS OF MINISTRY apparently disclose no interest in addressing their flocks' attention to a colossal human calamity.


Oh, PLEASE. You SO did not say "organizations of ministry." You said "The Christian Right." You're just trying to play a game of Gotcha, and now you're backpedalling.

MoveOn.org didn't have a front-page plea for aid when I checked.


Just a little background on the purposes of someo f the organizations that are mentioned in the article.

The AFA acording to their website: "represents and stands for traditional family values, focusing primarily on the influence of television and other media – including pornography – on our society"

The Christian coalition describes itself this way : "The Christian Coalition of America offers people of faith the vehicle to be actively involved in shaping their government - from the County Courthouse to the halls of Congress."

Mr Falwell's website describes its purpose as "to promote traditional family values and battle the liberals who would attempt to destroy those godly principles. We still hold to the four main tenets of the original Moral Majority as it was established in 1979: 1) pro-family, 2) pro-life, 3) pro-defense and, 4)pro-Israel." (I feel sick to my stomach after reading this...)

And Move On says that it is: "working to bring ordinary people back into politics. With a system that today revolves around big money and big media, most citizens are left out."

Also, neither the NAACP nor the ACLU have mentions of the Tsunami disaster on their websites

NONE of these organizations are humanitarian organizations. Therefore it would be going against their "Mission Statement" or whatever you want to call it to be pushing for donations for a disaster. So I do not think we can criticize them for not encouraging donations etc. Some companies like Google, Amazon and Ebay have posted places to donate on their website, but the only links I found on news sites were as ads not as links within their websites.

So I think the fundamental issue with this whole arument is assuming that the Christian Right are the ONLY people not doing anything. A lot of people are doing things through the appropriate channels, but we cannot turn every business and website in the US into a donation machine. (As cool as that would be) It probably woudn't be great for the economy, people still need to live there lives.

I wish I could see what these websites posted after 9/11, I would expect a similar response.

Winston Smith

"Move On" doesn't purport to be a group of radical clerics.


A sneaky good way to give money was devised by my cousin and her friend who works for a large corporation. This corporation (and I'm sure there are many like it) matches donations dollar-for-dollar, so she's volunteering to accept personal checks and funnel any donations through her and her company. I guess you have to trust her.

Hooray for large corporations?

Also, with the graphic horrors we see every day now, and the death toll possibly doubling to over 200,000, my brother came across a bizarre piece of news that surprised me and that I would never have considered, that among all the human carnage on the beaches and in the ruins, there are no dead animals.


Yeah, I heard that. Apparently all of the animals knew about the earthquake on some level. I guess they are more sensitive to changes in weather than us, or something. Also I heard that when some people saw the ocean receed before the wave they went out on the beach to look and some to pick up the beached fish. I wonder how common this was, I wonder how many people could have been saved by any type of warning.


Winston : You were wrong in attempting to smear the conservative Christian groups by trying to show their alleged indifference to human suffering. Suffice it to say their organizations are not humanitarian aid societies, not organizations of ministry, and certainly do not claim to be radical clerics. Is it not possible to put your dislike of all things conservative or Republican aside ?

I would like to make a couple of comments about the donations for disasters.

The amount of money pledged by a government is not necessaritly the amount of money that will actually donated by a government.

There is no national or international watchdog that keeps track of the money promised by governments. And there is certainly no national or international institution, that can hold a government accountable and legally demand the money they pledged.

So, if you would like to keep score at all, then maybe you should look at the money actually provided by a governement, not by the amount of money they pledge.

Secondly: Current disasters are always the favourite cause for people to donate money to. In the wake of these disasters, other suffering is easily forgotten or ignored. That can lead to a number of problems. Money given specifically for the flood victims, can not be used in any other way by the organizations. Sometimes, their use is so restricted, that by the time the money can be put to its intended use, it is not needed anymore.

As an example, I would like to look at the recent earthquake in Iran. Just for your amusement: Do you remember when the quake happened? Do you remember the name of the town that was hardest his? Do you remember how many peoeple (to the nearest 10.000) died in the quake? Do you remember how much money the government pledged to help? And, for 10 points, do you remember how much money was actually given?

The UN is still struggling to wrench money from the governments who pledged to help. Many of the people in the region are still waiting for any kind of substantial aid. Yet, does anybody really care? Is the press or the population, the only true watchdog, shaming the administration into ponying up the dough they promised?

In additional, a huge amount of the aid, specifically donated for the earthquake was earmarked emergency relief. I would assume that this includes medical aid, tents, water and food rations, ... A large amount of this emergency relief is now in warehouses or on the dump. It is just not needed anymore. This money could now have been to good use... either for the tsunami victims, or for long term aid, like rebuilding the city, schools, roads, sanitation in Iran. But, alas, the money was given specifically for emergency aid for the earthquake.

So, my suggestion, donate money to a large aid organization, but don't earmark it specifically for the tsunami. If you donate money to an organization, you should trust it enough that it will put the money to good use. And really, what do you care if your money saves a tsunami orphan in Sri Lanka, or a civil war orphan in Afrika?


Last post was by me. :) Yes, I am back from my hiatus. Happy New Year to all of you.

Oh, and by the way, I also have a new post up on my blog. ;) (Ahh, I love shameless self promotion.)


As if on cue, the BBC looks at some of the problems with donations in emergency situations:


Careful, it contains spoilers on the questions I asked a couple of posts up. ;)

To me, this is all the more a reason to donate money to an organization, and not for a specific relief effort.

Winston Smith

JD: “[Christian Right] organizations are not humanitarian aid societies, not organizations of ministry,"
Quite so; yet, when it suits their purposes, they purport to be both.

“and certainly do not claim to be radical clerics.” You’re right. That’s simply a more accurate description than “ministry.”

“Is it not possible to put your dislike of all things conservative or Republican aside?”
Not at this point, no; I just finished listening to an hour of Rush Limbaugh bellowing that to object to US soldiers engaging in torture, is to commit treason.

hrun: Thanks for the BBC link.


I think everyone who thinks that the use of torture is justified should be forced to endure 24 hours of similar treatment and see if they change their tune. I volunteer to administer Rush's portion.


It’s not that the people in the Bush admin like Gonzales and Bybee think that torture is justified, they just feel that it is possible to do everything short of killing a person and it is not considered torture. I wrote a letter to my senators asking that they not confirm Gonzales and it is posted on Hrun’s blog, check it out and use it if you like. Gonz is not our guy unless you think it is ok to hurt someone just short of pain of organ failure and death, and even that is ok if Bush says it is necessary in his war on terror. I think if Saddam had Gonzales as his lawyer he would probably get off on most charges, especially those regarding torture because torture is ok in the name of national security, and it’s also ok if it is not your primary objective (thinks Gonz). Wasn’t I brought up to hate the Russians because they treated people like that? Or it was because they imprisoned people indefinitely without a trial…


While I am ranting, here is something totally off topic, but it sprung into my mind as supreme irony. Bush had such faith in the American legal system, and he trusted the result of jury’s decisions so much that he allowed152 people to be executed in Texas while he was governor, more than any other governor in history. He sure trusted the jury on those ones. Now, Bush has so little faith in the American legal system that he is going around complaining about junk lawsuits that, I suppose, fool stupid jurors. What is his cure? Well it’s not a way to make sure junk lawsuits do not win in court. It is simply to cap rewards on all medical lawsuits whether they are junk or not. So does he have so much faith in our legal system to think that jurors could even be trusted with someone’s life, or so little faith that he has to come in behind stupid jurors and limit awards in all cases junk or not? Some people where I work leave early while still on the clock. Others work their full shift. I suppose if I was Bush, my solution to people leaving early and getting paid for it would be to cut everyone’s pay. Brilliant!


sweetchuck : Nice non-sequeter ... Though I do not need to tell you, there is a substantial difference between the standards of proof required in criminal and civil matters.

Winston : At least you are willing to admit that you have an internal and inherent negative bias towards all things conservative or Republican.


JD, non-sequitur or not: the fact remains. Bush claims the system is broken, but he won't fix what is broken. He wants to remove one sympton, which will still leave behind a system that in his eyes should be considered broken.

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