Thursday, December 30, 2004

A Little Perspective

So I'm piecing together what happened while I was away, and here is how it looks like it went down:

1.) Sunday, Dec. 26, an earthquake with a magnitude of 9.0--the biggest in 4 decades--hits SE Asia and sets off a tsunami of incredible devastation.

2.) The first offer from the US was 15 million, with Colin Powell on the case, and USAID Director Ed Fox promising, oh, at least another $10m:
"Powell said $100,000 had already been given to each of India, Indonesia, Sri Lanka and the Maldives, and the United States was in talks to contribute $4 million to the International Red Cross.
"It's anticipated that we'll add -- at least immediately -- another probably $10 million for a total of about $15 million in our initial response to this tragedy," Fox said. "
3.) Now it's up to 35 million with a vague promise of more in the future.

4.) Bush, eager to make excuses for the appearance of cheapness, and undeterred by the prospect of flaunting the extent of his ignorance, pipes up with this:
"I felt like the person who made that statement was very misguided and ill-informed,' Bush said.
He noted that in 2004, the United States spent $2.4 billion on humanitarian relief to cover disasters, adding, `That's 40 percent of all the relief aid given in the world last year."
And playing the "good dog" soldier to the last, Colin Powell chimes in with the same note:
"Powell said the United States "has given more aid in the last four years than any other nation or combination of nations in the world."
But a look at the stats, broken down relatively by % of GNP shows that the US has been consistently and always at the bottom for years, behind such tiny countries as Luxembourg, Austria, and Finland, and trailing powerhouses like Japan and the UK. The freepers are all over this "insult" to the US, babbling the usual "if the UN doesn't like it we can just pull our big bucks outta there" line. But if you want to know the truth, there's more info on the US and other countries' aid histories, Global Issues' website is a treasure trove of good data and comparative stats, as well as information to put it all into context.

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