Lottery Post Journal

NYP column: It's about the tragedy - not more Bush-bashing

THE political and ideological exploitation of perhaps the worst natural disaster in all our lifetimes is almost beyond belief - were it not for the fact that nothing these days is beyond belief.

Even as tears spring into the most hard-hearted person's eyes at both the unimaginable scope of the tragedy and at the wrenching individual stories of loss, opinion leaders just can't help themselves.

They are using this cataclysm as little more than cheap debate fodder about the nature and character of the United States, its president and its citizens.

Don't misunderstand.

It is fine and proper to have a debate and discussion about the degree of generosity the United States could, should and must show in the wake of this literally earth-shaking event.

But at this moment, the United States is not the issue.

The foreign-aid budget of the United States is not the issue.

Our government should not be the focal point of the discussion right now.

Don't we owe the dead, dying and injured the minimal grace not to convert their suffering into a chat-show segment - the latest left-right clash over the Bush presidency?

And couldn't the editorialists at The New York Times have forborne - even just for a week - making use of the tsunami to complain about U.S. government spending on "development aid"?

Development aid is the blanket term for American grant money handed out to other countries, supposedly to help their economies grow. Development aid has nothing - nothing - to do with what has happened.

The aid at issue now is disaster relief.

Secretary of State Colin Powell found himself in the position of having to remind the world that over the past four years the United States has provided more such aid than all other nations on the planet combined.

It is appalling that he had to mention this, and that President Bush was compelled to cite the same innormation on Wednesday, because you're not supposed to brag about how charitable you are. But once a United Nations official decried the American aid pledge as "stingy," the administration had little choice.

Any rational person would have understood without having to be told what the president told the world on Wednesday morning, which is that the $35 million pledge "is only the beginning of our help."

But maybe people are looking for a sideshow to distract them from the sickening pictures and the keening cries of the untold numbers of mothers whose babies were swept away.

4 Comments:

  • Well said, Todd. This is not about politics and the President did not do anything wrong in his approach to aid appropriation (adjusting it as needs became more apparent). The idiot from the UN should be chastised as the United States has always been the biggest and foremost contributor to international aid and especially to international disaster relief aid. The original 35 mil. was based on 5,000 fatalities and initial recovery needs. Now it's at 150,000 fatalities and EVERY government is readjusting its aid figures. It's not just governments responsible for helping others it is each and every one of us fishing the old credit card out and pledging our help. I am hoping the 10,000 strong membership here at Lottery Post pledge some of their lottery budget to buy a tent or a bag of rice or whatever to help these poor people and as quickly as possible.

    Good post and I thank you because our political views have nothing to do with this tragedy. It may happen to us one day and we would be equally as grateful to any of our 6 billion cohabitants who could help us in any way they could. We saw the world outpouring to us after 9/11 and it just makes politics take a back seat and seem inconsequential at this time.

    By Rick G, at 5:28 PM

  • $ 15 million in aid? That's "stingy".
    Hadn't UN called the US government "stingy", they probably would not have increased the aid.

    By MillionsWanted, at 12:38 PM

  • No, MillionsWanted, that's not correct. The USA is the world's biggest provider of aid BY FAR - every single year, without fail. People calling the USA "stingy" are either ill-informed or a name that I cannot repeat here.

    To think that the USA's initial $15 million aid would have been the total is rediculous, and shows that you have no idea how the USA aid money works.

    Since you don't know, I'll tell you.

    The US Congress is the body which allocates funds for disaster relief. (NOTE: The President has nothing to do with it.)

    Last year, the Congress set aside a certain disaster relief budget for the current year. When the tsunami struck, whatever money was available in the budget (i.e., the $15 million) was immediately made available, and was pledged to help.

    Then, for additional funds, the Congress has to vote on an expanded aid package in order to allocate new funds. Then, that additional money is pledged. Hence the additional $350 million.

    You see, there is a process that is followed, and in the end, the USA is always expected to come up with the lion's share of aid around the world - and always does.

    IN ADDITION, the USA is filled with giving people, and our people ALWAYS give more than any other people on Earth. One reason for that is that here in the USA we believe in freedom, more than anything else. That freedom includes the fact that we don't believe that our government controls all of our money - the people do. The focus is not on what the government gives (like semi-socialist countries like Norway do), it's on what the PEOPLE decide to do. And our people are always the most generous.

    That's also why Congressional votes are required for funds allocation, and why we don't let people like the President decide how to spend OUR money. Because in the USA it is OUR money, not the government's.

    I sincerely hope this can be eye-opening for you.

    By Todd, at 12:53 PM

  • Thanks, Todd. I didn't know this either. This is one of those "facts" that is little researched or questioned, and most of us have not got the foggiest idea on how it all works.

    By dragon, at 10:40 AM

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