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A new appeal

February 17th, 2005

The fundraising appeal for tsunami relief was a big success, and it seems to me that the exercise is worth trying again. As a community, we seemed to be happier when we were focusing at least some of our thoughts on helping others than in our usual isolated consumer mode, and I can’t see why we shouldn’t consistently maintain something like the effort level devoted to the tsunami appeal. Giving away 2 per cent of our income (say, an hour’s pay each work for a full-time worker) to international relief efforts would make a huge difference. Australia alone could finance a pretty large slab of the various ambitious projects for global health that have been put forward. If all the whole developed countries contributed at this level, much of the misery that afflicts the world could be prevented.

So, I’m going to be giving away $1 per comment, once again, up to a limit of $1000 (last time there were about 500 comments). I’m also hoping for cosponsors, who could agree to put in 5,10, 20 or 50 cents up to whatever limit seems appropriate. I plan to donate the proceeds to Medecins Sans Frontieres, and express a preference for projects related to the The Global Fund to fight against AIDS, tuberculosis and malaria . These diseases kill over 6 million people each year, and the numbers are growing. Of course, cosponsors are welcome to nominate their own preferred charity.

I’m going to give a bit more notice this time, especially in the hope of attracting some new cosponsors. I’ll put up the post calling for comments sometime on Friday, and keep it open until Sunday evening.

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  1. February 16th, 2005 at 16:21 | #1

    I will consider it. But you have to say something nice about George Bush’s historic promotion of democracy in Western Asia. And the beard…something must be done.

  2. February 16th, 2005 at 16:45 | #2

    john at one stage a while back Medecins Sans Frontieres asked for no more donations, because they couldn’t use it effectively. But perhaps that was only if specified for the tsunami projects.

  3. John Quiggin
    February 16th, 2005 at 16:45 | #3

    Nice words about Bush will be for another appeal. As for the beard, it’s not exactly priceless, but none of the offers so far have been within an order of magnitude of my WTA

  4. John Quiggin
    February 16th, 2005 at 16:47 | #4

    FX, it was only for the tsunami, and I was impressed by their willingness to forgo money rather than misallocate it, which is one reason I’ve picked them.

  5. February 17th, 2005 at 08:20 | #5

    Keep it up JQ. Good stuff.

  6. February 17th, 2005 at 09:04 | #6

    Yesterday I was informed (by someone trustworthy) that Community Aid Abroad / Oxfam badly needs donations NOT directed to tsunami funds. Apparently there is now a severe shortfall in other areas. So I’m going to switch to donation to funds not hypothecated to tsunami relief.

  7. February 17th, 2005 at 15:29 | #7

    Dear God, JS, you want us to commend the promotion of democracy in Western Asia?

    When I saw it I delt all the horrible inevitability of deja vu. It’s “democratic” in the sense of the Athenian hegemony over the Delian League or the Macedonian and later Roman indirect rule over the Greek city states. They all meant well, sincerely tried to push the systems they esteemed (while allowing practical variations for themselves, of course), and they all broke the fragile organic growth from within.

    That left them with nothing but middlemen on side with them in the end, and a sincere anger with anyone who ever wanted to do things differently.

  8. February 17th, 2005 at 20:03 | #8

    John, I like the 2% metric. Peter Singer, the Aussie philosopher at Princeton, puts it nicely in his book “One World”: “there is something to be said for seeing a 1 percent donation of annual income to overcome world poverty as the minimum that one must do to lead a morally decent life”.

    Incidentally, when researching American giving some time ago, I was astounded to discover that 1 in 30 Americans say that they tithe – though I suspect most give to domestic charities.

    Lastly, as to the beard, I think you’re underestimating the windfall that a Quiggin shave-a-thon could reap.

  9. February 17th, 2005 at 20:16 | #9

    Helen, your comment is very true. There is a lot of worthwhile work to be done in other places, like Darfur, Cambodia, East Timor,and that’s just reading through the Caritas newsletter.

  10. February 18th, 2005 at 00:48 | #10

    I think a lot of that tithing might be church.

    I am fond of that beard. I like them on principle, though it is a lot bigger than mine. The comparison is clear proof that neither beards nor karate muscles come at the expense of brain power.

  11. February 18th, 2005 at 00:55 | #11

    The measure you use of an hour a day makes sense. Like others I have heard of difficulties with handling the funds but have no firm evidence. Have also been told by an experienced friend in the aid field to expect there to be significant funding problems for non-tsunami issues. I decided ages ago not to tie donations (a small monthly payment to Community Aid Abroad) to specific issues over concern it leads to competition between “causes” and less well known issues miss out.

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