Wednesday, December 29, 2004

Are we stingy?

I doubt that anything I can add about the earthquake, tsunami and resulting deaths would be better written or more profound then what is already out there. 70 thousand plus dead, with a final total of dead no where in sight is a tragedy so great, it boggles the mind. Consider if Redmond and Bellevue were instantly depopulated, and you might see a similar amount of devastation. Nothing we have been through prepared us for what this means.

We endure earthquakes, tornados, floods, volcanoes and hurricanes in our country. A few hundred dead makes a huge headline and we collectively feel devastated. And yet it pales in comparison.

We responded to the tragedy as we normally do: with money, aid and even an aircraft carrier.

And then a UN official says we are stingy. I think its an unfair comment.

True, if you look at our gross national product, $35 million is peanuts. But it isn't chump change either, and it also doesn't account for private donations and US based charities and aid organizations. As a people, as a nation, I don't think we are stingy at all.

A radio caller today whined that the UN and the world community never helped us after a hurricane so its unfair that they put such an expectation on us, but that's not fair either, as no hurricane left us with 70 thousand dead and more dying and we have an infrastructure and ability to help ourselves. Indonesia does not.

But still, it occurs to me that when we pledge $100 Billion+ to liberating Iraq, $35 million is a somewhat small price to help a country in immediate and grave need. Neither the Indonesian or Iraq chose their tragedy, and I think both are equally deserving of aid.

I also wonder about what it means when each of the main political parties casually spends millions of dollars just to reelect a candidate. Maybe the Democrat and Republican Parties can unload some spare change to the Red Cross?

Then I remember that I probably spend thousands of dollars annually on soda, espresso and potato chips, or other non-essentials. What does that say for me, I wonder.

So while I wouldn't say we are stingy, I might wonder if we, our leaders and our Government sometimes don't have our priorities as straight as we think we do.