put your money where your mouth is

I was finishing up my lunch and talking to my coworker about what I’d heard on Power 106 this morning as I was driving to work. The replacement deejays were discussing the Southeast Asian death toll and the earthquake that had sparked the whole disaster. For some strange reason, they decried the fact that the U.S. had offered $35 million in aid. They said something along the lines of “how can they offer only $35 million to these victims when Kobe Bryant gets paid $14 million a year?”

Um, hello? What, $35 million is a drop in the bucket? Well, yes, in terms of what it will take to help get that region of the globe back in order. But in terms of government aid, that’s a lot. And the dolts at Power 106 aren’t the only ones – there’s a lot of griping from the United Nations also. Here’s the quote, via the LA times story:

The most widely publicized criticism came from the United Nations’ emergency relief coordinator, Jan Egeland, who said this week: “It is beyond me why we are so stingy. Actually, foreign assistance for many countries now is 0.1 or 0.2% of gross national income. That is stingy.”

But Dubya done me proud. He actually came prepared:

“Take, for example, in the year 2004, our government provided $2.4 billion in food, in cash, in humanitarian relief to cover the disasters for last year. That’s $2.4 billion,” he said. “That’s 40% of all the relief aid given in the world last year, was provided by the United States government.

In addition, he’s not the only one who believes that aid is generous. Check out this quote from Stephen Tomlin of the International Medical Corps, via Steve Lopez’s column this morning:

Tomlin bristled when I asked what he thought about the suggestion, made early this week by United Nations humanitarian aid chief Jan Egeland, that the U.S. government and other wealthy nations were being stingy with their contributions to the relief effort.

“It’s crap,” snapped Tomlin, a native of England. “This happened on a Sunday, and most people were still out on Monday. The whole process has to go through ambassadors, and then the whole disaster response mechanism kicks in. The generosity that comes out of America is awesome in this kind of situation.”

So. Here’s my suggestion. This is a huge disaster, of Biblical proporations, real Old Testament-type stuff. Everyone needs to get in on this, everyone needs to help, no one can afford to be “stingy.” Why don’t we do this – why don’t we solicit the NFL, the NBA, the MLB, every Fortune 500 corporation, the top-tier members of the Screen Actors Guild, plus former presidential candidates (ahem), to donate at least $1 million in aid to this disaster. Everyone knows every one of those athletes, actors, actresses and corporations can spare a million. If you put an amount of that magnitude together, it would boggle the mind and never be forgotten. Forgive me not for doing any research on this, but I cannot recall the last time we’ve had such an incredible, deadly and far-reaching natural disaster like this one. If there were ever a time to give, this would be it.