Wednesday, August 31, 2005

our tsunami

I saw a pretty offensive political cartoon in the Seattle Times this morning. I don't have a link to it, but it was a two-panel cartoon. In the first panel, a male reporter is saying something about donors from all over the world sending money to help rebuild after the devastation of Hurricane Katrina. In the second panel, the same guy is saying something like "as if".

I don't want to discount the suffering that many people in Louisiana and Mississippi are experiencing, but the cartoon was just so stupid and uninformed that it made me want to scream.

Folks, we are the wealthiest nation in the world. We do not need to have anyone send us money to rebuild after a hurricane. We have the money to do it ourselves.

When people in the U.S. are asked to guess how much money our country spends in foreign aid, the guesses are always dramatically higher than the reality, which is less than one percent of our GDP. There's this bizarre image of the United States as benevolently throwing money around, while back at home people need some help.

It's just not true. There's no doubt that there are a number of programs in the United States that could use more funding, but the reason that they aren't getting it isn't because some kid in Darfur is eating rice meal flown in by helicopter.

I just started reading Jeffrey Sachs' The End of Poverty. Someone suggested that I was going to get bummed out reading it, but it's actually having the opposite effect. There is something that we can do to end poverty; we just have to find the political will to make it happen.

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