Fear of Clowns

"Faith may be defined briefly as an illogical belief in the occurrence of the improbable."
- H. L. Mencken

Thursday, December 30, 2004

This Cocky Christian White House: Tsunami presents excellent opportunity 

From today's White House chat session with USAID's Andrew Natsios,

Robert, from Portland, Oregon writes:
It would be great to illustrate to the world just how large an effort we are making to help the Southeast Asia Earthquake victims. I read that we are sending not only money, but a navy carrier group, air force planes ect. What a great opportunity to show the world how much we care.

Andrew Natsios:
The United States has traditionally been the most generous of the donor governments in providing humanitarian assistance in disaster relief. During the last fiscal year - 2003 - the United States provided $2.4 billion in disaster assistance for emergencies worldwide including the emergency in the Darfur region in Sudan, the Caribbean hurricanes, etc. Our contributions amounted to 40 percent of the total disaster contributions last year. America will continue to be the most generous of nations through our government-to-government contributions channeled through USAID and through donations from private charitable organizations and non-governmental organizations. This is an excellent opportunity to demonstrate the generosity of the American spirit.

Ask the White House, December 30, 2004

So, apparently to the White House, the Tsunami presents a silver lining in that it will spotlight our generosity. Compare,

"Be careful not to do your 'acts of righteousness' before men, to be seen by them. If you do, you will have no reward from your Father in heaven.

"So when you give to the needy, do not announce it with trumpets, as the hypocrites do in the synagogues and on the streets, to be honored by men. I tell you the truth, they have received their reward in full."

- Jesus, Matthew 6

Natios explained the US's generosity in greater detail,

Measured another way, as a percentage of gross national product, the OECD's figures on development aid show that, as of April, none of the world's richest countries donated even 1 percent of its gross national product. Norway was highest, at 0.92 percent; the United States was last, at 0.14 percent.

Natsios said the Paris organization's figures overlook a key factor - the billions more Americans give each year in private donations.

"That's a European standard, this percentage that's used," Natsios said. "The United States, for 40 years, has never accepted these standards that it should be based on the gross national product. We base it on the actual dollars that we spent."

Check what Bush's "favorite political philosopher" would have to say,

Jesus sat down opposite the place where the offerings were put and watched the crowd putting their money into the temple treasury. Many rich people threw in large amounts. But a poor widow came and put in two very small copper coins, worth only a fraction of a penny.

Calling his disciples to him, Jesus said, “I tell you the truth, this poor widow has put more into the treasury than all the others. They all gave out of their wealth; but she, out of her poverty, put in everything-all she had to live on."

- Mark 12

Although the toll is still climbing, the breadth of the disaster is already beyond shocking to the conscience and in the territory of the incomprehensible: some one-upmanship regarding the aid various nations give is probably a good thing. I just wish our spokespeople weren't trying to be so cocky about it.

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