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October 06, 2005


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Paul Allen is worth about $20 billion, so $1 million is 0.005% of his net worth. I've donated about 0.07% of my net worth (whoop de do). However, if we figure the rebuilding/recovery/aid costs at $100 billion and the net worth of the US as $20 trillion, we in fact need 0.5% of the country's net worth to fix things up after Katrina. Very rough numbers. In other words, us well-off folk are so far being stingy, not generous. I should give what I already gave 6 times over (or even more, since I'm at about the 93-rd percentile in wealth, and so won't be hurting), and Paul Allen 100 times over. Or the government can do it, and we all give via taxes.

I remember the hoopla over the private generosity of the 'Live Aid' efforts for famine relief in Ethiopia, about 20 years ago. Worldwide they raised about $50 million. The US government alone gave $500 million, and other countries' governmental contributions more than doubled THAT figure. Much less publicity and self-congratulation for the much larger government amounts, which counted for a lot more in actual help.

Now, as far as generosity goes, I do admire Bill Gates for donating so much money to the fight against malaria -- $1 billion, I think.

Whoop-de-do. microsoft made some webpages and Oprah Winfrey exploited the tragedy for some nice ratings. Who did all the actual studies and weather forecasting and told people to get the hell out? The government. Who organized the actual rescues when they finally happened? The government. Who will provide 99% of the funds to rebuild? The government. Who will organize and plan the rebuilding? The government. And on it goes.

Private businesses fail everyday and I've worked for some of them. And the reason they failed was terrible leadership at the top, not bad products, or bad organization, or poor execution by the underlings. Businesses can be just as bad and worse than government but we can't afford to have the US go out of business.

The solution is to improve government and to elect better people to lead it. Why? Because it is OUR government and OUR country and it's what I have loyalty to and am patriotic about and it is in EVERYONE'S best interest. I couldn't care less about Walmart or Microsoft.

I totally agree with the quote about welfare being destructive to the national fiber. "If you want to destroy a man," I've heard it said, "just give him everything he wants without effort on his part." Welfare creates a sense of entitlement that lasts for generations, and saps the spark life from those who are on the dole.

As for Walmart, Microsoft, and the rest, they are a highly visible example of the deep desire that many people have to give to those in need. If you look back in our nation's history, before the New Deal, most men belonged to mutual welfare associations. That way, if one of them fell on hard times, he had a safety net. He also had a sense of responsibility to his benefactors because he knew them all by name, and he wanted to be able to look them square in the eye. If only it were still that way.

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