Friday, December 31, 2004
As we ring in 2005, the world continues to grieve and tries to comprehend the massive and seemingly neverending casualty count from last weekend's horrific Asian tsunami disaster. At last estimate, the count was hovering around 125,000 with some predicting it may reach as high as 400,000 in the Acheh region alone. While the world's New Year's celebrations will no doubt be muted and shrouded in black, not everyone seems to be affected quite as severely. The Daily News reports that many tourists have arrived on the Thai island of Phuket in recent days to enjoy their planned New Year's vacations on the beach despite the island's position at the epicenter of the tsunami zone. Hopefully, the bodies of the dead washing up onshore won't disturb their holidays.
While there could be no worse way to end what was already a discouraging and depressing year (unless you're a Republican), the one good thing to come from this is seeing how the world has come together to provide aid and relief to the region. Ok, so maybe that isn't entirely true... the relief effort has not come without controversy. I was trying to avoid slamming the Bush administration for being full of a bunch of stingy assholes but I can't stay silent any longer. I had truly hoped the administration would step up to the plate and offer more than a measley $35 million, but nearly a week after the disaster, and after almost every other Western nation on the planet surpassed our paltry sum, I can't hold back. Initially, the US had only ponied up $15 million but was internationally shamed into upping its contribution to $35 million, and that number still rings extremely hallow. Let's put the $35 million into some context, shall we?
- The Bush administration spends $5.8 billion a month in Iraq, which translates to roughly $35 million every six hours according to MSNBC's David Shuster.
- Cost of the January 20th Bush inaugaration party? Somewhere between $30 and $40 million.
- Federal aid provided to Florida's relief efforts after this year's quadruple whammy hurricane season? $2.8 billion.
- A mansion in the Hamptons recently sold for $45 million.
- The New York Yankees 2005 payroll after yesterday's signing of Randy Johnson? More than $200 million.
- US drug giant Pfizer alone has donated $35 million in funds and medical supplies.
- The UK's contribution: $95 million.
- Sweden's contribution: $75.5 million (Sweden!)
- Spain's contribution: $68 million
- Even the French topped us: $57 million
No doubt the US figure will increase in the coming days, it has to, but why has it taken so long? In the face of perhaps the greatest natural disaster to ever befall the planet, it not only took Bush four days to emerge from his 'ranch vacation' to make a statement, but his government has still only coughed up $35 million. And just to be clear, I'm not grousing about America's efforts as a country, private citizens and even corporate America have stepped up quickly to provide significant relief, but the government's reaction has been pitiful to say the least. I wonder if our white-bread, Christian-conservative government would've acted more swiftly if the tsunami hadn't primarily effected a region full of 'brown people'? But hey, at least W. is sending his brother for a photo-op. Stingy bastard.
Don't be a stingy bastard, give to the relief effort this New Year:
Doctors Without Borders
Bloggers Without Borders
A Full Roundup of Organizations providing relief
- A Baptist Church in Topeka, Kan. (Red State!) "Thanks God for the tsunami and 2,000 dead Swedes", apparently because all of Sweden is gay. (Raw Story)
- Defamer finds the good: Fantana's 'Tidal Wave' campaign is officially over.
- Gawker: How far will $500 million go?
UPDATE, 2 pm:
The Bush administration finally succumbed to the pressure and increased its contribution to $350 million this afternoon.
Possible forthcoming Blog Headlines:
"Oops, we forgot a zero..."
"Take THAT Sweden!"
"I guess our troops won't be getting that new body armor after all..."
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