Up to $600:
We're up to ten matching participants now, so that means we're each in for $600 at this point. Who wants to push us to $800?
Cheburashka (mail):
Pardon me, but is there any reason to believe that a shortage of funds is having any effect on the present situation?

Is there any reason to believe that funds donated now could have any impact on the situation?
8.31.2005 4:41pm
Cheburashka (mail):
And just to clarify - all of these folks had government-mandated flood insurance, did they not?

So a donation isn't going to matter for the long term outcome, is it?
8.31.2005 4:48pm
Per Son:
Have you no heart? How is insurance going to help you now, if you need food and clothes now?
8.31.2005 4:54pm
Cheburashka (mail):
How is a donation going to help now, if you need food and clothes now?

Your donation has to travel before it turns into food and clothing. It has no possibility of having an effect any time soon.
8.31.2005 5:27pm
Samuel Ventola (mail) (www):
I don't know if I'm supposed to post this or in the original thread to be counted, so I'm posting in both (don't count me twice)...

I'm in!

Oh and btw, the charities are already there doing their all with their existing resources. They are certainly expending their funds against the hope of future donations. If we don't donate and leave them high and dry, they won't be able to do this for the next one, and will have no trust that their efforts will be funded, and then you really will have a huge humanitarian disaster.
8.31.2005 5:38pm
Stephen Aslett (mail):
Cheburashka, you're absolutely right. Since it won't have any immediate effect now, there is no point in giving at all.

We all now that shelters will magically construct themselves in a few days, potable water will drop from the sky in ergonomically designed bottles, and that the thousands of newly unemployed will be able to pluck $20 bills from the money trees scattered all over gulf south. I mean come on, we know the hundreds of medical personnel treating the almost 30,000 patients in the Baton Rouge area don't need to be compensated at all because they're robots who don't need food or shelter themselves. And there's no way that people still won't need rescuing in a day or two.

Cheburashka, I hope you're mildly retarded or a really young and immature teenager. Otherwise, I'd be angry at you. :)
8.31.2005 5:42pm
Stephen Aslett (mail):
I would donate, by the way, but my cash is all tied up in food and shelter at the moment.
8.31.2005 5:43pm
Cheburashka (mail):
Stephen, you're obviously practiced at the art of self-deception.

The point is that whether you donate or not will have absolutely no effect on whether shelters will be constructed in the next few days, or potable water will appear.

There simply is not enough time for the money to get to anyplace where it would matter.

The medical personnel in the area, by the way, are already being compensated - they have jobs.

Giving to charity is a noble impulse. But giving today to a hurrican charity is an extremely poor decision in allocating charitable dollars.

There is no reason whatsoever to believe that a shortage of funds is somehow hindering relief efforts, or that it will hinder them at any time in the future.

This is because there are already extraordinary funds available for the relief efforts, including FEMA funds (paid for with our taxes), Federal flood insurance funds (subsidized with our taxes), state disaster funds (their taxes), national guard funds (taxes again), private market insurance (for the reconstruction), and existing charitable funds.

Samuel does have a point about the ability of charities to respond to future disasters, but it has nothing to do with donating today.

Honestly, I don't have a great deal of sympathy here. These folks built their homes between a river and a lake, in a bowl that has been repeatedly flooded out over the last few hundred years. The either purchased insurance, received an implicit discount on their land and increase in compensation because of the risk, or both.

They're also going to rebuild in exactly the same place.

And frankly - I gave at the office, every 1st and 15th of the month.
8.31.2005 5:53pm

I'm curious -- if you think that giving money for hurricane relief is a bad idea, what charities do you give to? And if you're willing te tell us, approximately how much do you give?
8.31.2005 6:14pm
Per Son:
The relief effort will take months, if not years. Why will it take longer than that for my donation to get to the intended recipients?

Additionally, should we just let people die, because they live in that area? Is that your suggestion? And the children, what the hell is their problem? How dare they did not make their parents move or buy insurance, etc?

Dumbass, many medical personnel are volunteers, although I heard their equipment comes from the Tree People.

Lastly, taxes are not charity. It is not charity to comply with the law. If you have a problem with what your taxes go to, or taxes in general, that is another story.
8.31.2005 6:14pm
Kelly (mail):
At the risk of hijacking Orin's noble posts...

I understand your position, but I still think you're missing some points.

Of course relief agencies, medical workers, and National Guardsmen are not sitting at home biting their fingernails as they watch CNN thinking, "Oh, if only the American people would donate money, we'd be able to go help these people." No. They headed there immediately. But to think that charitable giving will have no effect on this disaster is wrong. First, large charities have the infrastructure in place to turn donations into aid on a VERY short timeline. Plus, as Stephen pointed out, they are using the funds that are currently in their reserves to pay for the current efforts. But those reserves, given the magnitude of the relief efforts, will shortly be depleted. They must be replenished, because then the relief agency will not be able to (a) continue to work on the Katrina relief or (b) work on other problems that will arise. Sure, the Red Cross has money already to tackle some of the work, but people have to donate to help them out.

It's like a student having $400 in their checking account and needing new brakes. Mom and Dad say - we don't have to help you out because you've got $400 in your bank account. But the student needed the $400 for other expenses as well.

As for the statement that they'll simply rebuild anyways... There are natural disasters that could affect so much of the U.S. Earthquakes (or related tidal waves)could affect most any state on the Pacific Coast. Devastating droughts, wildfires, floods, tornadoes, hurricanes, blizzards, ice storms... There are very few areas that could not be laid bare by some natural disaster. Should the entire U.S. population be concentrated in these very few areas?

Additionally, it's nice to think that all the people affected will recover from federal flood insurance or their homeowners policies. That assumes that they could afford insurance in the first place. Many, many, many of the people who have been hardest hit by this storm were living at or below the poverty line to begin with. Insurance premiums are a luxury for many. These are also people without the financial means to "vote with their feet" when it came to choosing an area of the country in which to reside based on the probability of devastating natural disasters.

Just imagine losing everything you've EVER had. Your home, car, clothes, furniture, personal items, pictures - EVERYTHING. You're stuck in a situation where you have no food, no water, no money, no bathroom, no safe place to sleep, and no idea on how to remedy the situation. I can't imagine it, honestly.

You don't have to give. I'm not trying to convince you. But I wanted to make it clear that not everyone affected had an open choice to live anywhere they wanted and heedlessly chose where they were.
8.31.2005 6:15pm
Jackal (mail):
However coldhearted the tone of Cheburashka's post is, it does bring up an interesting discussion point for the libertarian-conservatives: does government subsidization preclude private sector and private citizen charity? If the government were to tomorrow completely minimize and cease all public assistance (welfare, Medicare/Medicaid, etc.) and disaster recovery funding and comparatively reduce citizens' overall tax burden, would the private sector be able to find enough sources of generosity within itself to cover the loss in government assistance? Would corporations give as generously if they didn't receive a tax incentive for doing so?

I'm not advocating liberalism and wealth redistribution: I'm just bringing up the question. I'm sure it's been addressed elsewhere by Professor Volokh and others, as I believe he's of the libertarian persuasion.

(Just to clarify, I'm a conservative-borderline-libertarian--though I have to actively fight the liberal influence of most of my fellow students and professors, lest I find myself influenced by their worldview.)

On another note to Cheburashka: Yes, those in New Orleans and on the Gulf Coast chose to live in an area prone to this type of a natural disaster. So, perhaps they should move. Maybe a couple states north, perhaps. Wait, then they'd run into those darn Midwestern tornadoes. OK, let's go west a bit. Oh no! Volcanoes and earthquakes and tsunamis, oh my! Let's try the other coast--that doesn't work either: blizzards and even (rarely) hurricanes there. It goes on.

There really isn't any place that's not affected by some sort of natural disaster. Yes, it seems like the southern U.S. is hit by things causing massive damage often than other places, but one is never completely safe.

One more question for Cheburashka: what evidence do you have to support the fact that donations to charities can't help now? What if the damage is so costly that funds more or less run out? (Not being an expert on the bank accounts of nonprofit organizations, I don't know if this is in danger of happening.) Is there something other than USPS mail delays physically preventing my dollar from going to help buy a bottle of water for a thirsty rescue worker?

One more point--I'm with Stephen: I'd donate, but all of my funds are tied up with food, shelter, tuition, textbooks, etc. Ah, the life of a poor college student...
8.31.2005 6:34pm
Jackal (mail):
Er, I started writing the reply well before Kelly and Per Son posted theirs (and got interrupted momentarily). Now I see why many comments seem to ignore the thoughts posted in the ones before theirs! This is truly an active forum...
8.31.2005 6:37pm
steve sturm (mail) (www):

It's not right to challenge Cheburashka to prove him/herself by naming charities that he gives to. It is like challenging anti-Iraq war types to name wars they would fight. One ought to be able to oppose a particular course of action without having to prove one's manhood or compassion, or, for those who oppose government spending on one thing or another, without having to show they've paid six figures in taxes.

In the same vein, one ought to be able to advocate a course of action, such as going to war or contributing to a cause, without having to prove themselves by producing cancelled checks.
8.31.2005 6:42pm
Danimal (mail):

And just to clarify - all of these folks had government-mandated flood insurance, did they not?

Fewer than 50% of New Orleans homeowners have flood insurance.
8.31.2005 7:31pm
Stephen Aslett (mail):

So as not to turn this into a all-out flamewar, this will be my last post.

I think you're the one deceiving yourself. All the government aid and private donations are probably not going to be enough to fully compensate everyone. We're looking on billions of dollars in property damage alone, not counting lost wages and the longer term damage to the local and national economy. You're way overestimating the amount of aid that's going to be available.

True, there's no lack of funds that is hindering aid right now. But taking care of the newly homeless and displaced will take many months. Florida didn't recover from Hurricane Andrew for years after. What is needed is a steady buildup of reserve money for future expenses. Let's not forget that it's going to be far easier to raise money now, when the scenes are horrific, than in the future when things start to look a little better.

Cheburaska, your lack of sympathy argument makes sense only for the adult, largely white, upper-middle class folks who have the ability to live elsewhere. New Orleans is a poor city. Many people live in subsidized housing. Others live in tiny apartments and can't afford cars. Some have jobs that are tied to the local economy and not easily portable (e.g. shrimp fishermen). Many minimum-wage earners are forced to share apartments with two or three other roommates just to make ends meet. Honestly, how can you expect an 18 year old working for $5.15 an hour, with no car, sharing a room with two friends to make the rent, to uproot to an alien city based on the chance of a major hurricane? Remember, poorer people are less likely to have contacts in distant cities.

And then there are the young and infirm who have no choice of where to live. Premature babies and people who need dialysis have died because hospital generators have lost power. Tourists need to be rescued because they happened to have the bad luck of vacationing right before a major hurricane. Healthy people have had to stay behind in hospitals because they don't want to abandon their sick relatives. Hundreds or thousands of pets had to be abandoned because their owners couldn't take them to animal shelters. Do you not feel sympathy for any of these groups?

I guess if you feel no sympathy now, you absolutely feel no sympathy for tsunami victims (India is prone to equally devastating monsoons), suicide bomber victims in Iraq (hey, if you live there, you're assuming a high risk of getting blown up), or any victim of crime for that matter (hey, you knew roughly how many people got murdered in your city, yet you chose to live there anyway). Is that true?
8.31.2005 7:54pm
Cheburashka (mail):

And just to clarify - all of these folks had government-mandated flood insurance, did they not?

Fewer than 50% of New Orleans homeowners have flood insurance.

Then there isn't a reason for any of us to have the slightest sympathy for them.

We've seen this movie before, people. When was it, '94? '96? when the last major flooding hit the states. Anyone who claims they didn't know that if you build your house next to a dammed river you need to buy flood insurance is lying. Period.

Now, as for the point that this relief effort will be going on for months - True. But by then the insurance will be paying out, for those who bought it. (Including business interruption insurance.)

As for those who chose not to - they'll be wiped out (net of FEMA recoveries) as properly they should. THEY BUILT THEIR HOMES BELOW SEA LEVEL BETWEEN A RIVER AND A LAKE AND DIDN'T BOTHER TO PURCHASE SUBSIDIZED FLOOD INSURANCE. I wonder how many of them, considering the possibility of flood insurance, consciously thought "Eh, the government 'll take care of it anyway."

This is like someone who didn't pay their taxes complaining when they can't get on welfare. The pain may be real, but the sympathy is grossly misplaced.

In response to Orin: I donate a few hundred dollars a year, mostly to animal hospitals and various Israel organizations. I also pay an effective tax rate in Manhattan of close to 45%, much of which (especially the state and local taxes) is pure wealth redistribution. Which is an odd way to put it, since I have a negative net worth in the six figures.

As an indentured servant, I really shouldn't be making charitable contributions at all.

In response to Jackal: Because what there's a shortage of now is boats, helicopters, and personnel, not of dollars. And because neither FEMA nor the State of Louisiana nor the insurers are going to run out of money.
8.31.2005 8:13pm