I think we're missing something here, though in terms of cost.
Right now, aid is (and should be) very low; this is primarily because there hasn't been any damage surveys, or governmental requests. What happens first is that assessments are done and then you decide what you are going to do.
As of right now, USA Aid has put forward $15M, not $7, so I'm not sure where that number came from. In order to go more then $15M, the president (or other political bodies) cannot just swipe a pen, they need a congressional approval as USAAid is up for rebudgetting and will need that assessment done..
Right now, the EU has put forward $4M, with a pledge of $27M.
While the individual countries have put forward smaller amounts, all nations contribute to the UN disaster relief fund, which is the primary reason we donate (if they still have the money.. but that's another story)..
Those within the state department have been encouraged by Red Cross and Red Crescent to put forward about $14M (TOTAL) at the beginning in order to help sanitize water sources to help prevent the spread of disease, and to lead a UN assessment panel of 48 people to evaluate the damage and form a comprehensive plan, figuring a lump budget of need and then asking for resources.
Even Japan and other governments are waiting to know "what needs done and how much $" before they just start throwing money at it. We learned from doing that to disasterous effect in the Turkey earthquake.. when so much money poured that way and it was uncontrolled, which led to an enormous amount of fraud and not a lot of relief.
I know there are those who want to see the coffers spring wide open, and this makes an easy target to complain.. but this is (IMHO) the smart way to do this.
The Red Cross had requested $7M, but only got $4M. This is lunch money.
If you can spend $330M on a single war jet, you can cough up a few billion in immediate relief. Perhaps if there was oil in Indonesia, there would be a more generous response. The UN has it pegged - stingy, and that goes for Canada too (my country). These people had little to begin with, now they have nothing, and I won't be surprised if the death toll is over 100,000 at the end of it all.
A friend from work flew out to Thailand on Christmas Eve. Thankfully she is OK as she was still settling into Bangkok and hand't ventured as far as the coast. However they felt the aftershocks and said that the tsunami hit two hours later.
Someone I half-know though she'd lost her brother at Phuket but it turns out he's alive. His girlfriend didn't survive though.
Everyone is going to know someone who has been involved in this in some way.
Perhaps we should all ditch a couple of DVD purchases this month and give the money to the aid charities.
No, it does not, but there is nothing that can be done to help the dead. They are gone forever, but money can help keep those still alive from dying, and can help rebuild all the infrastructure that has been lost, so there is a very valid concern for how much aid is being given to the areas affected. These early hours are when help is needed most.
We live in the world's most priviledged society, and had an exponentially higher standard of living even before this tragedy and devastation. I think it is very fair to be critical of the amount of funding that is being allocated for relief efforts when so much is freely given with little constructive purpose.
But wouldn't it be smarter to slowly dole out monies? In these first days, I am sure there is no one who knows exactly how much it is goint to take. It's sad to say that with downtrodden countries and esp. with the UN, sending to large of an amount at first only causes large sums of it to disappear into thin air. Send a few million for emergency efforts now, but wait a few weeks to see what kind of long term relief is needed.
I wonder how much Russia and China, the superpowers of Asia, are going to contribute? As long as they take the lead, we can step up in support of them.
Donating or organizing anything through the bureaucracy of the UN is no better than just setting a pile of cash on fire or flushing it down the sewer. Donate millions to form a 48-person "assessment team"? It would be comical if it weren't so tragically true.
I agree with you Chris. To assume that we need to send a million $$ right away, is quite foolish since it may not all be needed. Plus, they can't spend it all right away, so I'd rather see them spend some now and then spend more in the next few weeks (as needed).
Death toll is now nearing 60,000. Simply unbelievable.
I, like many others here, want to make a personal donation towards the relief effort. I think the Red Cross is the best place to give. Anybody have any other ideas?
BTW, the Red Cross says monetary donations are what is needed most. Unless you're near the afflicted area, physical gifts (clothes, blankets, etc.), while well-intentioned, actually represent extra cost to relief agencies (cataloguing, transportation costs, etc.).
I think though, if you talk to people who are there, the aid that is being noted right now isn't even for use right now.. there hasn't been an assessment. When I talk to those in the state dept. and other organizations who are there, they will tell you that right now it's such a mess that money is very low on the need list.. yes, in the long run, there will be a huge economic need, but right now it's completely unclear as to what to spend on.
But what is needed in high quantity are goods: food, clothes, water heaters and water purification systems, along with drugs. Right now, army forces in Phillipines and Sri Lanka have been assigned to help clean up and to move purified water, etc. These are things that private organizations like Red Cross / Red Crescent use your money for and do so effectively, far more effectively then any government body.
Large reconstruction work later (like building, army corp of engineer work) is down the road, and that's where government aid will be needed.
The State Dept. estimates cleanup to run somewhere between $3-$5 BILLION dollars. Of which the US will supply a gigantic chunk of it (a requester for at least $2B is being prepared) The reality is, that money is not allotted in any budget, and as I stated earlier, can't be done without congressional approval.
But more then that, even if it could, it'd be stupid to do it right now. The Red Cross and Red Crescent have asked for survey crews and basic goods to assess the needs. We need to step back from the direct desire for the money spigot and instead wait until we know exactly what needs to be done. We screwed up in Turkey bad when we did it the other way; while I understand the need of compassion (and there are tons of private organizations that do great work) for the amount of projected aid that will be needed, we are best served to wait until we know exactly what we need rather then continually revise based on political demand
(I say that, and then political demand will continue to make people offer more money *shrug*)
My point was that the Red Cross asked for $7M and were only given just over half. Of course they don't know what things will cost, but there should be an effort made to make sure that the needed supplies are made available now.