. . . Wednesday December 29, 2004

Throwing Money at the Problem

David Shuster calls for more American dollars (our initial pledge is $35 million) to help those flattened by the Tsunami:

But, the initial American government response to this disaster feels awfully empty. For all of you sports fans, imagine if you were watching a slugger like Barry Bonds, Hank Aaron, or Babe Ruth at the beginning of a World Series. That first at bat is dramatic and highly anticipated, because after all, this is the league’s “Home run king.” And what do you see?  The slugger lays down a bunt.  Sure it’s a contribution, maybe even a sacrifice.  But it would be disappointing and strange just the same…

Besides, to put the 35 million dollars in context, consider this: To “help” the citizens of Iraq, our government is spending 5.8 BILLION dollars each MONTH.  That translates to more than 8 million dollars an hour. Or put another way, the $35 million we have pledged in disaster aid for Southeast Asia is less than the amount the U.S. military spent during the six hours it took on Sunday for the tsunami to cross the Indian Ocean.

The baseball slugger metaphor can be further simplified. Our initial offer of funds is about what a baseball MVP makes, with salary plus marketing deals, in a year or so.

President Bush explained: “These past few days have brought loss and grief to the world that is beyond comprehension.”

As the sole superpower, we need to comprehend it, and fast.

And this isn’t all altruism. A few billion bucks spread around the hardest hit areas right now could be the best marketing dollars America has spent in years.

Concentration is important!