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What Role Should America Play In Supporting Other Countries After Disaster Strikes?: Left of Center View

America shouldn't have to be the one that other countries turn to in times of need. Our history of generosity has painted us into a corner, so to speak. It seems that whenever we do go into another country to try and help out we are seen as interfering, and yet at the same time not doing enough. Of course we all have a moral obligation to help others in their times of need, but really where does that obligation end?

These days, charity is big business. You can text "Haiti" to a certain number and a $10 donation will be added to your next phone bill. There are albums, there are telethons, heck there's even government funding and donations, all of this on top of what is provided by the United Nations - the group that was set up to render aid on a national basis to disaster stricken areas. The problem is that for every story of how donations are helping the people in a stricken area rebuild their lives, there are two about the abuses and misuses of the funds donated. Stories abound about charities that in reality are little more than tax shelters for their famous founders and how eight out of every ten dollars donated goes to "administrative costs" - which apparently is the non-profit term for executive bonuses.

Cynicism is sad. Donating, helping others should be a good thing. You should be able to give a little to those around you and not immediately feel like a sucker for having done it. The same guy really can't need just $15 to catch a bus home three weeks in a row can he? Yet Americans give. We donate money. We donate our time and resources. But unfortunately we seem to be better at raising awareness and funds than at actually helping the people in need. But then again, we are a service nation. We have sent our manufacturing overseas, so it does make sense that we are able to flood iTunes with songs, portions of the proceeds will go to benefit the stricken.

Should we as a nation stop offering help? Of course not, but we should recognize a very real need to rethink the way we do it. After the incredible lack of initial response to the victims of Hurricane Katrina the heads should have rolled on a national level. We almost lost a MAJOR METROPOLITAN CITY RIGHT HERE IN THE UNITED STATES! It took days for help to arrive and while New Orleans has made huge strides things there have still not returned to normal. These are US citizens who were devastated by a natural disaster every bit as terrible as what happened in Haiti or Thailand. What happened to all of the money and resources that was supposed to go to rebuild New Orleans?

Should America offer a helping hand to others in need? Absolutely. But we should also be better prepared to help ourselves. When the next natural disaster hits the interior of our nation we should have rescue operations underway in a matter of hours not days. We need to spend money not just on rebuilding after disaster, but on prevention beforehand. We know what the threats to our various regions are, we should be prepared for them, and on a city, state, federal and even global level. We need to reduce our reaction time and increase our efficiency.

Finally we need to crack down on disaster profiteering. Charity fraud is not a victimless crime. The perpetrators use the images of their victims in the commission of the act. Taking food from a starving child or medicine from the sick, is a heinous crime and we should start punishing it as such.


Kyle Pesonen - Staff Writer | E-mail Comments on this column. | Click icon to Digg this article

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Last Week's View from the Left:
Isolationism In A Troubled World - Could Americans Be Too Globally Minded For Our Own Good?

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What Role Should America Play In Supporting Other Countries After Disaster Strikes?: Right of Center View

America should lead. Plain and simple, itís what we do. Itís easy to just sit back and say itís not our problem but it is. The price of leadership is being a leader all the time, even when it sucks to be the leader. Without American leadership you would be hard pressed to find another country that will take charge and get things done for people when bad things happen. It costs us money and makes life harder but itís the right thing to do. We donít need to waste money on pointless research projects and bridges to nowhere but when people are in real need we need to lead the charge to help out even when that means spending money to do it.

The truth is helping out is what America is all about. When our friends in Europe needed us to come and save the day during WWII we stepped up and did the job because it was needed. When children were starving in Africa during one of the worst droughts in recorded history we joined the rest of the world in doing everything we could to bring relief to them. Time and time again we have shown that we do what it takes to help those in need when their need is the greatest. Thatís just what we do.

To the deficit hawks let me say that I am not advocating open-ended spending to heal all the worldís ills. Iím not a fool after all. We have to be smart in how we help while remembering that when things are at their darkest leadership is the light that finds the way to safety. We are the leaders of the free world and we need to act like it when trouble strikes. There are ways to help and get a return as well. Sometimes the rebuilding of a nation is an investment in future opportunity. By leading the efforts to help, we show the world that we are the good guys and that when our friends are in trouble we do whatever it takes to get them on solid ground again. It makes it harder to preach about the evils of America when we are leading efforts to help people in need.

As with everything though there is a downside. When we consistently lead relief efforts and give so generously, we leave the world with the impression that we can afford to save the whole world. Unfortunately that is not really the case anymore. Millions of American jobs have been lost due to incompetent leadership and our politicians canít seem to find a money pit that they wonít vote to throw our tax dollars into. Even once reliable conservative voices have become slaves to the special interests. You have a REPUBLICAN Senator that unabashedly held government appointments hostage over EARMARKS, yes I said REPUBLICAN fighting for EARMARKS, and we wonder how things got so messed up. The sad truth of the matter is that with Congress finding new and different ways to waste our tax money we will have a harder and harder time taking the lead in a crisis. With the world now used to looking to America for leadership in an emergency we are in a position of being forced to decide between the needs of Americans and the needs of people outside of our borders.

In the end we will lead because thatís what we do. We will pinch pennies, collect soda cans and have bake sales. Weíll do what it takes to help out people in greater need than ourselves. Thatís who we are and itís a good part of what makes America great. Adversity can turn some people into monsters and others into heroes. Americans tend to become heroes in times of need. Itís just who we are.

The Realist - Patriot at Large | E-mail Comments on this column. | Click icon to Digg this article

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Last Week's View from the Right:
Isolationism In A Troubled World - Could Americans Be Too Globally Minded For Our Own Good?

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A Legal Immigrantís Perspective

If you are not a Native American, you are an immigrant, so am I. I came legally to this country at the age of five with my parents who worked hard, paid taxes (even Jesus paid taxes), lived by the rules of this great nation and never took or accepted a penny from the government. We came seeking FREEDOM from a communist country. It was months before we were able to enter the US legally. I remember us getting medical exams, shots (small pox), background check, references, and going through numerous interviews once we arrived. I also remembered people coming to the US from all over the world who waited years since it was based on "Quotas". Read more...

Solving Our Immigration Problem

The major problem our country is facing with illegal immigrants today is because of the exploitation of these immigrants. We believe the solution to this problem is two-fold. First, we should allow more immigrants in this country to cut down on the number of illegal ones. Second, all immigrants should be educated about their rights at the expense of the government. Below, you will find an in-depth look at our suggested reforms.

Reforms for immigration limitations:

-New immigrants can't equal more than 1% of the US population in a given year (the population being from the last recorded census). That 1% will be further divided up to allow only a certain number of immigrants each month.
-Each country of origin for immigrants will be allowed a certain percentage of that 1%. No country could receive more than 10% of the total amount and no country can receive less than .1% of it. The left over percentage will be divided up between all countries as follows: Read more...

Do Elements Within the La Raza Movement Pose a Threat to America?

La Raza means literally ďThe RaceĒ in Spanish. The movement was formed in 1968 to promote the interests of the Mexican-American community. Like the NAACP and other affirmative-action minded organizations, La Raza has many members that are interested in being part of America and promoting equality for all Americans. The fundamental goals as stated by the movement are benign and represent the ideals of American diversity and cultural pride.

There is another movement affiliated with La Raza that has historically been more militant and still maintains documents within their organization that point to isolationistic views Read More

A Plan

The one major thing that seems to be lacking in the immigration debate is a real plan that addresses the legitimate concerns with illegal immigration. There are strong opinions on both sides and a lot of rhetoric but there isnít really any solid plan being promoted to address the illegal immigration issue in a way that is both fair and logical.

So, that being said here is my idea:Read More

Trucking Cross Borders

This is mainly a concern for the trucking business. If we allow these people to come into our country, bringing cargo that we in America have, and can supply, then we are saying that the American working people are not needed, and have lost all say to legally enforced DOT (Department of Transportation) laws.Read More



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