A United Nations representative recently made comments to the effect that the world’s richest nations were being “stingy” in how much they were contributing towards tsunami relief, drawing a defensive response from the United States, whose $35 million contribution (up from an initial paltry $15 million) has apparently exhausted its emergency relief fund. The article quotes W as saying that the United States has contributed 40% of all relief aid this year, and I have no reason to dispute that figure. However, the devastation in the wake of the tsunami clearly requires higher contributions from all nations. For example, as I write this Spain has pledged $67 million and Great Britain has pledged $97 million, a clear sign that the United States needs to reevaluate its contribution to relief efforts.
In response to the United States’ alleged emergency relief fund woes, I have a simple solution: take some of the $30-$40 million being spent on W’s upcoming inauguration and put it toward a real cause. That number reportedly doesn’t even include costs associated with security, so the total being spent on the pomp and circumstance associated with this ceremony is probably appallingly higher. I know that such grandiose events don’t come cheap, but this is ridiculous! I think that W should put his money where his mouth is and make an attempt to curtail some of these expenses, putting them towards humanitarian efforts instead. This wouldn’t be the first time he has wasted an opportunity to reach out to the world, and such a massive waste of money doesn’t exactly make America look magnanimous in the face of such hardship and devastation.
If you’d like to contribute to disaster relief, I’ve added a link to the Red Cross to the left sidebar. I also noticed that Amazon.com put a prominent one-click donation banner for the Red Cross on its front page, and at the time of this posting it has collected almost $6 million in donations! Additionally, Google has created a Tsunami Relief page that provides links to relief organization sites and sites with information about the disaster.
Update: In the comments, czar noted that the United States has upped its contribution towards tsunami relief efforts to $350 million, a most welcome increase. I still think W should have taken some time from his vacation at the “Western White House” in Crawford, Texas to respond to this disaster much earlier. The initial pledge from the United States was pretty stingy, but the lack of any kind of official presidential statement for almost three days created just as negative an impression about the American government’s concern over the disaster.