The United States isn’t stingy

If you’re like me, you’ve enjoyed the recent blustery weather. There are differences, of course. I grew up in the Midwest, where snow actually gets plowed the day it falls. I’d chalk up our local governments’ responses to the weather as bureaucratic incompetence, but, considering that snow rarely falls in these amounts on the valley floor, I can forgive the less-than-adequate snow-removal services. At least I’ve been able to pick up a hot pizza for dinner.

Being prepared for the elements may help explain why I own my Sherman Tank SUV. It can successfully navigate three-foot snow drifts and people in small cars who haven’t learned when not to drive a two-wheel-drive.

The tank has allowed me to help my fellow man on many occasions, but the next time your Yugo is stuck in a snowdrift, you may want to consider removing the “Bush Sucks” and “SUVs Pollute” bumper stickers. Otherwise, I’d suggest an AAA membership and warm gloves for the three-hour tow truck wait, as I prefer to withhold my aid from people who insult me and my beliefs.

Of course, as disasters go, our snowfall was insignificant compared with the tsunami in Asia. I don’t have cable or satellite, so I was stuck watching the networks racing to get the highest body count. How anyone arrives at 150,000-plus dead people from multiple third-world countries as even an approximate figure is beyond me. At last count, Ted Koppel predicted another 150,000-plus to die from illnesses, based on estimates from the World Health Organization.

You may note that exactly one year ago to the day of the tsunami incident, there was the earthquake in Bam, Iran. According to ABC’s Michele McQueen, that natural disaster left some 26,000 Iranians dead and more than 100,000 homeless. Worldwide support was overwhelming—at the time.

I leave it to your conscience whether to contribute 5 cents or $5 million. The Bush administration pledged an initial $15 million (later raised) to the nations hit by the tsunami, yet Jan Egeland, United Nations undersecretary general for humanitarian affairs and emergency relief coordinator, had the unmitigated gall to call the United States and other Western nations “stingy.” He went on to say there would be more money available if taxes were raised. How nice that this U.N. lackey has a grasp of taxes in light of the U.N. Oil for Food scandal in Iraq—still a fresh scab on his boss Kofi Annan’s reputation.

Today, less than half of the dollars pledged to Iran have been received from those less-than-stingy countries.

The U.N. loon immediately retracted the insult, saying he had been misinterpreted and that the United States was “most generous.” But the New York Times was sticking with “stingy.” In an editorial headlined “Are We Stingy? Yes,” the Times said the U.N. diplomat “was right on target.”

Really? According to the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development, the United States gave $37.8 billion in 2003 of the total $108.5 billion in foreign aid actually given from the world’s major countries. You may note that this amount was more than three times the amount given from the next-largest donor, the Netherlands, which checked in at $12.2 billion. Americans make up about 5 percent of the world’s population and gave about 35 percent of the aid.

Stingy indeed.