Victory means exit strategy, and it's important for the President to explain to us what the exit strategy is.    The Honorable Governor of Texas, George W. Bush

I hate quotations. Tell me what you know.    Ralph Waldo Emerson

Thursday, December 30, 2004

To Have and Have Not

These are the actual comments made by U.N. Undersecretary-General for Humanitarian Affairs Jan Egeland which have, as is the norm, been rumorized into pulp by the yellow press and the ever technicolored blogsphere.

It is beyond me why are we so stingy, really. Christmastime should remind many Western countries at least, [of] how rich we have become."

There are several donors who are less generous than before in a growing world economy," he said, adding that politicians in the United States and Europe "believe that they are really burdening the taxpayers too much, and the taxpayers want to give less. It's not true. They want to give more.

He said "we" for crying out loud, meaning all Westerners, yet his comment was sure to stir up the hen house that is American politics. "Cluck, Cluck," went every big, fat, scab produced Perdue chicken from Limbaugh to Hot Lips, resulting in a cacophany that would raise the dead or even a sleepy "rancher" in Texas.

Time for a farewell apperance by that minister of thankless tasks, that Secretary of Official Obfuscation, Colin Powell:

The United States has given more aid in the last four years than any other nation or combination of nations in the world.
Well yeah, and Bill Gates paid more income tax than I did, too! Here are some real numbers:

Kinda makes you wonder why we don't get more thank you notes in the mail, doesn't it? Most Americans have a figure closer to 15% in mind. Put another way, most Americans think we are 130 or so times more generous than we are. What about private aid? This is considered difficult to measure but one estimate by yet another neo-con think tank, the Hudson Institute, puts the figure around 35 billion annually. This estimate was for 2001 so our total would come up to .42% or so. I don't have estimates for the other countries' private efforts but it is assumed that some exist--regardless we are not exactly blowing anyone away with our total.

In researching this issue on the net two things become very clear. The first is that Libertarians have almost as much free time to devote to the internet as do perverts. Secondly they join many who firmly believe that foreign aid is, at best, misguided.

Ah, libertarians. As I said they have all this time to search down self-serving stats and put 'em on the board all fluffy and appealing, much like a model of a Whopper that gets used for an ad photo. They'll tell us gun crimes spiked in the late 80's in Washington, D.C. because of gun control and ignore the spike in the crack cocaine epidemic of the same years.

And they tell us that relief doesn't work while pointing to historical efforts' relationships to the GNP's of the donee nations. Well, yeah that's our point too. Maybe we could accelerate things by issuing aid not "tied" to requirements that it be spent on goods produced by American interest groups. Maybe we could try meting this aid along less political lines? (oops, big trouble with the neo-cons and Isreal on that one)

Nope, let's dump the baby with the bathwater. What baby? Here are some facts I came across:

• Since 1960 child death rates in developing countries have more
than halved, malnutrition rates have declined by almost a third, the proportion
of children out of primary school has fallen from more than half to less than a

• Over the past three decades the population in developing
countries with access to safe water almost doubled — from 36% to nearly

• The extension of basic immunization over the past two
decades has saved the lives of three million children.

• In 1960-93 average life expectancy increased by more than
a third in developing countries.
Have faith, you enterprising ones. It won't be too long before you'll be able to run 'em down with your "liberating" free market steam roller. Have a little patience!

Update 12/31: Coincidentally, I caught the last 20 min. of "To Have and Have Not" last night. It's even cornier than I remember.


At 1:09 PM, Blogger Bullock said...

All it would have taken for the U.S. to avoid critcism on the aid issue is for Bush to have reacted like most past presidents have done when other nations suffer a tragedy like this one--RESPOND QUICKLY! A quick, diplomatic statement would have sufficed. Reagan, Clinton, even Bush I would have done this.Remember the school room scene in Farenheit 911? This is so typical Bush-absolutely no diplomacy/leadership skills-a paramount requirement for a U.S.President.Scary, scary.
The U.S. birth population has been falling for some years while the third world country birth rates continue to proliferate due to better nutrition, health care, standard of living. Of course, these same countries have 'equalizers'; AIDS, civil wars,genocides, ethnic cleansings and presently-terrible act-of-God natural diasasters.
What they don't have is a long or even middle range vision of how to progress their respective countries' economies and standard of living. What the libertarian point of view fails to understand is the richness of the peoples of these countries have to offer despite their limited means.
It is a hard task sometimes, giving money away. Do you do it with conditions or no conditions? Some countries squander the aid, corrupt leaders pocket it, administrative costs eat it up. Seems like in this advanced age we should have a more neutral party running these aids organizations and be accountable for budgets, etc. to the UN. No strings, just bread.

And no nation-building allowed.

At 12:22 PM, Blogger sequoit said...

Hey, I'm in the early conceptual phase of a team blog (meaning it sounds like a good idea but I haven't gone farther than that). I'm not sure this is the site to do it on, I'm going to look into some sites where you might not have to experiment with three levels of display to see how things such as tables or paragraph spacing, etc. work out.

At 5:38 PM, Blogger Bullock said...

I haven't read that many blogs nor scuntinized their 'tech' structure so I am of little help at this point.I'm more of a content guy; good, bad or ugly...And am still typing challenged; where to find the various tools for links, special keyboard symbols, etc.
You might want to check out The Left Coaster, seems like a modestly well put together site.


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