52% intelligent. 9% modest. More monkey than bear.

Thursday, December 30, 2004

I work all night, I work all day, to pay the bills I have to pay

Lots of bloggers have been talking about the aftermath of the Tsunami, so this is not going to be the most original post you will ever read on this blog. I will not apologise for the repetition though.... I cannot watch bodies being hurriedly bulldozed into mass graves, I cannot read the stories of the survivors or listen to the anguished, desperate appeals from people looking for news of their loved ones without saying something, without doing something....

But what can we do? What can we possibly do that might make a difference?

All I currently feel I have to contribute is some money, and so I have done this. I have given £25 to Oxfam.

It doesn't feel like enough. I feel gulity, I feel like I should give more. It's not enough. It can never be enough.

Ibrahim makes a great point over on his blog - Earthquakes, Tsunamis and Wars -

"Pick your tragedy and if you have anything left after the recent orgy of consumerism, alleviate your conscience by donating some of next week's cigarette/takeaway/petrol-that-you-use-on-journeys-you-could-walk money to some people who suffer that we may live these revolting, decadent lives."

He's quite right of course, but at the same time, I can't help but be heartened by the response of the Great British public to the images of the disaster beamed to them on their television screens and displayed in graphic detail in full colour from the front of their newspapers. £5m was raised on the phones before Wednesday's TV and Radio appeals, and another £10m was raised overnight. More money should flood in as the money paid directly into banks and building societies starts to be counted and collected.

Of course, this £15m matches (and will soon exceed) the sum pledged by the British government. The USA has pledged $35m and has sent the navy to try to help. All of this will help. Aid agencies will be able to purchase supplies with this money TODAY that will enable them to start directly helping people TOMORROW. I can't help but see this as being a tiny drop in the ocean.

Here are a few other stats that I have found:

The current cost of the War in Iraq to the US: $147, 511, 100, 000 (and counting)

Total contributions to candidates in the US Presidential elections 2004: $880.5m

Cost to the public of the London 2012 Olympic bid: £2.4b (stolen from the Urban Fox)

Federal Aid granted by Congress in the wake of the 9/11 attacks: $40b (thanks Jim)

Number of deaths in the 9/11 attacks: about 3000 (that "about" is just heartbreaking, isn't it?)

Estimated number of deaths as a result of the Tsunami SO FAR: 112,000

Estimated number of people in the region without adequate food, water or sanitation: 5m

I'm not trying to trivialise the deaths in Iraq or in the 9/11 attacks, I'm just trying to put a little context onto the amount of money we are talking about here. The scale of the disaster is enormous and I think we should be expecting our governments to do more to help. The money they have pledged is welcome and will be helpful, but they must do more, they must give more.

Hats off to the public though for their generosity. I hope it shames the government into giving more. Even the Queen is going to be contributing "a substantial amount" (whatever that means).

Peace on Earth, Goodwill to all mankind.



  • At 12:01 pm, Blogger swisslet said…


    Can I just clarify that the London bid is not in fact being run on £2.4b stolen from Fox....

    I was referring, of course, to the link that I blatantly stole from Fox and felt the need to credit.

    Fox's £2.4b is still safely tucked up under the mattress.

  • At 12:48 pm, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    I have no problem with the US not giving more for this disaster. The total $ coming from America will be vastly more, mainly from private donations (eg, Pfizer is donating medical supplies) and aid agencies like the American Red Cross or MSF getting donations from the public. One very intersting commentary I heard was that while governments do need to give, the bureaucracy is huge and often isn't as effective as personal help via the above.

  • At 2:02 pm, Blogger the urban fox said…

    *checks stash of stolen Nazi gold*

    You know, my patience is rapidly running out on this one. I can't believe that people are dying SOLELY BECAUSE aid is not arriving fast enough. While Bush waltzes in on the 4th day - 4th day! Because it's not urgent, is it? - with his "Stand back love, I'm in charge" nonsense, and offers tuppence ha'penny. And none of the news outlets do more than make the odd slightly pointed remark about the UN calling the USA stingy and the USA refuting it. Where are all the editorials pointing out this PR-mongering hypocrisy?

    And if I read one more American's solipsistic "So? Not our fault they didn't install the early warning system/build better structures/happen to be born in a richer country" whinings, I may vomit.

    Intelligent, compassionate Americans, please don't be insulted when I say that there is a vocal minority of Americans who believe that if suffering does not occur in America, it does not exist. The trouble is, if this disaster doesn't put the world into perspective for them, nothing will.

    In fact, if I hear any more perpetual victimhood from those very same people about the New York terrorist tragedy of 2001, while ignoring those who suffer atrocities in ANY OTHER COUNTRY ON EARTH, I am in danger of imploding. Truly.


  • At 3:35 pm, Blogger LB said…

    can the Government claim gift aid on their donations?

    If they donate £15m can they get the tax back from the Inland Revenue? that could be a lot of money.

    look, if everyone gave £25, that'd raise bloody loads mate, dont worry about that. I did the same and also gave them my daughters £2 pocket money for this week - I thought she could start as she means to go on!

  • At 8:18 pm, Blogger Jenni said…

    Just wanted to add that the amount pledged by the US government for aid is roughly equivalent to the amount we are going to be spending on the Inaugural Ball. Also, Leah told me that this is the first time the US has ever had an inaugration soiree during a time of war. (If that's incorrect, I blame her ;) ).

  • At 8:28 pm, Blogger Tom said…

    Very good. Clear and concise. Put my thoughts better than I could have myself.

  • At 9:40 pm, Blogger Aravis said…

    Fox, when it comes to dubya's response to this mess, Deborah White said it best for me in this blog post.

    It's so sad that people couldn't see behind his smiling mask.

  • At 10:58 pm, Blogger the urban fox said…

    Thanks for the link, Aravis. Great post. Deborah is right on the button. (Course, I'd tell her myself if she had comments enabled!)

  • At 5:46 am, Blogger Aravis said…

    I know; that drives me nuts. She writes such great things and I want to discuss, but can't. However, given her views- political and religious, she probably didn't want to have to deal with any negativity that was posted.

  • At 2:51 pm, Blogger Me said…

    Thanks for your supportive words recently. Mike


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