Borlaug & Egeland

Our lives are easy – whether from the perspective of Jared Diamond’s book or our own lifetimes (my brother was out moving irrigation pipe in fifth grade and I was peddling around our village hawking newspapers – stories my children see as quite far from their experience). The deaths from the tsunami are hard to imagine, are horrible. The level of this human suffering seems beyond our ability to understand, to feel.

So, when a pompous and dry UN guy gets up and says we’re stingy, well, I’m likely to fall back on guilt. I could have put more into our Iraqi fund, I could be putting more into Tsunami relief. The charity to which our family devotes most of its energy is an ivory tower, designer one – setting up exchanges with Czech scholars, encouraging the teaching of Czech literature. But it does good and there is 0% overhead. You notice, these are all “I’s” – we think that way.

Okay, so I’m still on the defense but I am also not too crazy about my tax money’s “good deeds” being funneled through the UN conduit. We are always told to check out charities, to notice overhead – the UN’s percentage seems a bit too high for a good rating. (That’s part of the “I” – we notice things like that.)

But this post was prompted by one of those “good news we take for granted” moments – the “allies” Bush has lined up in his “coalition” are Australia, Japan, and India. And I observe, there he goes, being unilateral again. Australia’s like us – well, some would say “cocky” but we like to think we “honor indiviudualism.” But, let’s think about Japan & India.

Japan was devastated by the second world war and yet for much of our adult lives it has become a “giver”, not a “taker”–seldom a supplicant. Do we suspect that the post-WWII changes in political and economic framework was a factor? And India, built on the system the British imperialists left, has grown self-sufficient, despite Ehrlich’s predictions and because of research started forty years ago. And some gratitude can go to “the most important person you’ve probably never heard of before” – Norman Borlaug. If policy – at the UN, in India, in America – had been made on Ehrlich’s predictions, little help would be going to those devastated countries today. In addition, medicines are being sent that will do much more than those of fifty years ago because American pharmaceuticals spend money on research. (Yes, they are repaid handsomely – but sneering at them because they don’t give enough would come better from the lips of those who have found, indeed, cures to Aids or new antibiotics.)

We want to help; we should help – we are large and our living is easy. But we want ours to be a world in which others, too, help; one in which all have built infrastructures more ready to withstand what nature is inevitably going to deal out in surprising and terrible ways. (I’m not saying the high prices we pay for our meds or the taxes that go to Ag research should be counted as charities. I would argue they make bigger differences world-wide than most – probably any – UN programs.)

And so, the greatest relief to Tsumani sufferers is likely to come because we join forces, because we prioritize personally such relief, because other countries with a similar political system and similar economic systems have both benefited from American policies and research but have also benefited from their own enterprise. They, too, have become packs and not herds: they have achieved the ability to stand and after that comes the ability to offer a hand up. America and Australia are often criticized for independent self-reliance, even cockiness. But both gave aid early and strong to those beset countries. I suspect when Emerson–the big “I”–complained about the problems with charity he was thinking of people like Mr. Egeland, who judges others but has no perspective, who complains because not enough is given to him to let him be generous, that not enough is given in the ways he wants it given. I don’t think individualism, as Emerson saw it, makes one stingy. Help, he would argue, should not be be extracted by guilt but by both empathy and respect.

Individualism doesn’t mean you don’t care; it just means that you take personal responsibility, you make choices. In a tragedy like this, governments need to act. But, in general, an emphasis upon individual responsibility doesn’t seem a bad idea. We see what happens to countries that define giving in terms of the UN: Instapundit’s joke is uncomfortably close to reality when he wonders if the charity that arrives via Scrappelface isn’t going to beat that from France. The problem is that this remark, like so many of Scrappelface’s news stories, is uncomfortably close to reality. (Instapundit is now wavering – who to believe – Reuters or the French Foreign Service?)

And does that coalition tell us anything about what policies we might want to pursue in the future and how we can not stop or even always predict but in a real (if indirect) way be ready for the next tsumani or meteor or hurricane or earthquake or fire or volcano or blizzard or heat wave?

(And if you suspect this is a beat the dead horse post, you might google Ehrlich for interviews in the last few years. For instance.)

17 thoughts on “Borlaug & Egeland”

  1. When anybody asks what the United States is doing tell them this..

    “An EP-3C Orion surveillance plane assigned to the Tigers of Patrol Squadron Eight (VP-8) has been deployed to Utapoa Royal Thai Air Force Base, Thailand for survey operations in support of disaster relief after a Tsunami hit coastal regions throughout Southeast Asia. VP-8 is homeport out of Naval Air Station Brunswick, Maine.”

    We are sending Expeditionary Strike Group 5 with amphibious ships Bonhomme Richard, Duluth, Rushmore and three support escorts. In addition, the Abraham Lincoln Carrier Strike Group has been re-directed to assist.

    Go to and look up amphibious ships to see what real help looks like. We’re probably sending $10-15 Billion in equipment for humanitarian assistance. Tasking the military to subordinate itself to the civilian population is quintesentially American. Other navies with ships at sea likely never even noticed the passage of the tsunami. Now they need to close with the shore and help civilians. Can they learn from 229 years of U.S. Navy experience?

  2. Yes, interesting the EU isn’t a part of that group. I understand it’s regional, but, for the sake of cooperation and appearance of mending ties…..

  3. I’m not saying the high prices we pay for our meds or the taxes that go to Ag research should be counted as charities. I would argue they make bigger differences world-wide than most – probably any – UN programs.

    I’d agree with you there, completely. Free people are much better at solving problems than standing comittees of beaurocrats.

    I also tuned out the ‘world is coming to end’ doomsayers years ago. I have tremendous faith in our ability to solve problems, especially technologically solvable ones.

    For example, water is a perfectly good fuel. Using electricity, it cracks into hydrogen and oxygen. When burned, they release the same amount of energy it took to crack them apart (minus efficiency losses, of course) and the ‘exhaust gas’ is water vapor. Perfect, eh? Now water vapor is a greenhouse gas, but there’s no reason it can’t be condensed in the vehicle back into water. The electricity can come from nuclear or solar electric plants. So we can create as much portable fuel as we could ever want. Next time you hear that it’s inevitable we’re going to run out fuel, ask yourself how much (completely reclaimable and non-polluting) water we have available. And that’s just one among many answers to our energy problems.

  4. Andrew Natsios, Administrator US Agency for International Development, on the amount the US provides for international humanitarian relief:

    “In terms of our level of contribution, there’s been a little controversy over it. We actually checked the figures. These are OECD figures, which is the accepted international standard. It’s a standard, apples-to-apples contribution for the world. We gave 2.4 billion dollars last year, 40% of total contibutions by all countries. We are, by far, the largest donar – no one even comes close to us – and have been for a long time. Ah, the president has actually increased assistance in food aid and disaster relief while I’ve been administrator.”

    Natsios also detailed seperate NGO and corporate contibutions and comittments. Lt. General James T. Conway also listed the substantial US navy response.

    The entire disaster relief news conference can be heard here.

    Worth noting…

    A british reporter asks: You’ve responded to the criticism that the response has been too little too late, but have indicated that there’s more to come. What, realistically, should the rest of the world expect in terms of financial and practical comittment from the United States?

    Undersecretary of State for Political Affairs, Marc Grossman, responds, “[repeats Natsios’s statements, like the guy was deaf, which he apparently is, then asks]…This is going to be a gigantic international requirement, so, our expectation is that the European Union…and other nations will join in this…this is certainly not for us to do alone. So I think the premise of your question has to be tilted slightly.

    Good for him. I’m glad to see the State folks show a little backbone once in while. I don’t know how he resisted the temptation to open his answer with something like, “Apparently you were asleep while Mr. Natsios and General Conway just listed everything the world can expect, so I will refer you to the transcript.” Then moved onto the next question.

  5. Was this a press conference? He must really have been making the rounds – he was on Lehrer and Brit Hume. On Lehrer (whether because Ifill’s questions had a lot more the slant you describe from that conference than Wallace’s did or he was exhausted) he seemed a bit exasperated; he also was quite critical of Egeland, who knew better and whom he apparently works with quite often.

  6. Ginny,
    Great read, and horrifying to consider if one opposes the growth of the Transnationalist-progressive movement.

    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.

    Queerly, these numbers are
    reminiscent of civilian casualty predictions from “human rights” groups before the Afghanistan campaign, and should be equally suspect.

    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.

    I think this huge transnational wealth distribution scheme smells a lot like the World Bank (read “American Taxpayer”) bail out of the S.E. Asian economies in the ’90’s. It lets the affected nations largely avoid the feedback loop that drives reform – the FISCAL pain of decades of economic mismanagement and ignored infrastructure funding.

    Simply put, it appears these countries stand to gain billions of dollars in the form of guilt-induced welfare payments. These payments may exceed the entire region’s net GDP for 2004, if they can just have the victim count to demand it.

    Meanwhile, crazily, our textile workers, rice farmers and furniture makers still have to compete with Thai, Vietnamese, Bangladeshi and Sri Lankan cheap labor for their livelihoods.

  7. The area hit is extraordinary. Whatever the total it is tragic and horrible. And surely the extent of the tragedy will not be easily nor quickly determined.

  8. From TownHall.Com:

    The Times does not tell readers that the United States is the world’s largest food aid donor by far. In 2004, the United States provided $826,469,172 — almost a billion dollars — to the United Nations World Food Program. The next largest donor, the European Union, contributed $187,102,068. This, despite the fact that the European Union has a total population of 453 million, compared with the USA’s 281 million, and a gross domestic product that is larger than that of the United States.

    Japan was third on the list, giving $126,906,097, and the United Kingdom was fourth, with donations totaling $109,247,050. Iran gave $40,000. The Saudi Kingdom gave $3,345,325 — about the cost of one trip to Paris for the Crown Prince. And Kuwait, the OPEC fund and the Russian Federation gave nothing.

    ~Mona Charon

  9. dear respected sir ,
    we r runing an ngo i.e nayab welfare society. we r working since 1989 for peace and harmony.we r muslims but we help all needy people who r related to different religion like cristians, sikkh, hindu etc. we respect all religion . our main aim is to spread joys through all over the world help needy persons, see no tear in any one eyes spread peace and harmony. we did not takr any donation from any donar agency.we r working for needy persons by self help we have many plains and projects but due to shortage of money we cannot work on them properly.we also want to work for other countries and we want to spread there the massage of hope peace and harmony.sir pls help us . i am waiting for ur reply.

  10. I am a Social worker is working with Rural and poor people of Andhra pradesh.

    NGO name called Society For Solidarity and Reconstruction(SSR, Based in Hyderabad in Andhra Pradesh.

  11. I am Social Worker is working to the Rural and Poor People of Andhra Pradesh In India.

    NGO NAME Called Society for Solidarity and Reconstruction(SSR) Based in Hyderabad.
    Contact :
    S.Syam Sundar Reddy,
    Society for Solidarity and Reconstruction(SSR),
    # 8-3-228/587,
    Hyderabad- 500 045
    Andhra Pradesh, India.
    Phone: 91-40-23835015
    Mobile: 91-9440137474

  12. SSR Running a Non-Residential Bridge course for Slum area Children In QuthbullaiahPur Mandal of Rangareddy District in Andhra Pradesh. To Support any donars and Agencies Provide any the NRBC centre. This Centre Running in 40 Childeren age is 9 to 14 Years.

  13. Hello, Sir
    Jyotirgamaya is a non governmental organisation they do work in bihar basically basic education provide down trodden /underpreveleged children and their parents target localities at district katihar in bihar.our n.g.o registred society act 1860 XX1, and 12 A Income tax ,and effort fcra clearing .
    I want to one time provided our n.g.o.
    Rest is ok.

  14. Dear Sir/Madam,

    With respect, greetings from all of us at Sebika Sangstha (SS) and on behalf of the project to poor people of Begom Gonj Sadar Upazilla of Nokhali District, Bangladesh.

    SS is a non-political, non-profit making voluntary organization which has been working for the socio-economic development of the Urban & Rural poorest sections in Bangladesh . It was established in 1989 with the initiating of a group of the like minded social workers with an aim to promote the socio-economic and cultural status of the rural and urban poor and disadvantage people. Specially the woman and the children/ street children through conscionable, capacity building, institution, utilization of local resources and imparting need based problem solving programs. SS has registered with the concerned Government Departments like, Department of Social Services (DSS) Vide Regn. No. DHA-02397, dated 1990 and also ith the Department of Family Planning, Vide Regn. No. 6//91/6464, dated 2/11/91. SS has already organized 2800 people into 192 small groups in Noakhali Sadar Upazilla of Noakhali district. It has been implementing different development programs for the socio-economic development of those identified people by the kind financial & technical support of some national and international organization, local contribution and own contribution etc.

    It believes in non-directive, bottom up integrated and participatory development framework and act as catalyst with tits beneficiaries. It aspires for a society free from exploitation, oppress , malnutrition, all kinds of domination and when every individual will able to get equal and rightful shares of resources fulfill human basic needs, will be able to live in peace justice and harmony. Unless the poor & needy common people strive to supplement development programs of the government it may be impossible for them to resist destitution and improve their lifestyle.

    SS working areas are the riverbed island ( adjacent with main land )- where SS organized 1240 destitute landless poor woman into 62 small groups by covering 12 villages in 2 Unions, 1 Upazilla in Nokhali district and also working with slam dwellers in Urban areas under Mohammadpur Metropolitan Thana in Dhaka Capital city and organized 720 destitute families in to 48 small groups. Poverty, unemployment, malnutrition, illiteracy, male domination, human rights violation, river erosion, tidal surge, diarrhea & other water born diseases are the common phenomena in our projected riverbed island and
    coastal belt areas and in urban areas. The situation of the working areas of SS is more precariou and also know as recognized disaster prone areas of the country. The organized people have migrated from other areas due to river erosion. Tidal bore, seasonal flood, natural disasters, tornado, river sanitation facilities, people of this area are lived below poverty level. Poor and vulnerable target groups are participating and involving themselves with their own development programs. But SS has limitation to provide support amongst the expanding dimensional program. So, SS seeking external cooperation/ assistance to meet & under taken the programs for the wellbeing of the poor people island and coastal belt under Noakhali Sadar Upazilla (sub-district) of Noakhali district and urban areas in Dhaka capital city.

    In view of the above, it will be very helpful to SS , if your reputed organization come forward and extend kind helping hands and cooperation for the welfare of the river eroded poor community people of our both the working areas and provide information/ guideline(if any) & suggestions for submitting formal application or so on for support.

    Tanking you and looking forward to hearing from you at your earliest convenient time.

    With kindest regards to you and all at your noble organization.

    Sincerely yours,
    Abu Masud
    Executive Director
    Sebika Sangstha (SS)

    (Regd No.78/97)
    Registered Under Act XXI of 1860

    Greetings from India.

    I had the privilege to introduce myself as a social worker and reformer. I am the President of an N.G.O organisation called “SANGHAMITRA VOLUNTARY ORGANISATION”. “SANGHAMITRA” means friend for the social and down trodders. It was started in 1997. Mr.Baji Baba, an young and social minded person, who devote his time completely for the Dalits and children and women in distress. Since ten years we did our best to the street children, bonded labour, women and old aged persons.

    This society also rushes to the people where the Natural Calamities happens like floods, fire, earth quakes and Tsunami.

    This organisation has a vast experience to tackle with the needs of Tsunami Victims. We took a speedy action of distribute them Cloths, Rice and other needful items.

    The other aspects of this organization are to extend helping hand to the needy and helpless women.

    Especially this society is helping widow and old women. We conduct free food campaign every Sunday and love feast on X-Mas and New Year days. There is a day care centre run by this society. 25 distilates are over beneficiaries in this day care centre.

    Medical Mobile Van:- We arrange medical camps in rural villages, to the sick and HIV patients. We distribute Vitamin and nutrients to the children and sick –old people in the remote villages. Also we concentrate our work in the slum areas in the towns and cities. The cities are more polluted now a day. Socially polluted and environmentally polluted very recently. This society took steps to eradicate immoral activities in the society, in towns. We appoint moral teachers and social workers and health visitors to empower these categories of people.

    Literacy Camps:- This organization is conducting right schools to adults. So our program for literacy is very successfully during the past years. Such people can read the wall posters, traffic indications, names on the buses, trains, etc., Therefore we had right school teachers dedicated completely for the cause illiterates. We need helping hands from the kind hearted.

    The Final Appeal:- Sir, in what way you can help us, for the sick street children, aged women, medical camps, fight for hungry.

    We took forward for a line in response. Any funding for the above said activities will be properly used and the funding agencies will be highly applauded. We also need your valuable advice in future.

    A line in replay will be appreciated.

    Yours Sincerely,

    1/1 BRODIPET,
    D.No. 5 – 1 – 4,
    SOUTH INDIA – 522 002.

    PHONE No. (91+) 0863 – 2255571 (OFFICE)

    FAX:- (91+) 0863 – 2223935


  16. Hello there,

    I am telling you ablout myself in brief.

    I & my father started a School at our village home in 1997. Now took it into SSC lavel. The School consists of 1000 (appx.) students where almost 60% female. We have already spent 7 million + from our own pocket in various purpose for the school. Hope you know the condition of Bangladeshi administration. At present we are running out of money. The school rooms are in very bad shape. Furniture are broken. In some places side partitions are broken in some places broken down. Children are studing in very risky and bad condition. We seek help from the Government & the local MP. But did not get any help due to their corroption.

    Under this circumstances I will request you to kindly extend your helping hend to save a bright and beatiful school and help us donating us for building brighter future. Sir, this is my humble request, please extend your helping hand and ask your friend to help me financially for the School. If required the physical varification can be made you or your nominated people any time any you need.

    Wating with great interest to receive a hopeful email from your end.

    my email:


    Monzurul Haq Shoaib

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