Why I’m Not Donating to the Relief Effort

This may go down in history as the least popular posting on this site, but, in the immortal words of Han Solo, here goes nothing.

Travis recently wondered why my Canadian friends won’t donate to Katrina’s victims. He made a number of salient points, and I commented on his site. As sometimes happens, the comment got long enough to become a post on its own. Here’s a variation of what I said:

I give to charity regularly. There are three kinds of charities I support:

  • Hyper-local charities like the Union Gospel Mission. I believe in trying to better your own backyard–act locally and all that. I watch their work down the block from where I live, and am encouraged by what I see.
  • Environmental agencies such as the World Wildlife Foundation or the David Suzuki Foundation. I decided a while back that saving the planet’s plants and animals was as or more important to me than easing human suffering.
  • Charities that help the world’s poorest people, such as World Vision or Survival International. For these hopeless millions, lacking water, food, medical facilities or housing are daily realities, not the result of freak acts of nature.

In the next four weeks, every American citizen will get the help they need. Fours weeks in the world’s poorest places, the Darfurs and Afghanistans, will see 800,000 people needlessly die.

For reasons that are more instinctual than anything, I’m not a reactive giver. That is, I’ll give roughly the same fraction of my income this year as I did last year, to roughly the same set of charities. Whether there’s a tsunami in Southeast Asia or a hurricane on the Gulf Coast, my habits remains the same.

Charity is an exceptionally personal decision. There are very few non-profit organizations which I would actively discourage you from donating to, so please don’t interpret this as a judgement of how you’re spending your money.

I’ve received a couple of emails from people asking me to highlight this or that cause, so I’ll post those below (feel free to post your own in the comments):

38 comments

  1. I must agree, and as a woman who gives in other ways, and has a family who must come first before I “give until it hurts” THEM, I will continue to do what I already do.

    Hh

  2. I’m not giving to Hurricane Katrina victims because, in my opinion, the worst day in the life of the person most negatively affected by Katrina is still probably somewhat better than the best days of the lives of people in places like the Sudan, Afghanistan, Sri Lanka.

    While I am sympathetic to their situation, I simply feel that my limited funds for donations can make a bigger difference elsewhere in the world.

  3. I applaud you for this brave post Darren. I am going to donate to Hurricane Katrina relief efforts. However, I totally see your point. Perhaps, your post will lessen any guilt some of your readers might feel about not shifting some of their charity dollars in response to this latest tragedy.

  4. The Web is a collection of the things that we care about. We add to it by linking. In other words, by adding a simple link, you are showing that you care about something (i.e technology, sports, world events, whatever).

    I understand where everyone is coming from here because everyone has their own charities and can’t donate to everything but give me a break. You don’t have to chop off an arm or empty your bank account, all you have to do is put one link to the Red Cross or even to a news event relating to the disaster to show that it matters to you and you care about it.

    John Oxton (joshuaink.com) said he didn’t want to put up a token banner for the disaster on his site but at least he talked about it and explained his feelings of frustration and helplessness about it. More than I can say about a hell of a lot of other sites I’ve visited. Most of them didn’t even say a single word about the event (and they were mainly American sites too). You can say all you want about not donating but if you don’t say anything at all then you’re pretty disconnected from the world and quite uncaring about it as well. Sad to say especially when everyone talks about this “blogosphere” and being “connected”. Well “being connected” electronically is not the same thing as “feeling connected” with others.

    BTW yes I’m Canadian and I did donate. Not much though, but it was all I could afford.

  5. Imagine if the US took what it spends on the war in Iraq any given week and put it towards the hurricane relief efforts…

    My own charitable causes are a private affair, but my thought on this particular crisis is this: all Canadians are contributing, as the government is sending aid that we pay for with our taxes.

  6. I find it much more affordable to donate my time, rather than my money. Money is great, but somebody has to do something with it!

    Of course, I’m not close enough to NOLA to do anything there. So, I do the local thing. Works well for me, and gives me a much more long-lasting altruistic feeling that gets renewed each week. 🙂

  7. Nollind: You’re saying that if you have a blog and didn’t talk about the Hurricane, “then you’re pretty disconnected from the world and quite uncaring about it as well. ”

    Can’t say that I agree with you. Not everything needs to be blogged about by everyone.

    Back on topic. When the Tsunami hit, some people at our work tried to get our company to match our donations dollar for dollar. The official word was that the Company sees charity as a personal thing, so they didn’t help us. Today we got an email saying that they’ll be matching whatever we donate to the Hurricane relief. There’s a lot of lively discussion on the discrepancy.

  8. Yes, I agree completely. This reactive giving is wonderful, but it whips people up into a giving frenzy, and completely overlooks the charity work done for people who struggle every day and not just in the face of a huge disaster. At my work a hat was passed around for the Tsunami victims and for the Hurricane Katrina victims and I did give to both…but what I disagree with is that there is no hat for those in Dafur, or even anything for local charities. It is all completely reactive, and while I guess any giving is better than no giving at all, I applaud your posting this here. Perhapys more people will be inspired to give year-round.

  9. Darren, I applaud your brave post. If I could give my time down there, I would. That said, I agree with you. There are so many local charities, such as the Union Gospel Mission, that I’d prefer to provide my meager donations to.

    I feel for those people affected by this horrific tragedy, but I believe that if the US Government can afford to fund the war in Iraq, they are certainly in a position to fund the relief efforts.

  10. Just wondering:
    I refuse to donate to UGM because I won’t support a bunch of dope-heads, does this make me brave and worthy of applause?

  11. Darren – Why do you feel the need to justify your action (or non-action, rather)?

    You’ve wisely said before that “I make charitable donations without wearing them on my sleeve, why can’t you?” in reference to the rubber wristband craze sweeping the nation. Why did you feel the need to blog about your choice not to give in this instance? Do you feel guilty? Who are you trying to convince with your justifications? The hundreds of thousands of hurricane victims who, right now, are relying on various charities to get food, clothing & shelter?

    I would like to say I understand your position, but I honestly cannot. I have the distinct feeling that you and other commenters are under the mistaken impression that you would be giving money to the the U.S. government, or that “you’re gonna show them, what with their Iraq-invadig & gas-guzzling & environment-abusing, etc….” Charity is not a political statement, or at least shouldn’t be. It’s an act of compassion, and should be its own reward.

    If, though, you’re just not that moved by the plight of these people to give, perhaps to even sacrifice, then, in my opinion, you truly are some cold-hearted Canadians.

  12. A few thoughts

    We all say “limited funds” and “meager donations” but giving what we can is really all that matters. If it is all that we can, than there is nothing meager about it, if it is limited, than it is limited, so are we.

    I’m not sure how I feel about reactive giving. Or showy giving Oprah style. I am part of the “rubber wristband” craze because I lost someone close to me from cancer and it is a tangible reminder of that. That is reactionary, and yet it is meaningful. I think it is important to continue our charitable support to counteract the ongoing suffering in places such as Ethiopa or Sudan, but in times like this it can be important to give reactionally over and above those charities we normally sustain, because this is an extraordinary event. And that is meaningful in itself.

  13. Ted: If you check out the thread you quote, somebody else already raises that point. My reply: “Fair point on the charity, but it was only for a week, and certainly had nothing to do with trend or style.”

    I felt compelled to address this subject for three reasons:

    * Travis blogged about it, and specifically asked “Will you donate? If not, why not?” As one of his Canadian friends, I thought I’d answer.

    * I’d notice the intense discussion of the disaster, the relief efforts and the political fallout in the blogosphere, and wanted to contribute.

    * A couple of people emailed me, asking me to promote some related causes. That suggested that some of the people who read this site might be interested in the subject.

    I’ve written occasionally about charitable causes before, so it’s hardly a new subject for me.

    Of course charity is a political act. It’s not only a decision based in politics, but they certainly enter into the decision-making process. Does not the conservative support Ducks Unlimited while the liberal supports Greenpeace?

    I think I’ve outlined my thinking pretty clearly. If you choose not to believe me, so be it. If you’ve got a refutation of my logic, I’d like to hear it.

  14. Let’s suppose the Big One hits Vancouver this winter.

    Richmond’s sunk into the silt, Bridges spanning the Fraser have been taken out. Your water reservoirs are either destroyed or made useless through contamination. Basically all of the infrastructure supporting your city is gone. Monsoon season has set in, making everything nice and pleasant for you while you sit in the ruins of your collapsed/burned/flooded home.

    Do you think you’d want someone to be observing on a blog that help will get there in 4 weeks anyway so don’t bother donating?

    At least down on the Gulf all the healthy people with means got away, leaving only the truly needy behind.

    Ie the poor, elderly, and disabled

    Somehow I think they’d appreciate some help in the midst of 150 billion dollars worth of destruction…

    Here’s my list of regular charities: Shriner’s Hospitals, United Way, the Spina Bifida Association of BC, and the Hospice House in town.

    No, I don’t think my family can really budget for it ( we just bought a car- hey look, I’ve got an out!)) but I think I can throw 200 bucks on my Visa to help out the Red Cross deliver some more food and water. I’ll do it just to bring up the average amongst the readers here. To be honest I hadn’t thought about it until I read some of the views here.

    And, in case you’re wondering, I think the American government did a job on their own people by sucking all of their resources into the abyss of Iraq. But it’s no excuse not to give.

    Thanks for letting me ramble and be reactionary…

    PS feel free to make additional donations to Darfur or Afghanistan instead of a gulf state. Unless you consider what the Canadian government is contributing over there in aid to be adequate…

  15. Myles: Thanks for your comments. One note–I picked 4 weeks more or less at random. According to the media, the vast majority of those affected by Katrina now have food, water and shelter, and have had for a couple of days. I’m sorry if I wasn’t clear, but I never meant to imply that “help will get there in 4 weeks”, because help has already arrived.

  16. > the worst day in the life of the person most negatively affected by Katrina is still probably somewhat better than the best days of the lives of people in places like the Sudan, Afghanistan, Sri Lanka.

    That’s an interesting comparison, because more than one reporter actually there said it was worse than 3rd world nations that they had been in where disasters and wars (same thing) had happened.

  17. What i find amusing is that you refer to Charity as an “exceptonaly personal decision” and then you broadcast to your own blog your own personal reasons on charity at a sensitive time

    You really are a fool Darren.

  18. Stephen: If you ask me, my blog is a pretty personal place. That photo at the top of the page…that’s me. As such, it’s a very natural spot to discuss my ideas or philosophies.

    To get pedantic, I believe we’re using different definitions of the term ‘personal’. You mean “relating to somebody’s private life”, while I mean “done by one individual only” or “believed by individual person”. Should I have said ‘each individual’s decision’? Maybe, though charity certainly can be a private decision, so ‘personal’ is probably le mot juste.

    Regardless, is a difference of semantics the only reason you’re calling me a fool, or do you have something else to offer?

  19. Darren, I’m with you 100%. I refused to donate to the Hurricane and the tsunami as well, because I felt that my money could be better used elsewhere (ie. Darfur).

  20. There are people facing dire situations every day, both here in Vancouver and elsewhere. When an unexpected disaster hits, like the tsunami or the Katrina flooding, charities who attempt to alleviate everyday suffering in the world sometimes find there is a drop in their donations because suddenly everyone is responding to the latest problem.

    Diversity is needed in charity. No one is able to donate money and/or time to every cause. While I know the people affected by Katrina would be happy to benefit from our donations, I’m sure our local homeless and poor would also appreciate the help, as would the starving in Darfur and those devastated by the tsunami last December.

  21. After reading the already-long string of comments and rebuttals, I’m not sure there is much new I can say.

    Of course, you are free to donate or not donate as you see fit – charity is a personal (and rather private) affair. Or at least, it should be.

    I feel, though, that it is important to take issue with some of the reasons that you cite when justifying why you choose not to donate to the Katrina Relief Effort. But before I delve into that, there are some places where I think we’d agree – namely that yes, it is entriely appropriate to do good in your own backyard. And yes, it is entriely appropriate to choose your own charities, and donate to them as you are able.

    However, I don’t think it is at all appropriate to not donate because:

    In the next four weeks, every American citizen will get the help they need. Fours weeks in the world’s poorest places, the Darfurs and Afghanistans, will see 800,000 people needlessly die.

    I think it is demonstrably false that many people are not getting the help they need. Whether donations will have a marked impact on the effectiveness of delivering care to Katrina victims is certainly a topic that is ripe for debate, but I am an optimist, and I believe that the answer is ‘yes’ – and that donations will do at least as much good as the bumbling FEMA assistance has done, which is eminently achieveable. What troubles me more though, is am implied causal connection between “donating to Katrina” and “not donating to other more worthwhile charities” (c.f Darfur)

    It seems far more reasonable to me to operate under the assumption that people who have been donating to other causes will not suddenly stop, just becuase of donating to Katrina. Yes, true, some people who are already committed to other causes may not be able to take on an additional donation. However, it seems to me that “reactive donation” is an asset in this scenario, rather than the quasi-liability you make it out to be. Those people who are reactive givers probably weren’t going to donate to Darfur anyway – so the fact that Katrina has got them out helping in some capacity is nothing but a win-win scenario.

    You are not a reactive giver, which is fine. So how does adding a donation to Katrina really affect you? It seems to me that your reason for not giving is more “Anti-American Government Polemic” than “I’m not giving becuase of some other valid reason”.

    Let’s pick a different, unrelated crisis to examine under the same light. Heck, how about Darfur? Let’s say that “In the next four weeks, every Sudanese citizen will get the help they need.” Despite the ongoing crisis, would this be reason enough for you to not donate to this cause? Once a situation no longer appear hopeless, once there is light at the end of the tunnel, is that when it becomes okay to not give because someone else is taking care of the problem?

    I’d be very interested to read a response on this. It’s too bad the timing and tone of this whole discussion are so close to the actual disaster. It strikes me as somewhat culturally insensitive, but that’s just me.

  22. Josh: Thanks for your thoughtful comments. It’s a busy day, so I’ll try to keep this brief.

    “demonstrably false that many people are not getting the help they need”

    Then please demonstrate this. It’s my impression from the media that, say, 95% of displaced citizens now have food, water, shelter and medical attention. That is, they’re now receiving more aid than, say, the average citizen of the Sudan.

    I did a quick search, but was unable to find an actual percentage (this site looked promising, but was of little actual help). There is a small percentage left to be recovered or rescued, but, as I understand it, the vast majority is being taken care of.

    “am [sic] implied causal connection between “donating to Katrina” and “not donating to other more worthwhile charities” (c.f Darfur)”

    First off, we’d need to go talk to some charities, and find out how the Tsunami aid campaign affected them.

    For me, there is a very causal relationship. I have x dollars a year to give. If I give to Katrina-related agencies, then I’m not going to give that money to a charity which I usually support. Why is my total charitable amount fixed (or, rather, linked to my annual revenue)? Because that’s convenient for me and a fact of how I manage my personal finances.

    More importantly, there are crises of all sorts all over the planet every year. I could, I suppose, become an entirely reactive donor, distributing that money to whatever the current crisis was. However, as I’ve said, charity is personal. I’m not going to let the media or acts of God choose for me. If everyone was a reactive donor, there’d be lots of long view organizations (such as the David Suzuki Foundation) which would go penniless.

    “It seems to me that your reason for not giving is more “Anti-American Government Polemic” than “I’m not giving becuase of some other valid reason”.”

    You’re the second commenter to put that philosophy in my mouth. Can you support your allegation? What evidence have you got to back up that position?

    “Heck, how about Darfur? Let’s say that “In the next four weeks, every Sudanese citizen will get the help they need.” Despite the ongoing crisis, would this be reason enough for you to not donate to this cause? Once a situation no longer appear hopeless, once there is light at the end of the tunnel, is that when it becomes okay to not give because someone else is taking care of the problem?”

    Clearly, I’m not concerned with short-term giving. Why else would I give to the same set of charities year after year?

    There’s a logical problem in your example. The US is probably the best-equipped nation on the planet to assist its citizenry in the long term. The Sudan is among the least. As I’ve indicated, I’ve chosen four weeks more or less at random. Make it 12 weeks if you like. The point is that, after the immediate crisis has passed, American citizens:

    * Will receive extensive longer term aid from all levels of government
    * Will have an opportuntity to seek gainful employment (there are job fairs already occuring in the southern states)
    * Will be able to apply for insurance pay-outs
    * Have a rich network of non-profit organizations to draw upon
    * Can depend on relatives in unafflicted areas

    Those are just a few of the many support mechanisms in place for Katrina victims in the medium to long term.

    In the Sudan? Even with four or twelve or twenty weeks of aid, they face:

    * Risk of slaughter by warring factions
    * Disease
    * No opportuntity for advancement or employment
    * Few to no agencies to rely upon for aid.

    Katrina victims have great odds, in terms of eventually returning to a life like the one they were leading before the disaster. In the Sudan, once your magic aid leaves, they’re back to starvation, illness and death.

    In the States, I expect that government, economics and opportunity will take care of the problem, and the demand for aid will tail off over the next (and I’m just guessing here) six months. In Darfur, nothing would change.

  23. classic darren barefoot:

    “me, me, me, look at me, I, me, me, me, me, me, oh there are people dying?, did I mention me? no really, check me out!”

  24. Ali: Have you checked out this site’s URL? If you’re not interested in what I think, this is the last site you want to visit. There are plenty of other sites in the links off the front page. They’re sites I like, though, so they may not appeal to you.

    Feel free to call me egotistical, but I take offense at your implication that I’m uncharitable. I’ve supported a lot of causes on and off this site.

    Now, do you have anything cogent to add to this debate, or are you happy to take juvenile potshots?

  25. As for offenses: if you take offense at an implication I did not make, I had taken offense at the insensitivity of your post trivializing the prolonged pain and suffering of thousands. Again, not everything is about you, sometimes it’s about them.

    As for cogent things: It’s my sincere belief that times like these are not time to think about the best expenditure of your money, or the effectiveness, honesty, and efficiency of charitable and/or governmental organizations. So what if some of the money one donates goes to waste? It’s better than none of it getting there. That in Darfur nothing will change is also irrelevent here — if you feel strongly about that cause, do something about it — but that is no reason to not help the other people in need. You finally mention that you *expect* the government, etc to fix everything but most people living in the real world would be quick to tell you these *expectations* are the cause of much suffering. If nothing else, everyone left currently homeless was also expecting their government to come and help them.

  26. Ali’s response hints at a lot of what I had wanted to say, but it’s more concise.


    “demonstrably false that many people are not getting the help they need”

    Then please demonstrate this. It’s my impression from the media that, say, 95% of displaced citizens now have food, water, shelter and medical attention

    Perhaps I was overzealous, and did not qualify my statement when I wrote this. Indeed, I think it is fairly well-known fact that the bulk of those people who are most in need, those who still remain in the city out of neglect – those who have been failed by the system up until now are by virtue of their existance not getting the help they need. However, is 95% “good enough”? Somehow, I think not.


    There’s a logical problem in your example. The US is probably the best-equipped nation on the planet to assist its citizenry in the long term.
    {…}
    Those are just a few of the many support mechanisms in place for Katrina victims in the medium to long term.

    This is all well and good, but overly idealistic. The USA is far from a utopia when issues of race, economics, and class are concerned. The fact that this disaster is ongoing in the southeast Atlantic Coast, long a hotbed of racial and economic tension and divisiveness, only amplifies this. I do not mean to be blunt, but sometimes one must be, and this is one of those times. The hardest-hit, most-afflicted victims of this disaster are poor, black citizens of New Orleans who could not afford to leave the city. Do the well-to-do WASPs who drove out of the city days in advance to stay with relatives elsewhere need a helping hand? Of course they do. Yes, they will recover, probably, in the long term.

    These are not the people who need charity the most though. The people in NO who need help the most are the homeless, the economically disadvantaged, and those who were already falling through the cracks before this disaster, and have now fallen a little further down. The history of poverty in America is of course long and storied, and while there are far worse tragedies ocurring every day, it is naive and insensitive to suggest that the problem should be brushed aside becuase it is in the USA’s power to correct it. It is in the USA’s power to do many things, but the proof is in the pudding, and is a matter of priority.

    In all likelihood, the most disadvantaged will not have a home to go to in a year, will not be saved by the market economy, or any of those things – because they sure weren’t engaged with the rest of society in that way before.

    To suggest otherwise, I think, is a mark of ignoring the problem in the hopes it will go away. It won’t. I cannot help but recall the incredibly insensitive remarks of Barbara Bush earlier on in the week, when asked for comments on precisely this issue.


    “It seems to me that your reason for not giving is more “Anti-American Government Polemic” than “I’m not giving becuase of some other valid reason”.”

    You’re the second commenter to put that philosophy in my mouth. Can you support your allegation? What evidence have you got to back up that position?

    No, you got me on this one. I cannot substantiate this, and it is entirely a matter of opinion, and really shouldn’t weight into more substantive elements of discussion.

  27. Ali: “It’s my sincere belief that times like these are not time to think about the best expenditure of your money, or the effectiveness, honesty, and efficiency of charitable and/or governmental organizations. So what if some of the money one donates goes to waste?”

    I disagree with you. In fact, it’s especially at times like these that you should think about where you make your charitable donations. Haven’t you seen the news reports about the emerging Katrina sheisters?

    I also think you should evaluate non-profits and governments, to ensure you’re happy with where your money (including, obviously, your tax dollars) goes. To draw on an earlier example, I might actually prefer to give my money to Ducks Unlimited instead of Greenpeace (or vice versa). They’re agencies with similar goals, but vastly different strategies for achieving those goals.

    Why would I not think about how I spent my charity dollars?

    I’ve never referred to wasted money, so I’m not sure why you’re introducing that aspect. I’d assume that money donated to the Red Cross for Katrina victims would be spent as responsibly as money donated to any other reputable charity.

    “You finally mention that you *expect* the government, etc to fix everything but most people living in the real world would be quick to tell you these *expectations* are the cause of much suffering. If nothing else, everyone left currently homeless was also expecting their government to come and help them.”

    Actually, if you read carefully, I say “I expect that government, economics and opportunity will take care of the problem and the demand for aid will tail off over the next (and I’m just guessing here) six months”.

    So, while I’d expect the American government to play a large role in getting people back on their feet, I’d expect private industry, non-profits, relatives of victims, etc. to also play central roles.

    I’ve never denied that there is a need for immediate aid. And, though I haven’t indicated, I agree that the American government has failed its people in the last week. In light of that failure, I’m certain that they’ll compensate in the next few months. After all, President Bush just applied to Congress for a $51.8 billion relief bill. It’s no doubt the first of many.

    My point to Josh was that the lives of affected American citizens will get significantly better in the next six months. In fact, those with insurance and supportive families may fully recover (physically and financially, that is). The lives of citizens in Darfur, who are suffering equal or worse harships, will not.

  28. Josh:However, is 95% “good enough”? Somehow, I think not.

    Remember that 95% rate is improving, and will no doubt reach 100% in the next couple of weeks.

    So, not being an expert in disaster recovery, I couldn’t say whether 95% after a week is good, bad or average. Speaking anecdotally, I think the government (at sundry levels) has failed to respond quickly enough to this crisis.

    My point: in a couple of weeks, every American who wants aid will have it. In the weeks and months following that, everyone who wants further assistance should get it.

    In all likelihood, the most disadvantaged will not have a home to go to in a year, will not be saved by the market economy, or any of those things – because they sure weren’t engaged with the rest of society in that way before.

    A year from now, the worst off, homeless, displaced American will still better off than the average Sudanese. If we’re basing charity strictly on need (which seems to be your line of argument–I may be wrong), then there are far more desperate regions than the American south (today, a week ago or a year in the future).

    To suggest otherwise, I think, is a mark of ignoring the problem in the hopes it will go away. It won’t.

    People have been ignoring African for, what, 100 years? That problem hasn’t gone away either. In terms of human suffering (another, I think, hallmark of your approach), it dwarves Katrina.

    I’m not sure I entirely understand your point, Josh. I’ve guessed at it here (that charity should be based on need and easing the worst human suffering), but could you restate it?

  29. Let me first say I agree with you Darren and share your feelings on donating to this cause.

    In one of my classes today the prof said “we have a responsibility to acknowledge how lucky we are”. I think the fact that people contibute at all is of the most importance.

    Unless the organization benefiting is an extremist one which would harm others, the cause itself is of secondary importance in my view.

    I commend you for having a set budget to do this.

  30. I wrote a similar sort of muse shortly after the tsunami in the New Year. My reaction was certainly not anti-anything, and I’m still on the same page regarding Katrina.

    I noted about the vast mobilization of resources after 9/11, the tsunami – and now Hurricane Katrina. Mass murder begets more charity than serial murder, I think: maybe there’s the feeling that we can DO something about a sudden crisis, whereas ongoing crises turn into background buzzing. To me, crisis just adds more people to the not-very-elite club of the planet’s deeply suffering; but I have to agree with Darren – those in Darfur aren’t going to have the same resources as those in the States. They also, as individual people, don’t have the same access to the media – so it’s a throbbing mass of pain, rather than pain-with-a-name. (Although, with work, you can find individual stories from Darfur, too.)

    I do have awareness that those worst affected in the States don’t have access to the best resources… and herein lies the strength of the do-something panic in a lot of people. The shock of Katrina certainly has hit all sorts of chords underlying the American economic and political system – in an already polarized society. I think there’s more than a humanitarian crisis here – there’s a political crisis. I imagine that’s a big reason why what you’ve said is ‘shocking’, and why you prefaced it as such; because the relief is so politicized, it might seem that you’re choosing an American political position. On the other hand, very few people in North America are affected by the politics of Darfur.

    No one had a problem with my reaction to the Tsunami, and I mentioned it in a number of forums.

    Anyway, my heart really goes to all of those suffering in the south right now, but my money continues to go to my regular charities. As with the Tsunami, I may donate a little more since it’s my suspicion that the international charities I support probably get a little less when these sorts of things happen. Maybe I’ll re-do.

  31. Hi Darren

    The exact same debate is taking place in Ireland. The government is sending €1m and a lot of people complained because the government sent €2m to Niger, one of the poorest countries in the world where nearly a million people face starvation. Opposers to the Katrina donation are accused of being anti-american but it’s simple math – the US is the most powerful nation on earth and can easily spend the required money. African countries have nothing and need every penny. I have huge sympathy with the victims of Katrina but their government can help them. btw check out this mad link about some dodgy goings on at the “refugee centres” http://www.abovetopsecret.com/forum/fema.html

  32. btw Ali, this is Darren’s blog..we’re here to read his views so its really stupid to complain that you have to read them.

  33. I have the feeling you are using the Katrina disaster to promote your own views.

    If you don’t want to contribute, fine, but you using the situation as an opportunity for promotion; of your blog and the charities you support.

  34. Darren,

    I respect your donation decision, but to those who say that after 4 / 12 / 100 weeks, all will be OK in the U.S. that view is more than a little Pollyannish.

    Even 10 years after Hurricane Andrew hit, the economic and social effects are still being felt. The dead don’t rise, houses don’t rebuild, lost wages don’t re-appear and when was the last time your insurance covered all your losses?

    So, if don’t donate to the Red Cross in the name of immediate food and water, do something more long-term. Donate to the Louisiana branch of the Sierra Club, or to the Family Planning centers that need to rebuild. Or even to the suicide prevention lines in Texas and Florida, where families may still be dealing with grief, poverty and loss issues years from now.

  35. Here’s another reason why donating to to Katrina victims is essentially useless.

    “FEMA-Recommended Charity “Operation Blessing” Gives Half Its Cash to Pat Robertson’s Christian Broadcasting Network.”

    source:

    http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2005/09/11/femarecommended-charity-_n_7179.html

    And, Travis, you know that Pat Robertson has a diamond operation in Africa. You know that don’t you? In essance, pour your money to all these charity orgs, who will then give it to FEMA and eventually our “God” given gift Pat Robertson to extract more diamonds and to persuade American government to take down other governments offcials. Fricking nice!

    Thanks but no thanks.

  36. Travis

    Instead of begging, write to your congressman and demand your government to take of these poor people. Instead of ridiculously pursuing world domination and oil profiteering, your government should focus on Americans.

    You let the guy in, you pay the price. And I am very sorry life isn’t fair. Next time, elect someone who puts more values to the life of people than oil barrels from the Middle East.

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