Recall all those claims by European detractors after the tsunami about American stinginess?
This commitment, however, was not generous enough for Jan Egeland, the Norwegian bureaucrat who heads up relief efforts for the United Nations. "It is beyond me why are we so stingy, really," Egeland told reporters, according to Bill Sammon of the Washington Times. (We'll let the "we" pass unmolested.)
American and European politicians, Egeland complained, "believe that they are really burdening the taxpayers too much, and the taxpayers want to give less. It's not true. They want to give more."
The larger picture Egeland fails to appreciate is that America's wealth and prosperity — partly sustained by low taxes — is a greater bulwark against human suffering than the United Nations ever has been or likely will be. America guarantees global stability by keeping the sea lanes open, by preventing North Korea from invading South Korea and China from seizing Taiwan. We did it by preventing Saddam from keeping Kuwait. We ignored the United Nations and intervened to stop genocide in Yugoslavia, and we have 150,000 troops in Iraq working to create a democracy — while the United Nations is still too scared of terrorists, and too anti—American, to help.
Meanwhile, American citizens, partly thanks to those stingy low taxes, send some $34 billion in private aid around the world every year. That's ten times the United Nations total budget. America's Christian ministries, private foundations, and agencies all do far more in direct charity and aid than the United Nations. But bureaucrats — some who've grown fat on Oil—for—Food money — measure stinginess in terms of support to the bureaucracy, not to the constituency the bureaucracy was intended to help.
Jan Egeland (UN Norweigan official) and Clare Short (British Cabinet member who quit because of opposition to Iraq War) , for instance:
Jan Egeland, that Norwegian bloke who is the U.N. humanitarian honcho, got the ball rolling with a few general remarks about big countries' "stinginess." He particularly thinks U.S. tax rates too low. Got that? Those tightwad Yanks aren't doing enough.
But whoa, hang on. It turns out those pushy Yanks are doing way too much, at least according to Clare Short, formerly Britain's international development secretary (until she stormed out of Tony Blair's Cabinet to protest the Iraq war). President Bush roused her ire by announcing Washington would coordinate its disaster relief with Australia, India and Japan. To Miss Short that had a whiff of another "coalition of the willing." "I think this initiative from America to set up four countries claiming to coordinate sounds like yet another attempt to undermine the U.N.," she told the BBC. "Only really the U.N. can do that job. It is the only body that has the moral authority."
Charitable giving in U.S. nears new high
By VINNEE TONG
AP BUSINESS WRITER
NEW YORK —— The urgent needs created by three major natural disasters — the tsunami in Asia, earthquake in Pakistan and hurricanes Rita, Katrina and Wilma — drove American philanthropy to its highest level since the end of the technology boom, a new study showed.
The report released Monday by the Giving USA foundation estimates that in 2005 Americans gave $260.28 billion, a rise of 6.1 percent, which approaches the inflation—adjusted high of $260.53 billion that was reached in 2000.
About half of the overall increase of $15 billion went directly to aid victims of the disasters. The rest of the increase, meanwhile, may still be traced to the disasters since they may have raised public awareness of other charities.
"When there is a very significant need, when people are clearly aware of that need, they will respond," the chairman of Giving USA, Richard Jolly, said. "Were it not for the disasters, what we would have expected is more of a flat number. With the staggering need generated by the disasters, it's very in keeping with what has happened in the past — the American public stepped forward and provided additional support."
The three natural disasters generated about $7.37 billion, which was 2.8 percent of total giving. Of that amount, individuals contributed $5.83 billion, or 79 percent, while corporations added $1.38 billion, or 19 percent.
Excluding disaster relief, the report indicates that there still would have been a rise in gifts from both individuals and corporations. In the 41 years that Giving USA has tracked philanthropy, giving has increased with the wealth of the nation. Since 1965, total contributions have been between 1.7 percent and 2.3 percent of gross domestic product. The highest level was reached at the end of the technology boom in 2000. For 2005, it was estimated to be 2.1 percent of GDP.
Ed Lasky 6 19 06