Thursday, December 30, 2004

American 'Stinginess'

So, we're stingy, are we? Is this what Egeland means by "stingy"? I'm in awe.

This is the same reasoning my beloved mother (God rest her soul) tried to use on me when I was a child: a poor woman who donates her last dollar is more charitable than a rich man who gives an easily-afforded $1000. I understood her point, which was that the poor woman sacrificed the most in terms of what was donated/what was available. But I still thought that if I was in desperate need of help to rebuild my house or buy medicine, I'd really appreciate that $1000 even though it represented a smaller portion of the giver's income. And I also wondered what that woman was going to do now that she no longer had any money; the alternatives were for her to starve or to become the recipient of charity herself. Hardly helpful. It would have made more sense for her to invest that dollar, build up some capital, and then donate $1000 herself. Better yet, she could use that capital to start her own business and provide employment and low-cost goods for people in need, and still make enough money to afford $1000 donations.

This is what's great about America (the Protestant ethic): we believe you can better help others by working toward being in a better position, yourself. I'm a student, so money is tight and I only donated $10 to the tsunami disaster relief fund. I'm pretty sure some wealthy individuals out there have donated $1000 or more each. Whether or not they could have afforded more means nothing to the people who are receiving this aid: overall, $1000 helps more people and does more good than my $10. And that's all that matters. Someday when I am a professional, I'll make more money and be capable of helping in a larger way. In the meantime, it makes no difference to someone who needs hospital care or a roof over his head that a wealthy donor could have afforded more. What matters is that they got what they needed.

The fact is that American "greediness" enables us to help more people than any other nation, and this just sticks in the craw of U.N. toads like Egeland.

Meanwhile, the French drain their bank accounts to send an emergency shipment of tutus to Sri Lanka.


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