Wall Street Opinion Journal Saturday, December 24, 2005
Americans are “stingy.” This was the accusation hurled at the U.S. almost exactly one year ago today by Jan England, United Nations Undersecretary for Humanitarian Affairs, immediately after the Asian tsunami disaster.
Even by U.N. standards, it was a particularly absurd anti-American slur–although it no doubt expresses the view of many foreign elites, who have come to believe that government is the only true source of goodness and charity. In the weeks and months that followed the tsunami, American citizens dug deep into their wallets, donating some $1.78 billion to the relief effort in Asia–dwarfing the contributions of other developed nations. Since October Americans have also contributed $78 million to assist the casualties of the Pakistan earthquake.
And lest there be any doubt that the Good Samaritan ethic is alive and well in America, consider the latest totals of charitable giving to help the New Orleans victims of Hurricane Katrina. The Center for Philanthropy at Indiana University announced last week that the total value of private donations in response to Hurricanes Katrina and Rita has reached $3.12 billion, thus “setting what is believed to be a record for a single disaster and recovery effort.” This tsunami of aid dollars was donated in just three and a half months.