1. Poll figures of donations to the earthquake/tsunami relief efforts.
At the time of posting, these are the statistics.
Do you plan to make a donation to aid victims of the Asian tsunamis?
I've already contributed: 11%
I plan to contribute: 34%
I'm not going to contribute: 55%
Total respondents: 10,560
2. Stingy Americans? UN official's comment hits nerve.
Let's get something straight here. At the time of posting, the latest figures of the death toll are eighty thousand and the risk of waterborne and other diseases is so high that the toll is expected to at least double. It is feared that ultimately, the Indonesian province of Aceh will contribute eighty thousand to the deaths alone - I just watched a flyover of a town once home to 10,000, where only about 40 people can be seen alive. That is a perfect illustration of the destruction, and countries on both sides of an entire ocean have suffered deaths. This isn't some disaster you can just ignore, you can't just say "how sad, too bad" and go about your life as if nothing has happened. This is catastrophe on a scale that is unimagineable and thankfully rare. To see that over five thousand people out of ten thousand - one in every two - are not even willing to contribute is simply disgusting. To think that people are willing to just turn around and do nothing is unbelieveable. Are these people that selfish that they cannot afford to donate even five dollars and forego an afternoon snack? Imagine if people decided to not eat fast food one day and donated that money to charity - imagine the incredible difference that would make. Imagine if we got over ourselves for just a second to do something generous for someone else. Humanity would be better for it.
HOWEVER, instead of contributing to something bigger and more important than ourselves, we try to defend our actions. If you ever wanted proof that the UN has no backbone, it comes in the form of emergency relief co-ordinator Jan Egeland trying to play down his statements after the US took offense to his accusations that the West is stingy - the entire West, not the freakin' USA [get over yourselves, there's plenty of West out there]. The truth of the matter is that the West is stingy and Egeland should have stood up to the USA and said that it is the worst of the bunch. I am absolutely flabbergasted that not only are US representatives taking offense to Egeland's statement of FACT, they are also bragging about America's contribution. Percentage-wise, the US is the stingiest of all countries, despite the fact it is the wealthiest. I don't care how much the US gives in raw dollar terms; it could give so much more but it doesn't. If you level the playing field, all other nations are giving in a far superior manner to the United States. To have the audacity to brag about one's giving when it is so stingy and appalling is sheer arrogance. And uh, for what is America already disliked? Oh, that's right, arrogance! Why are these statements by representatives stupid but not surprising?
It comes down to this ...
Statement from article: "That's a European standard, this percentage that's used," [US Agency for International Development admnistrator Andrew] Natsios said. "The United States, for 40 years, has never accepted these standards that it should be based on the gross national product. We base it on the actual dollars that we spent."
Translation: "The current worldwide standard makes us look appallingly bad, so we are going to come up with a lame excuse to use a standard that makes us look superior."
Hop off the high horse, open your wallet, and give what you can. I am sure all nations could afford to donate more than they are, but the US in particular could dig deep. It is, after all, the world's most prosperous nation and could afford to donate much larger sums. President Bush's inaugriation will cost US$30-40 million, and while he should do the honourable thing and donate that money to the relief effort while having a quiet ceremony (as proposed by preachermanfeed), we all know he won't. I'm proud that the Townsville city council in northern Queensland have chosen to cancel New Year's Eve celebrations to donate the money to relief efforts, and I can only hope other governments from local to federal levels will follow suit.
Now is not a time to celebrate. Now is a time to express the spirit of generosity that is supposedly present at this time of year.
Don't believe in excess, success is to give
Don't believe in riches but you should see where I live
- U2, God Part II
Success is to give, but look at where we live and look at how little we give.
--- 9:52pm ---
For those yet to make a contribution to the disaster relief effort, I am taking this straight from desert_sky's comment.
Here's a list of humanitarian groups to donate to, and here's a direct link to the Red Cross donation form (select "International Response Fund" to help the victims of the tsunami).