Saturday, January 01, 2005

Just when you thought it couldn't get any worse

Well, 2005's off to a good start. Loads of people dead via a natural disaster, ongoing violence in the Middle East and Africa and so on and so on. Now, to top it all, a load of past-it and D-list "pop stars" (including Tony Blair's favourite God-botherer Cliff Richard, the putridly bland non-talent that is Jamie "mutilating the classics" Cullum and Olivia "I was famous for a bit about 25 years ago, honest" Newton-John) are going to be releasing a single to raise money for tsunami victims.

But hey, every little helps, right? And who am I to point out (as, doubtless, many have already) that the United States' $350 million pledge (as with the two World Wars, better late than never guys...) is but a tiny fraction of the vast amount of money that has been pumped into Iraq? Who am I to suggest that the cost of the vital reconstruction work in the areas affected by the tsunami has been estimated at less than half what the US has set aside to pay (largely) American companies to get Iraq up and running again?

It's the hypocracy of the thing. Like the way the British government pledges £50 million and we're supposed to think "wow, how generous!" when this money is for saving lives. The same government has quite happily wasted BILLIONS of pounds taking lives in Iraq over the last couple of years.

All this bollocks that's been spouted about the world coming together, holding two minutes' silence before the fireworks at midnight and the like, is typical of the self-congratulatory attitude of us holier-than-thou Westerners. Look - we care, alright? We held off boozing for a couple of minutes and bunked you some small change! Now shut up and die quietly because that's all you're getting, and you should be bloody grateful.

Happy New Sodding Year.

5 Comments:

Blogger Catherine Vocalist said...

That was right on point. Very good post...

1/02/2005 01:16:00 pm  
Blogger Disillusioned kid said...

Unfortunately I have to agree entirely.

In a related story, a helpful Democratic Senator imaginatively suggested that perhaps the US should redirect some of the money earmarked for reconstruction in Iraq ($18bn, of which only a tiny fraction has been spent) and use that to help relief efforts in South-East Asia.

The mind boggles...

1/02/2005 11:05:00 pm  
Blogger Friendly Fire said...

Reuters was reporting these responses to the tsunami from Middle Eastern countries:

--Qatar, $25 million
--Saudi Arabia, $10 million
--Kuwait, $2.1 million
--Algeria, $2 million
--Libya, $2 million
--UAE, $2 million
--Turkey, $1.25 million

I have suggested before that if you want to compare the donations, you can't do it in terms of absolute numbers. You have to look at the population of the country and at its per capita income.

The announced Saudi contribution of $10 million is probably about $0.66 cents a citizen on a per capita basis (I don't think the Saudi citizen population can possibly be over 15 million no matter what Riyadh says). The initial US offer of $35 million was about $0.09 per person. Since US per capita income is approximately 4.5 times that of Saudi Arabia ($8500 Atlas method), however, the Saudi contribution should be seen as about $3.00 per citizen on a US scale, with regard to the real per capita burden. So the Saudi was a generous initial offer in comparison to that of the US.

The USG is now pledging about $0.90 cents per person ($350 million).

The Qatar offer of $25 million is about $250 per citizen.

The Kuwait offer of $2 million is $2.00 per citizen or $1.00 per person if guest workers are counted. Either way, it is comparable to the US offer on a per capita basis, and Kuwaiti per capita income is about half that of Americans. So any way you cut it, the Kuwaitis are not being chintzy unless you want to say Americans are moreso.

The Libyans are giving about $0.36 per person, and their per capita income (purchasing power parity method) is a little over $6,000. That is about 1/7 of the US per capita income, so their contribution burdens the Libyans the same way a roughly $2.50 per person contribution would burden Americans. Remember, the USG is currently giving ninety cents a person.

The Turks have offered 18 cents a person. But their per capita income is only about $3000 per year, or a tenth that of an average American, so this plege is equivalent to an American one of $1.80. That is, the Turks are giving twice what Americans are if everything is taken into account.

The Australian pledge of $28 million is about $1.35 per person.

It is obvious that if we take their populations and actual per capita income into account, the offers made by these governments are generally more generous than that of the United States. A lot of Middle Eastern countries have small populations, so even if they gave a lot per capita, it would look small in absolute numbers. Apparently US pundits don't know things like the citizen population of Kuwait or the per capita income of Libya, and can't be bothered to look them up.

1/03/2005 08:24:00 pm  
Blogger aEuropean said...

I agree that money is important up until a point. But doesn't anyone else feel that the money has become a distraction of late? Wasn't it the Thai prime minister who made an appeal for forensic experts? Surely skilled people and equipment are what are needed now?

Perhaps there are also other ways to help, for example identification and other important information is slowly becoming available online. I have posted an email appeal for information on my own blog (http://www.aeuropean.org/) - A two-year old boy is looking for his family. The blogging community could surely help by directing as many people as possible to such information.

1/05/2005 07:11:00 pm  
Blogger Nosemonkey said...

Hey - chuck enough money at a problem, it'll go away eventaully.

Don't get me wrong, I think it's great that people are donating in their droves - and that various countries are continuing to up their pledges as a result. It looks like since Colin Powell's visit (it'll be a real shame when he's gone) the US may up its donation again, so we can but hope that some real impact can be made.

But as aeuropean rightly says, money won't solve everything - in the early days they were calling for heavy lifting equipment, now doctors, soon (I hope) they'll need builders, carpenters and the like to help rebuild. Quite what practical help any of us can be, so many miles away, I have no idea - but every little counts.

Not that I've actually helped at all - just moaned like the typical whinging bastard that I am. Nothing's ever going to be good enough, because the scale of the problem - and not just in the tsunami-affected areas but around the world, as I have pointed out in another post - is overwhelming.

That, of course, doesn't mean we shouldn't try - but I'm still rather worried about the motivations of certain governments when it comes to this particular tragedy:

The UK is in an election year and the Labour government don't want to be seen to be stingy.

Bush is entering his second term, and seems to see placating the largely Muslim Indonesia as a good PR move

Most disgracefully of all, India has rejected foreign aid entirely - largely because it wants a place on the UN security council, and so wants to prove it can cope on its own.

1/05/2005 10:13:00 pm  

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