Thursday, December 30, 2004

Stingy and No Follow Through.

This whole business with Bush bristling about the US and other rich nations being called stingy has really hit a nerve with me. I don't get how the leader of the US, let alone the free world, can not respond to one of the largest natural disaters of our lifetimes for nearly 5 days, then have a press conference in which he "bristles" about the US and other rich nations being called "stingy." Now that's leadership. The richest nation in the world at first offers one-third what the President is spending on his coronation party, and he's upset that it might be looked at as stingy? The hubris is astounding.

But of course the SCLM is on this as well. As it turns out, not only is the US government, the richest in the world, stingy, but it welches on it's promises as well. From the NYT editorial board:
"...According to a poll, most Americans believe the United States spends 24 percent of its budget on aid to poor countries; it actually spends well under a quarter of 1 percent.

"Bush administration officials help create that perception gap. Fuming at the charge of stinginess, Mr. Powell pointed to disaster relief and said the United States "has given more aid in the last four years than any other nation or combination of nations in the world." But for development aid, America gave $16.2 billion in 2003; the European Union gave $37.1 billion. In 2002, those numbers were $13.2 billion for America, and $29.9 billion for Europe.

"Making things worse, we often pledge more money than we actually deliver. Victims of the earthquake in Bam, Iran, a year ago are still living in tents because aid, including ours, has not materialized in the amounts pledged. And back in 2002, Mr. Bush announced his Millennium Challenge account to give African countries development assistance of up to $5 billion a year, but the account has yet to disperse a single dollar."
So not only does the US government, the richest on the planet by a factor of nearly six , pledge less than other world leaders like the EU, but then it goes and doesn't follow through on it's promise of aide. Gotta love that! I wrote about this last week, as Bush has cut funding for charities due to his new found awareness of our huge deficit. Gee Sherlock, how'd that happen?

This is an exemplary display of why Bush makes me so angry. He makes me ashamed to be an American. He makes me ashamed of my government. How can the leader of the free world and his staff act like a bunch of spoiled school kids? At his press conference he was nearly belligerent in his rebuking of the "stingy" charge. You could hear the "how dare they" in his tone. When Bill Clinton actually took on a leadership role as Bush remained on vacation from his job as leader of the free world, here's how his official spokesperson responded to the world media:
..."The president wanted to be fully briefed on our efforts. He didn't want to make a symbolic statement about 'We feel your pain.' "

"Many Bush aides believe Clinton was too quick to head for the cameras to hold forth on tragedies with his trademark empathy. "Actions speak louder than words," a top Bush aide said, describing the president's view of his appropriate role."
What the hell is that third grade crap? Are they going to call Clinton a poo-poo face next? Such a statement is such a petty immature obvious slap at the former president that is belongs in the school yard amoung children fighting over a ball rather than from the office of the most powerful leader in the world. And what actions, exactly, had Bush taken at this time? He cleared some brush and went for a much publicized bike ride. I'd be beyond embarrassed if I was him. Maybe my mother raised me differently than Barbara raised him. I just don't get it at all.

The US government, and especially the Bush administration, don't want to use the EU's standard of percentage of GNP to measure true giving. Of course they don't. Since we are the richest nation in the world, we routinely give more as a final dollar amount than any other nation. By golly, that makes us look pretty darn good. But let me ask you a question. Suppose you make $300,000 a year, and I make $50,000 a year. I donate $500 dollars. You donate $1,000. Wow, you've donated 2/3rds of the total amount and twice my amount. Wow, you sure are generous. But if you look at percentage, I've given 1.0% and you've given 0.03% based on our incomes. Who's going to notice the donation more?

Hey, I can beat my 3-year old daughter at basketball too, but that doesn't make me a sports star.