The Guardian (UK): Letters: Humanity wins out: “It's a wonderful testament to the human spirit to see the millions that the public are donating. It's also good to see that governments are doing their bit. But how much are corporations donating? Companies such as Shell, Microsoft, General Motors and Wal-Mart are richer than many nations and much of their profits are made by the cheap labour of the people in the affected countries.” (ShellNews.net) 1 Jan 05
Saturday January 1, 2005
Many Americans understand that the new global sport called "Bashing America" is very fashionable (UK leads aid drive, December 31). However, when it comes to humanitarian aid, the US pays far more than its fair share.
In 2004, the US contributed 40% of aid relief for the world's emergencies. According to the OECD, the US spends about 0.14% of GDP on foreign aid, but that excludes private donations. In 2000, for instance, Americans privately contributed $33bn, far more than the $10bn in government aid.
In 2003, the US contributed $24bn to emergency relief and Colin Powell expects US aid to the tsunami victims to eventually exceed $1bn. In 2004, the US gave over $826m to the UN's world food programme. The European Union gave only $100m - and the EU has a larger population and slightly larger GDP.
In the meantime, the US taxpayer bankrolls a defence system that protects people around the world. The countries hit by the tsunami have large Muslim populations; let's see how much their Muslim brothers in the Middle East contribute to their relief.
You haven't given credit to India. The Indian government has conveyed to the international community that it doesn't require assistance and has sent its ships and supplies to help Sri Lanka and the Maldives, and pledged $27m to help those countries.
The world's wave of compassion will help countries like Thailand recover from this terrible natural disaster. But such countries often suffer predatory international currency speculation which destabilises economies and creates huge unemployment. A small international tax on currency transactions would help reduce this $1 trillion-a-day trade and raise billions for development and environmental protection. The immediate priority is tackling this natural disaster, but political leaders should think the unthinkable so that man-made disasters can also be tackled.
Harry Barnes MP
Lab, NE Derbyshire
Excellent that the people should have shamed their timid government into coughing up a bit more. But will this have shaken the Blairites sufficiently to allow them to spot a rare opportunity to do something now that would look almost bold? At a stroke, they could break a shameful and dangerous political taboo by raising income tax by an hypothecated 1% or 2%, initially to fund rebuilding work. This tax would then be continued, partly as a reserve fund for similar contingencies and partly to increase our contribution to essential infrastructure improvements in the developing world.
*It's a wonderful testament to the human spirit to see the millions that the public are donating. It's also good to see that governments are doing their bit. But how much are corporations donating? Companies such as Shell, Microsoft, General Motors and Wal-Mart are richer than many nations and much of their profits are made by the cheap labour of the people in the affected countries.
All banks should ask callers if they wish to donate. Most customer contact with banks is through call centres, so the option of making a donation could be prompted during the initial recorded message.
The heart-rending scenes we have seen have come at the end of a year of terrible war and suffering around the world. It has, however, reminded us about the capacity of humans to respond with humanity towards each other. It is to be hoped that the government will follow the lead of Sweden in declaring a day of mourning as soon as possible.
THE LONDON TIMES: Half of the FTSE 100 establish relief operations: “Shell is providing free fuel to rescue operations in Thailand and fresh water supplies in parts of Sri Lanka.” (ShellNews.net) 31 Dec 04
Newswire.ca (Canada): Shell Canada pledges $100,000 for Asian tsunami relief: “The Royal Dutch/Shell Group of Companies has pledged $3 million US to tsunami disaster relief, and various local and regional fundraising projects are being established by Shell people around the world.” (ShellNews.net) Posted 1 Jan 05
newkerala.com (India): Shell chips in with funds for Tsunami relief: Two million dollars will be donated locally and distributed through the local companies in Indonesia, Sri Lanka, India, Thailand and Malaysia to Tsunami relief funds.”: “An additional one million dollar is being raised through local Shell schemes.” (ShellNews.net) 4 Jan 05
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