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Comments on Saturday 1 January 2005:
In the wake of the recent tsunami, a lot of people seem to be saying that governments should be throwing more money at disaster relief funds. I say no they shouldn't. Don't get me wrong, disaster relief funds are all very nice, and it's a delightful humanitarian thing to do, but that's not the government's job. The government's job is to represent the will of its people. If people want to be humanitarian and help out disaster victims in another country, they can and do. I'm all for the government facilitating that - if they set up a nice easy way for the country's people to put tax-deductible donations into a fund with low overheads, did good disaster-relief stuff with that fund, and encouraged the people to donate, that'd be cool.

But that's not what people are saying governments should do. They're saying that their government should take a hunk of everyone's money, and decide to help out another country with it. Do you think the people would be happy if the government said "hey guys, we're increasing tax by 1% this year to help out this other country"? I don't think they would. So would taking 1% off the top of the existing taxes for the same purpose be better? No, it would be the same thing. "Hey guys, you know that money you gave us so your kids could go to a good school and your roads would be in good repair and you wouldn't get mugged? Well we're spending it on building some stuff in some other country! Ha ha! Fuck you!"

If some percentage of taxes is already earmarked for foreign aid, that's fine, the citizens are paying taxes knowing (if they do their research) that that's one of the things they're paying for. Sure, they probably hate that the government is taxing them so much and have no choice but to pay because going to another country isn't actually a feasible option, so it's essentially extortion for a cause, but ... wait, where was I going with that? [01:06]

Maxor
Raven you are expecting people to consider the chain of events triggered by their own actions. For some reason most people seem totally unable to comprehend they are the source of the money their government has. I'm unable to fathom why so many people don't understand the general idea of cause and effect relationships and also that when governments spend more taxes go up and usually disproportionately (can't spell to lazy to look up) to what was acomplished because the government added needless layers of buerocracy. Either that or they think their lobby is good enough that their taxes won't get raised and it'll be on someone else's back. Hum anyone know what lobby represents the lower middle class non-minority male in the US?

Digi
The government's job is indeed to represent the will of it's people, and right now, in the UK at least, the vast majority of people want the government to give arse-loads of money and aid to the countries in question. I have radio phone-in shows on in the background most of the time, read a lot of different news sources, and watch television from time to time, and through the last week I've heard three people say "Give less". One's you, one's someone on your Livejournal friend page, and one was an anonymous caller on a phone-in show, who made racist remarks and then hung up - not presenting any logical arguments as to why the government should give no aid (like you, or your LJ pal are doing), merely stating that he didn't want coons and slopes to get any cash, ever, for any reason, from anyone. Everyone else, that I've heard, has been saying "give more".

But do you really think if, for example's sake, the UK government said "Sorry global community, giving aid isn't our job, our citizens can independently donate, if they want" everytime an aid-worthy event happened, we'd be all that popular? How much aid would we get if we suddenly needed it? Would it improve our position in any future international negotiations that might take place, about anything?

The government giving aid is in the intrest of the people, and it's their will (in this case).

RavenBlack
Agreed, Digi - I'm not actually saying the government should give less. Governments are behaving reasonably in this instance, as far as I'm concerned. What I'm annoyed by is people saying "other people's governments should give more."

Canada, actually, did what I want - they gave a bit, then said "hey, people, here's a government-organised fund so if you want us as a country to help more, you can make it so." That's ideal, because it's not taking money from citizens who don't think it's in their interests, but it's still the country that gets the good-will credit (rather than a charity that has little use for international good-will).

Digi
Aha, I certainly agree with that. That's particularly twatish behaviour, and I havn't encountered anything like that, but maybe that's because in this country most people have been saying that this government has pledged far too little. This sheds some light - no wonder the whole thing has turned into a guilt-driven auction.

And what about Japan giving half a billion $US, eh?

Soli
I'd like to see the American government give more, because Americans have their bullshit sense of entitlement that causes them not to donate nearly enough to important causes. Much of our income comes from exploitation of foreign workers and resources (don't start a debate on the consequences of trying to stop this; the point is, it's not like we worked 10x as hard as Third World Country X's residents to get our disproportionate wealth), and our position as global market leaders has led much of the world's money into our hands. I'm not advocating that we try to equalise the wealth of Americans and that of Southeast Asians, because that wouldn't be good for anyone, really, but we make much more money than we deserve and when more gets taken away for other causes, it's really just less of everyone else's money being syphoned to us. We may not like higher taxes, but I'm sure the slave labourers that got their much publicised 50% wage increase in certain Nike factories - up from $1 to $1.50 per month - don't like being payed a fraction of a percent of the commodity value for unskilled labour, either. I can't speak for other countries, but we have no moral ground on which to demand that we not spend our tax money on extra aid.

RavenBlack
Maybe no moral ground, but there's pretty sound ethical ground - taxes are supposed to be given to the government for services that benefit the people of the country. Whether or not the money is deserved or should be there in the first place is immaterial to whether the government should be giving it away.

lil riper
Raven you shoud run for president.

paige
Finally someone saying what I'm thinking!!

Fled
Agreed.

delijoan
what i know is this: the world is a mess, and lots of people are scrambling to solve, at least for now, lots of problems of various sizes. I'll be happy if i personally can save the life of a mouse my landlord wants to poison, with my little live-trap and some cashew butter. There's got to be a better way to organise people by the causes that drive them, so they can unite and do more together, when need arises. But I know my little mouse isn't going to be helped by this posting. If I can't even manage a little mouse, what have I possibly got to contribute for a bigger cause? (Before anyone says 'money,' I'm broke. Even my live trap was a gift from a friend.)

Ian
Public rallies devoted to raising awareness of what you are concerned about might not be a bad place to start. Asside from the money required to get there, the cost of joining those is negligable.

Writing to your local governmental representative can at least bring your concerns to their notice and if you convince enough other people to do so then the representative may even listen.

Joining a charity as one of its workers can also be a fine way of helping out (provided you can find a charity that represents your individual concerns). The work they offer can range from canvassing town centres for cash, to helping to administer the organisation, to performing such field work as building wells or helping to establish town/province/country wide infra-structures.

Dragonseye
If you do write to one of your "local governmental representatives" don't expect anything to be done. Don't get me wrong the government does have some good points to it but listening to other's concerns is not one of there strong points.

As for charities thats all fine and goos but to truly get the word out your going to have to find one large charity. The reason for this is, if you find a small charity your supporting a good cause but not much will be done because the government doesn't see the little people (they hardly ever see the large charities either if I may add but you do have a better chance).

Dragonseye
(good*) sorry my typing skills suck.

Meat
I think that is good.

Dragonseye
You mean my typing skill? No actually compared to some people I know I really suck at typing.

But thank you anyway.

Valawyn
I agree that we(The US) should be pulling out right about now... Things dont always go as planned, or desired. Governments should most definitely have funds and back ups for disasters and the like, but they can do only so much. I think the best idea that has been offered as of yet is that there should be other relief funds to supplement the existing funds of the government.

Hey, its not that hard, people are already doing it! The Federal Government should have a hand in organizingthem however.

Valawyn
*organizing them

(My space bar is being moody it seems)
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