Wednesday, December 29, 2004

Bush's Fuzzy Math on Tsunami Relief

President Bush is calling for an apology after UN emergency relief coordinator Jan Egeland called the response of the world's rich nations to the enormous tragedy in Asia "stingy."

His argument is that the US gives more in humanitarian aid than any other country, and he's right. So, that should be the end of the story. But, as is often the case with President Bush, what he leaves unsaid speaks volumes.

Here's a key quote from the AP story linked to above:

The U.S. government is always near the top in total humanitarian aid dollars - even before private donations are counted - but it finishes near the bottom of the list of rich countries when that money is compared to gross national product.
Here's another quote from a story in the Washington Post:

Among the world's two dozen wealthiest countries, the United States often is among the lowest in donors per capita for official development assistance worldwide, even though the totals are larger. According to the Paris-based Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development of 30 wealthy nations, the United States gives the least — at 0.14 percent of its gross national product, compared with Norway, which gives the most at 0.92 percent.
So maybe we're not so generous after all. The enormity of the disaster and the urgency of the current situation demands a greater response, and we can afford it. The 2005 Federal Budget is in the neighborhood of $2.4 trillion. Surely we can find a little wiggle room somewhere to help alleviate the worst humanitarian disaster in recent memory. Here's a suggestion: the budget for the unworkable Missile Defense shield for 2005 is $9.2 billion. $35M represents a paltry .38% of that $9.2 billion in wasted taxpayer funds. If we were to scrap even one failed missile test, we could perhaps save another 100,000 lives.

Fortunately—our government notwithstanding—the American people tend to be a generous lot. Amazon.com is collecting donations for the American Red Cross on their website, and as of this post, they have collected $2,597,139.80. It shames our government that this amount, collected from a mere 45,370 people, is equal to fully 7.4% of the total aid so far announced by the Bush administration. (UpdateAs of Jan. 2, the total stands at $12,624,585.37!)

Donate to Tsunami Disaster Relief:

American Red Cross



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