Thursday 30 December 2004

I work all night, I work all day, to pay the bills I have to pay

Lots of bloggers have been talking about the aftermath of the Tsunami, so this is not going to be the most original post you will ever read on this blog. I will not apologise for the repetition though.... I cannot watch bodies being hurriedly bulldozed into mass graves, I cannot read the stories of the survivors or listen to the anguished, desperate appeals from people looking for news of their loved ones without saying something, without doing something....

But what can we do? What can we possibly do that might make a difference?

All I currently feel I have to contribute is some money, and so I have done this. I have given £25 to Oxfam.

It doesn't feel like enough. I feel gulity, I feel like I should give more. It's not enough. It can never be enough.

Ibrahim makes a great point over on his blog - Earthquakes, Tsunamis and Wars -

"Pick your tragedy and if you have anything left after the recent orgy of consumerism, alleviate your conscience by donating some of next week's cigarette/takeaway/petrol-that-you-use-on-journeys-you-could-walk money to some people who suffer that we may live these revolting, decadent lives."

He's quite right of course, but at the same time, I can't help but be heartened by the response of the Great British public to the images of the disaster beamed to them on their television screens and displayed in graphic detail in full colour from the front of their newspapers. £5m was raised on the phones before Wednesday's TV and Radio appeals, and another £10m was raised overnight. More money should flood in as the money paid directly into banks and building societies starts to be counted and collected.

Of course, this £15m matches (and will soon exceed) the sum pledged by the British government. The USA has pledged $35m and has sent the navy to try to help. All of this will help. Aid agencies will be able to purchase supplies with this money TODAY that will enable them to start directly helping people TOMORROW. I can't help but see this as being a tiny drop in the ocean.

Here are a few other stats that I have found:

The current cost of the War in Iraq to the US: $147, 511, 100, 000 (and counting)

Total contributions to candidates in the US Presidential elections 2004: $880.5m

Cost to the public of the London 2012 Olympic bid: £2.4b (stolen from the Urban Fox)

Federal Aid granted by Congress in the wake of the 9/11 attacks: $40b (thanks Jim)

Number of deaths in the 9/11 attacks: about 3000 (that "about" is just heartbreaking, isn't it?)

Estimated number of deaths as a result of the Tsunami SO FAR: 112,000

Estimated number of people in the region without adequate food, water or sanitation: 5m

I'm not trying to trivialise the deaths in Iraq or in the 9/11 attacks, I'm just trying to put a little context onto the amount of money we are talking about here. The scale of the disaster is enormous and I think we should be expecting our governments to do more to help. The money they have pledged is welcome and will be helpful, but they must do more, they must give more.

Hats off to the public though for their generosity. I hope it shames the government into giving more. Even the Queen is going to be contributing "a substantial amount" (whatever that means).

Peace on Earth, Goodwill to all mankind.


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