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Anti-tranzi rant, tsunami variation

I confess that I didn’t give any money to the tsunami relief effort, mostly because it became apparent to me within a few days that there was far more aid on its way to the area than could possibly be put to good use. I prefer that my donations go where they can make a difference.

Mark Steyn confirms that I was right not to waste my money (or rather, to give my money to the tranzis to waste).

Five hundred containers, representing one-quarter of all aid sent to Sri Lanka since the tsunami hit on Dec. 26, are still sitting on the dock in Colombo, unclaimed or unprocessed.

At the Indonesian port of Medan, 1,500 containers of aid are still sitting on the dock.

Four months ago, did you chip in to the tsunami relief effort? Did your company? A Scottish subsidiary of the Body Shop donated a 40-foot container of “Lemon Squidgit” and other premium soap, which arrived at Medan in January and has languished there ever since because of “incomplete paperwork,” according to Indonesian customs officials.

It was apparent to me that the US and Aussie military were doing everything possible to ensure that casualties would be minimized during the immediate crisis. Since long-term relief was being farmed out to the UN, and no fundamental reforms of either the UN or the countries receiving it were contemplated, well, the outcome and effectiveness of the long-term relief program was pretty predictable. The UN was being put in charge, so I sent my charity dollars elsewhere.

When rent-a-quote senators claim to be pro-U.N. or multilateralist, the tsunami operation is what they have in mind — that when something bad happens the United States should commit to working through the approved transnational bureaucracies and throw even more “resources” at them, even though nothing will happen (Sri Lanka), millions will be stolen (Oil for Food), children will get raped (U.N. peacekeeping operations) and hundreds of thousands will die (Sudan).

18 comments to Anti-tranzi rant, tsunami variation

  • Verity

    R C Dean – Mois non plus. For all the reasons you mentioned. There are already vast slush funds for these kinds of circumstances. Anything you send will not be put to good use. The Americans, Aussies and Singaporeans were on the spot almost immediately with doctors, medications, food and fresh water – the most pressing needs. Clothes would be found for the survivors locally. They didn’t need bundles from Baltimore.

    A friend sent me a link to his local office of UNICEF in the US. I wrote back and said “Don’t send me any more UN addresses. I’m not interested.” Meanwhile, I think he sent his entire address book to this UNICEF office because I began getting massive files of photos, which tied up my email for 20 minutes while they downloaded, along with infuriating begging letters. Like UNICEF isn’t already extremely lavishly funded? So well-funded it has an office (posh address) and staff in a big city, leading me to believe it has offices and staff in all major US cities.

    I emailed back and said, ‘You got my name by mistake. get me off your mailing list STAT.’ He wrote back a couple of letters which I zapped back with smoke coming out of the top of my head. “Get me off your mailing list or I’m getting you for harrassment!” The reply was too precious for words: “I am not personally able to take your name off our mailing list as I am not computer literate. However, my assistant knows how to work computers and she will be in tomorrow. I will instruct her to do this.” How too, toooooooooo important! Except, uh, who was sending out these giant files of photos, given that it was the weekend?

    Anyway, lucky I wasn’t actually in his city (or country) because the next comment would have had me at his office door with a gun. Apparently, he assumed I was “giving” through some other charity – it being unthinkable that someone be rather indifferent to the whole affair – and he took it upon himself on behalf of the world, to thank me for my donation, whichever charity it was going through.

    I also didn’t like the air of self-righteous competition that sprang up immediately between donor countries. On a personal level, I shrink from Kumbayah moments. I wasn’t particularly moved by this event, and, like RC Dean, I could see it was massively oversubscribed and I prefer to put my donations where they are needed, will be well-deployed, and will make a difference.

    There was a most unattractive air of bandwagonship about the tsunami disaster relief funding.

  • Euan Gray

    It’s rather more likely that the delays in getting containers out of port are due to simple corruption and incompetence on the part of the locals – factors not exactly unknown in the region. If you were sending parts for your factory in normal times, they would still be delayed for these reasons – my company has factories in Indonesia, so I know this does happen rather a lot.


  • Jacob

    “If you were sending parts for your factory in normal times, they would still be delayed for these reasons…”

    You guys don’t understand the developing nations.

    The containers are delayed because you’r company didn’t hire the right local manipulator, who knows whom you have to bribe (by a reasonable sum) to get the containers moving. So it’s your company who is guilty of incompetence, not the poor developing country. I did business in developing countries and never had this kind of administrative problems.

    Same for the UN relief containers – the UN operators didn’t know whom to hire and whom to bribe to move the containers. And, probably, they didn’t care.

    I suspect that what Mark Steyn doesn’t know is the number of containers that got “lost”.

  • As if corruption was a natural obstacle as an ocean or a mountain ridge. Jeez…

  • John East

    I rarely give to charities as I am aware that the directors of most of the high profile organisations are usually on six figure salaries and in many cases 80%+ of donations are siphoned off as “expenses”.
    However, the tsunami was such an unexpected one off that I felt compelled to donate money. With hindsight I now believe my generosity was pointless, and I now find it very hard to envisage any future situation when I would donate anything to these crooks. This is quite sad really as like most people I would like to help those less fortunate than myself, but when one realises how little money makes it past the money grabbing middle men, and corrupt third world distribution networks, then it’s all a waste of time.

  • Euan Gray

    You guys don’t understand the developing nations

    Yes, we do. Most of our plants are in developing nations. I know perfectly well about engaging local facilitators, bribing officials, paying fees invented 10 minutes earlier, and so on. I’ve done it often enough myself.

    In this case, it probably is true that the agencies didn’t pay enough in bribes and inducements. But even when you do do this, things are still slow and ineffective compared to the west. It IS the fault of the developing nations, because corruption is a Bad Thing and needs to be removed. We have to tolerate it because we don’t run those countries any more, but that doesn’t justify it.


  • TomD

    Actually, I thought it obvious at the time that the worldwide mania for giving would overwhelm capability to the point of making any individual contributions symbolic at best.

    Charity, like government, functions best when the parties are close.

  • Jacob

    “…because corruption is a Bad Thing …”

    Well, yes, I guess so….
    But sometimes when you get snarled in some Kafkaesque administrative nightmare (in the West) you wish there were ways to oil things up a little… you wish you were in a developing country ….

  • Verity

    TomD – Yes.

    Also, I thought this worldwide hysteria for giving was a bit weird. And the memorial services were beyond repulsive.

  • Stehpinkeln

    ‘Anymore’ was good EG. Thanks for shoving that burden off on your cousins. Only we don’t want it. Do you suppose we could give it to the French? They are stooopid enough to want it, do you think we could sell it to them? Only they are broke. Absolute proof of the immortal principal of “Never give a sucker an even break”.

    “I’m so relieved to see my wife hasn’t found me out yet; there she goes down Broad Street with my mistress.” “Isn’t that a coincidence,” said the friend. “I was just going to say exactly the same thing.”
    -Nathaniel Burt; “The Perennial Philadelphians”

  • Euan Gray

    ‘Anymore’ was good EG. Thanks for shoving that burden off on your cousins

    My cousins are the ones who are corrupt (sometimes on a awesome scale). My cousins taught themselves this charming habit. My cousins, therefore, deserve the blame.

    Only we don’t want it

    Tough. I am a fairly easy-going person, but the one thing I absolutely loathe and despise above all others is corruption. The developing world was not taught to be corrupt or shiftless. It is an entirely self-taught thing. It is not the fault of the former colonial powers (although one can make an exception for places like the Belgian Congo, which was very much an aberration), and it is not the responsibility of the former colonial powers to deal with it. It is entirely and utterly the responsibility and fault of the developing nations which suffer from the problem they have brought upon themselves.


  • Gosh, I’m with Euan on this one. Both the UN and the kleptocracies (whether first, second, or third world) need to muck out their own stalls first when it comes to official corruption.

    Abusing power to gain privilege and wealth certainly predates colonialism, so I doubt that the colonial administrations can be blamed for any of this. Regardless, the locals have had their independence for at least a generation now; more than enough time to clean out any corruption foisted on their lily-pure societies by the evil Westerners, no?

  • Verity

    Uh, I’m with Euan on this one, too.

    RC – One generation? More like three or four. Most of them have had their independence for 40 or 50 years. Plenty of time to muck out their stables, if they had the will.

    I don’t think the Sri Lankans are anywhere near as corrupt as the vile Indonesians – especially those from Java. They are truly masters of sleaze – from the top down.

  • Too bad no one in the U.S. government had the brass to say NO to this international stickup. GWB: You know who you are. Thirteen trillion one, thirteen trillion two …

  • Too bad no one in the U.S. government had the brass to just say NO to this international stickup. GWB: You know who you are. Thirteen trillion one, thirteen trillion two …

  • I'm suffering for my art

    Hrm. I wonder where Bob Dobbs is. I was hoping he’d appear, tell us we’re all silent shitheads and somehow link the tsunami to terrorism in Iraq.

  • John Rippengal

    It my not be simple corruption in this case; it may be deliberately political bearing in mind the north Sumatra Aceh problem.

    One of the things that has always puzzled me is the ready acceptance of the Javanese as the rulers of what was the Dutch East Indies. The revolution against the Dutch was only in Java. I remember it well having been on the expedition with the Royal Navy and the Dutch army to take back Bali from the Japanese in March 1946. Afterwards we holed up in Surabaya where British troops held the town perimeter against the Javanese rebels of Soekarno until the Dutch could take over. Surabaya and Batavia (Jakarta) were pretty well the only ‘go’ places, the rest being in Soekarno’s hands.

    Then the world calmly accepted the Javanese as overlords over the whole of the old East Indies. Never mind that language, culture and in many cases religion was different. Most glaring of all was West Papua (Irian Jaya to the Javanese) where the locals were totally alien and of course East Timor. There was a little tremor about that but it was soon suppressed.

    One could not help thinking that in the UN the attitude was Brown Empire Good, White Empire Bad. The truth was quite the reverse of course and the Javanese rulers were corrupt brutal and incompetent; quite different from the Dutch.

    Letting people die for lack of aid might well be a deliberate play by the Javanese government.
    They have done worse than that in Timor.

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