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Archive: January 31, 2010

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helping Haiti

Sunday,  01/31/10  10:27 AM

Haiti earthquake disasterI'd like to spend a minute on a serious subject: helping Haiti.  Here's a question: should the United States use taxpayer money to assist with the disaster recovery of another country?

Before going on let me be clear*:  The disaster in Haiti caused by a huge earthquake was truly a disaster, and I have nothing but praise and admiration for individuals and private organizations helping with the recovery.

I'm personally rather skeptical that helping Haiti is an appropriate use of federal funds.  Consider that the U.S. is badly in need of those funds; the Economic Recovery Act is causing us to spend unprecedented amounts of money we do not have, piling on to a federal budget already running at a deficit.  We can barely afford to recover from our own disasters such as Katrina, Ike, and the Iowa City floods.

A related issue came up for me recently in an email exchange with an organizer of bike rides.  The organizer had scheduled a charity ride to raise money for helping Haiti - undoubtedly a good thing to do.  But in an email blast he implied that anyone who didn't participate was a bad person.  I politely replied that not everyone thought helping Haitians was more important, than, say, helping people in San Diego (where the ride was taking place).  He replied back "Is this a joke?  Are you even human?"  It wasn't a joke and while my humanity may be in question, I still don't know if helping Haiti should be a priority.

At the highest level, all of us can help those less fortunate at any time, but we draw the line somewhere.  I doubt the organizer of this charity ride sold his house to buy houses for Haitians, for example.  If those who need help are in our immediate family, we are more likely to help, and as we move outward to friends, neighbors, those who live in our city, our state, and our country we are progressively less inclined to help.  Our willingness to help is proportional to the proximity of those who need help, as measured in some karmic way.  It seems like strangers in another country would be at the bottom of the list.

As a final point, this is strongly related to the concept of borders, and citizenship, and aliens.  I have a friend who cannot understand why there should be borders, why we won't just let anyone move to the United States.  Perhaps he would help Haitians as readily as those in his immediate family, I don't know.  Or perhaps considering whether he would might bring him perspective as to why we have borders.


sunset over Malibu

Sunday,  01/31/10  11:15 AM

sunset over Dana Point

yesterday I rode Rockstore for the billionth time and timed it just right
and observed this magnificent sunset over the Malibu hills
sound track:  Morning has Broken from Cat Stevens

... praise for the evening ...


non-stop news

Sunday,  01/31/10  12:05 PM

non-stop news?

The New Yorker published a great article on Non-Stop News by Ken Auletta; "with cable, the web, and tweets, can the President - or the press - still control the story?"  And the answer is ... no.

While that is true, an interesting aspect of this is the asymmetry between the blogorati and the man on the street.  For those of us like us, we have cable, we read blogs, we receive tweets, etc. and the story is a mosaic; we can triangulate "truth" by integrating across tens or hundreds of sources.  But for the average Joe not much has changed; the President's message is still his message, delivered through the MSM, and the MSM's spin still frames the story.

I see this clearly in my discussions with my Mom.  She is intelligent, well-informed, and engaged, but gets her news primarily from the MSM, filtered by friends who get their news primarily from the MSM.  Her view of an issue is often quite different to mine.  She still thinks Al Gore is right :)


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