Tuesday, February 22, 2005

Too Much Tsunami a Bad Thing?

     The December 26 tsunami in the Indian Ocean was the deadliest disaster of its kind in recorded history, killing at least 228,000 people, as of today, and possible tens of thousands more. Although not the worst natural disaster of all time, (an earthquake in China in 1976 killed 242,000, the 1918 Influenza pandemic killed between 25 and 100 million. See the List of Natural Disasters), it was one of the worst in modern history and one of the first caught on video.
     My provocative question of the day: is the tsunami overhyped? We give a lot of money to charity, although not exactly close to 10% of our income (we give, but we don't tithe). We didn't give any money towards the tsunami disaster because we wanted to focus our giving on our normal charitable priorities.
     It turns out that even during times of great need, like the tsunami tragedy or September 11, people don't increase their overall giving, they divert it away from the everyday needs. Organizations like the Red Cross and United Way suffer, not to mention the thousands of needy people who rely on emergency care. Because of this, I greatly admire President Bush's move to include January's donactions to tsunami relief in 2004's deduction. I feel this move will cause people not to subtract what they give to tsunami relief from what they will overall give in 2005.
     Still, for months, all I've been hearing on TV and the radion is tsunami this and tsunami that. I can't help feeling this is all a little hypocritical. After this is all said and done, we'll still have a quarter of a million people dead and a bunch of Americans will be patting themselves on the back for being so generous. Meanwhile, in their own backyards, millions of the unwashed sit ignored and unhelped.

3 comments:

Ben said...

My first question, what would you have us do? Ignore the people who got hit by the tsunami?

The reason I'd rather help victims of the tsunami instead of most of the "unwashed" in my own country is the same reason that I'm somewhat conservative. The people in my own country have been given every opportunity to make their way, whether it's through our educational system, or extra help from welfare, or unemployment insurance, government sponsored training programs, etc. I don't know the numbers, but a hefty percentage of my tax dollars go to various social programs (most of which don't work, merely provide more money for politicians to use to win votes). Just think how much more generous right wingers would be if we got to choose where our money goes. If the $X I pay at gunpoint to support social programs instead was in my pocket, I'd not spend it all on charity, but you can be damn sure my charity dollar would go a lot farther than my tax dollars do to helping those "unwashed."

If Bush had come up with a tax plan to help out tsunami victims, as some of the left, and much of the international community seemed to want us to do, then you can be sure that the total $'s of private donations from the US would have fallen to almost nothing.

Anonymous said...

The "unwashed" comment sounded a little harsh.

Fay Ann said...

I do find it peculiar and odd that you hear such a big deal made about the Tsunami.

I am appalled by Ben's comments. He just doesn't understand your point. I love those people so closeminded that they can't even see through another person's perspective on issues. Even if Ben really did donate to the Tsuanmi relief fund, I wouldn't be surprised if his 2005 charitable donations will not exceed those of his 2004 donations.

I think it’s more than appropriate to help those in need. I am not saying that victims of the Tsunami do not need our help but at the same time we cannot turn our back on so many charities and organizations that rely on our annual contribution. There are just as many people suffering in the United States from life threatening health risks, abusive parents and/or spouse, mental challenges and disorders and soforth as there are victims of the Tsunami.