Posted by Michael Hiteshew on 31st December 2004 (All posts by Michael Hiteshew)
One morning’s natural calamity has delivered tens of thousands of new VICTIMS. Should we be surprised to see the casualty figures climbing rapidly, as we bid-up our collective transnational guilt? Cynically, bodies mean dollars right now.
The body count has grown in direct proportion to the ever-increasing promises of AID. In the same day that Colin Powell appeared on media defending MY country’s contributions and promising more, the body count climbed from 25,000 to 35,000. In the ensuing three days it seems the number has coalesced around 110,000, a four hundred percent increase from the initial reports. Add in the predicted deaths from typhus, cholera et al and we should just figure for a million plus dead.
It’s funny (in a “spooky” way – to quote Dame Edna) that countries have developed, overnight, an accurate census-taking capability when, even now, they don’t have roads, pharmaceuticals, or sewage treatment plants in their major, and uneffected cities.
Steve’s comment, left in response to Ginny’s post Borlaug & Egeland, has been echoing eerily in my ears these last few days as I’ve watched the ‘death toll’ skyrocketing in Indonesia and beyond. Perhaps I’m too cynical for my own good, but it appears to me that Natural Law is at work here: namely, when you reward something, you get more of it. In this case, body counts that are rising exponentially as each day passes. At current rates, I wouldn’t be surprised to see the entire population of Asia dead or homeless within a month.
It also seems Mr. Egeland’s comments have also had their intended effect. We now have Americans racing to ‘prove’ how generous they are and nations competing with one another to see who can provide the highest percentage of aid. Which brings me to another quote:
Generous deed should not be checked by cold counsel. ~Tolkien
Good advice, under the circumstances. Let’s provide all the aid we can, however suspicious the numbers are. The actual numbers aren’t important right now. People need food and clean water to drink. Bodies need to be gathered and buried. Many people are suddenly without homes. Let’s get those things taken care of. But let’s distribute the aid and help based on the experienced eyes and assessments of reliable organizations, not local bureaucrats, whom I trust not at all. They, I suspect, simply want control of as much of this money as they can get and as quickly as they can manage it. For them, this catastrophe is a windfall. For the bureaucrats, dead bodies are a cash crop.
And yes, I include the UN in that group.