A Stingy Primer

If yer curious, here's some frame of reference on the U.S. and it's "stinginess".

The San Francisco Chronicle has a brief, decent article on "How much to give" for tsunami relief. Foreign Policy Magazine and the Center for Global Development ranks the rich for 2004 "on how their aid, trade, investment, migration, environment, security, and technology policies help poor countries". Check here for the nitty-gritty of the study, of which this index is perhaps the best snapshot of the actual rankings. According to the FP piece, the US went up in the rankings 13 places due to a new measure of security, changes in how investment is measured, and a consistently improving migration number. I have no idea how much stock to put in this single source, but it seems to be the most repubidable analysis out there (I didn't see much mention of private donation, but then I just scanned the thing). Overall the US was at 7th. Japan was dead last. Currently, the U.S. government is sending around $350 million to countries affected by the tsunami, around $200 million more is coming from private sources. Japan has pledged $500 million in aid. Australia just pledged $1 billion.

As a matter of comparison consider Spain's $70 million pledge, with strings attached.Oh, and don't forget there's a new power structure to the world and it's being evidenced, at least for now, by generosity. Fareed Zakaria has an article to similar effect. India and Thailand are each saying, "thanks, but no thanks," and are turning away this money, again, for now. And China is making a historic break from "stinginess" and helping its neighbors.

These donation numbers are all going to rise, and many promises made with this money will go broken or prove otherwise flawed. The tally of dead and injured won't be made final for weeks (jeezus, maybe months?) and there's a shitload of work to be done. Giving aid is far from being a cut and dry issue and only time will tell how generous or stingy we are being. Either way, if you're not convinced our country doing you service in it's giving, the answer seems simple enough to me, give more of yourself. There are enough reputable charitable institutions out there that would be happy to make use of your contribution.

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