Asian quake wobbled the planet.

By now you’ve all heard about the major quake that took place off the coast of Sumatra island this past Sunday and the resulting tsunamis that have so far claimed around 23,675 people in eight different countries and you’ve heard all about how it was the fourth biggest quake ever recorded since they started tracking them. It’s a stunning event to be sure, but it’s even more stunning to read that it was so powerful that it caused the Earth to wobble a bit and permanently changed the landscape in Asia:

“That earthquake has changed the map,” US Geological Survey expert Ken Hudnut told AFP.

“Based on seismic modeling, some of the smaller islands off the southwest coast of Sumatra may have moved to the southwest by about 20 meters. That is a lot of slip.”

The northwestern tip of the Indonesian territory of Sumatra may also have shifted to the southwest by around 36 meters (120 feet), Hudnut said.

In addition, the energy released as the two sides of the undersea fault slipped against each other made the Earth wobble on its axis, Hudnut said.

“We can detect very slight motions of the Earth and I would expect that the Earth wobbled in its orbit when the earthquake occurred due the massive amount of energy exerted and the sudden shift in mass,” Hudnut said.

What’s even more frightening is to see some of the tsunamis in action like in this footage from the beaches of Thailand. For those of you who want to help out here’s a link to the American Red Cross which is collection donations specifically for relief efforts for victims of the tsunamis.

43 thoughts on “Asian quake wobbled the planet.

  1. I’m curious about where you get the 24000 people number.  I think just about everyone has been saying 40000-80000 for the last day or so.  Although that number is irrelevant since any number is terrible.  I’d like to hope that we’re all dropping money into the Red Cross right now to help people who had little and now have nothing.

  2. Where are all the wealthy American citizens in all of this? The NYT indicated that at this time only 250 million had been pledged ALTOGHETHER so far by all countries in the world. That is a pitiful and disturbing number—to give you some perspective its what ONE F/A 22 fighter jet costs. Where the fuck are the multibillionaires like Bill Gates and the Walton clan—-these capitalist toads wipe thier collective asses with 250 million dollars. Oh, I forgot you have to have a soul and compassion in order to do such things—in the case of the Walton clan they only exploit poor Asians they don’t help them.
    Maybe they can finance a cheap products factory in some of the regions struck and the poor homeless people there could work 18 hours a days for a bowl of rice and a sheet of plastic to sleep under—you know a fair Wal-Mart style quid pro quo.
      As far as the earthquake changing the wobble of the Earth. I’ll beleive it only when I know in what direction the change occured. If it was to the right that’s good and beleiveable God is punishing the unbeleiveing heathens in that part of the world. If however it was to the left—-this means that the democrats inspired god to cause the earthquake because they in their heathenistic attitudes have angered God and this is the result. In either case praise Jesus his will be done.

  3. Good rant, Rufus, but just so you know, Bill Gates has already given something like $40b for world health causes – especially the eradication of malaria but others as well.  And his donations come with rather intelligently designed performance requirements so they don’t end up in the pocket of some tyrant. 

    I just hate him for his crappy software, but I can’t hate him for his greed.  He’s a top philanthropist.

    Wouldn’t be surprised to see him kick in on this as well.  But even if he didn’t, he’s paid his dues in world health and in education too.

  4. Mitch, I took the number I listed from the article I linked to. This week in December is the only real vacation I get every year so when it comes I tend to avoid doing the stuff I normally do every day such as reading or watching the news so I didn’t hear about the tsunami until my Mom mentioned to me. When the TV’s been on it’s either been something I had recorded on the PVR, a DVD I got for Christmas, or a video game I wanted to play. So, needless to say, I’m a little behind on what’s going on in the world.

    I’m with DOF about Bill Gates, though. As much as I begrudge his software’s popularity I can’t fault him in his generosity. He is easily one of the more charitable-minded rich guys out there and the amount of time and effort he puts into it makes it clear that this is more than just a tax shelter for him, though I’m sure it doesn’t hurt in that regard either. He doesn’t milk it for PR either so it’s possible he’s already donated or in the process of donating money toward the relief effort.

  5. I concur with DoF. I am no lover of Bill, but he uses his money and charities wisely.

    What I find troubling is that we are supposedly trying to win the hearts and minds of the Muslim world… and when a disaster of this size hits the largest Muslim country (Indonesia) our President doesn’t bother to interupt his vacation to speak about it.

    All he had to say was something like:

    “While no money amount could ever begin to fully rebuild the lives of those effected by the current tragedies, the People of the United States stand with those in need, and our hearts are with them. We do not know what it will cost to rebuild this part of the world, but we will help in every way that our Country can. Money is no object when it comes to aliviating suffering”

    See, he wins hearts and minds of a large muslim population, looks Presidential, and actually accomplishes something. One simple statement would have gone A LONG WAY …

    but then we have a chimp who’s vacations are more important than world events for a president 🙁

  6. I just hate him for his crappy software, but I can’t hate him for his greed.  He’s a top philanthropist.

    I agree.

    It’s tough for me to even wrap my mind around the thought of 116,000 and counting, dead as a result of this.  I doubt I will ever fully comprehend the magnitude of this disaster unless I go see it up close and personal.  Knowing what happened, how it happened, and seeing the video just isn’t the same as seeing it in person.

    Regards,

  7. Hey Les, I just realized your friend Shana (sp?) from Japan was in Bangkok when the Tsunami hit. Anyway, looks like he/she is ok (I was just looking at their website).

  8. Okay, I obviously hit a nerve with you cyber geeks by referencing Bill Gates when I was ranting about stingy American billionaires. Maybe he has been a philanthopical Mother Teresa but what the fuck else is he going to do with 50 or 60 BILLION dollars. That being said how about the other 100 odd American billionaires and the 3.9 million millionaires (Newsweek 03) in our great country. Does it ever occur to any one that if these greedy shits each donated 10000 dollars each that the amount would total almost 40 BILLION DOLLARS and indivually they would’nt even miss this chump change. It’s about scale people. Maybe this is part of the reason so many people the world over are beginning to depise us. Our hubristic greed. I don’t mean the little people of this country like us who I beleive do plenty, but the wealthy among us who would rather amass a pile or buy a Porcshe than help his fellow man or try to make this world a better place to live. I say tax these shits into obilivion so we ALL can live a better RICHER life. Nuf’ said.

  9. Rufus, I have no love for BillTheGates, but he’s the wrong target for your rant, that’s all. 

    Trust me, you could redistribute all the wealth in the world, and all you’d accomplish is making the total economy less productive for a while until everyone wised up. 

    Whose responsibility is it to make third world societies work?  It’s their responsibility.  The US has schlepped billions of dollars overseas over the years and all it’s done for the most part is enrich tyrants.  The world economy isn’t a zero-sum game where only a few rich countries can exist.  If they want a rich society they have to overthrow their corrupt dictators, focus on education and infrastructure development instead of AK-47’s and RPG’s, and change their laws and constitutions to promote personal liberty, innovation and business. 

    Just for example, The Economist magazine found you can’t even get a truckload of beer from the city to rural beer drinkers in many African nations without paying bribes to every two-bit sheriff along the way.  Now imagine building a factory or a road. No wonder their economies don’t work.  We can’t fix that: it’s up to them.

    So the inauguration will cost a bundle.  You think that money goes down a rat-hole?  It will wind up in the pockets of service-industry people who need it to pay their mortgages, send their kids to college, and drop a few bucks in the Red Cross bucket.  People like valet parkers, musicians, flower arrangers, cooks, servers, janitors… the list goes on and on. 

    I’d like to see our country really pull out the stops to help the (mostly Muslim) victims of this disaster, because it would help build a bridge to the Muslim world.  So we agree on that point.  But redistribution of wealth won’t make the world better.

  10. I realize that my thoughts are socialist, I will be labeled as a commie and this topic is getting way off…uh, topic, but what does that mean “less productive”?

    Why is it that we are so fascinated with being over productive , where is this leading? Am I the only person with the foresight to realize that living above our needs, is stressfull, unhealthy and will eventually burn us all out? What happens once we reach our peak productivity?  Are we all just here to work to make the fat cats richer?

    Seriously, the capatalist system doesn’t reward the hardest working, smartest individuals; it helps those who already own the wealth. Sure every once in a blue moon, some amazing individual rises to the top effortlessly, striking it rich. However most of these individuals, have already had some assistance, such as being born to a wealthy family, to begin with.

    The truth of the matter is, if you were born poor, you are more then likely screwed, and you better off using your brains to leach off iof the capatalist system through corruption, then you are trying to work hard and settle somewhere in the middle.

  11. Whose responsibility is it to make third world societies work?  It’s their responsibility.  The US has schlepped billions of dollars overseas over the years and all it’s done for the most part is enrich tyrants.  The world economy isn’t a zero-sum game where only a few rich countries can exist.  If they want a rich society they have to overthrow their corrupt dictators, focus on education and infrastructure development instead of AK-47’s and RPG’s, and change their laws and constitutions to promote personal liberty, innovation and business.

    Actually if you check your history, a lot of these so called tyrants were acutally USofA sponsored individuals that rose to leading their countries: ie. Noriega, Saddam, Ossama (well terrorist, not tyrant, but same idea)…

    I realize that you uphold a wonderful ideal, a country that supports freedom, equality and and a chance at being all that you can, this is an ideal that I would support, however it is fictional.

    The equality is non existant, you’re only equal if you are white, rich and Christian. Your government panders to corporations at the expense of your personal freedoms. Your average citizens vote means less then what your companies can pay. Your freedom, is a freedom that exists only as long as you are following the majority. The majority seems to be a lot well meaning citizens who are so brainwashed by the lies Fox media tells them, they are willing to believe anything. Everyone else is too scared to question what they are told to believe because they will be labeled as a traitor or a terrorist lover.

  12. You’re right, TeRRoRan, it is off-topic and I apologize to everyone for that.  By “productive” I mean the production of goods and services and the remuneration of those goods and services. 

    Why we’re so fascinated by production?  Add “progress” and stir.  If you don’t count modern life as progress, consider the tsunami warning system already in place in our Pacific coastal states.  Or just all the vaccinations you got as a kid.

    Actually if you check your history, a lot of these so called tyrants were acutally USofA sponsored individuals that rose to leading their countries: ie. Noriega, Saddam, Ossama (well terrorist, not tyrant, but same idea)…

    Yep.  If this is leading to “all the world’s problems are America’s fault” there’s some truth to that. But many more nations got to poverty and corruption the honest way: they did it themselves.  And it isn’t within our power to go fix every country – they have to roll up their sleeves and kick their own bums out.

    The truth of the matter is, if you were born poor, you are more then likely screwed, and you better off using your brains to leach off iof the capatalist system through corruption, then you are trying to work hard and settle somewhere in the middle.

    This attitude is a recipe for remaining poor.  Working hard won’t make you filthy rich: for that you have to also be brilliant or lucky, preferably both.  But it will usually lift you out of poverty.  If there are strikes against you, it will be necessary to work harder.

    The one thing that will hold you back is feeling sorry for yourself because the system is fixed and there isn’t anything you can do.

    I realize that you uphold a wonderful ideal, a country that supports freedom, equality and and a chance at being all that you can, this is an ideal that I would support, however it is fictional.

    The equality is non existant, you’re only equal if you are white, rich and Christian. Your government panders to corporations at the expense of your personal freedoms.

    All true: absolutely correct.  It is a wonderful ideal.  And it is partly fictional but mostly achievable.  A lot has already been achieved but there’s a ways to go.

    I don’t equate socialism with communism, BTW.  Under socialism, private property is allowed and individuals can get rich.  Under communism, not.

    Sorry about the diversion.  Back on topic: you are right that the US contribution to tsunami relief is small in proportion to our economy.  Here is how it breaks down right now, and if you compare the amount of aid to the size of the respective economies it doesn’t look good for us.  Add the stake each country has in the outcome (winning the hearts & minds, etc. – a rather important PR battle) and it looks worse.

    • World Bank $250m
    • UK $96m
    • EU $44m
    • US: $35m
    • Canada: $33m
    • Japan: $30m
    • Australia: $27m
    • France: $20.4m
    • Denmark: $15.6m
    • Saudi Arabia: $10m

    So I would like to see us do more.

  13. DoF

    Looking at your numbers, I would love to see a further breakdown of the percentage of money that goes IN to the World Bank that originates in the US.

    While not direct contributions, AFAIR, the WB gets a good portion of it’s operating capital from the US Treasury … therefore a good bit of the 250M may be from the US indirectly.

    As for the hearts and minds… we are screwed. Giving the appearance, true or not, that the “Leader of the Free World” is more concerned with his vacation than with one of the largest humanitarian disasters on record does not win hearts and minds for us … nope … not one bit 🙁

  14. As for the hearts and minds… we are screwed

    Yep.  Happened when we handed the Chimp-In-Chief the keys to the executive washroom again.  I have a sinking feeling that the $35m figure was the first number that popped into his head. 

    This wouldn’t be a bad time to do some un-screwing, though, hearts-and-minds wise.  An opportunity, so to speak.

    You’re absolutely right about the WB contribution that comes from us.  I also noticed that France (a member of the EU) was giving non-chump-change in spite of presumably having contributed to whatever fund the EU $44m came from.

  15. I think the Canadian donation is closer to 40M$, plus some of the provinces have kicked in additional money (Ontario 5M$).

    Why we’re so fascinated by production?  Add “progress

  16. TeRRoRan – the figures I used were from BBC via Reuters and the United Nations as of a few hours ago.  Of course it’s possible the news creatures got it wrong – happens all the time.  But even if so, many other countries’ contributions were plainly much larger than the US expressed as a percentage of their GDP.

    As JH pointed out, the $35m figure does not include other channels such as the world bank.

    I did not imply that progress can only take place in a capitalist system, only that progress mixed with productivity results in a high standard of living.  Capitalism is rich soil for this combination.

    Plainly there are lessons capitalism needs to learn from socialism as some socialist countries have certain QOL aspects better than the US.  (Though the US is not a perfectly capitalistic society either.)  For example, many countries, notably some socialist ones, have lower infant mortality and higher primary education scores than the US does.

    As to the possibility of a better world, I certainly can’t argue with you there.

  17. Sorry to double-post but I just found this review of current corporate contributions.  And remember these corporations don’t exist to solve social problems or address disasters; they exist to turn a profit.  Anyway it works out to around $107m from private sources.

    I think all our corporations could open up a vein and bleed themselves dry, and it wouldn’t be enough to satisfy some people.  Hating the US is an international pasttime, when imitating the US would get them a lot further down the road.

  18. well 35m as an initial pledge from the US, plus from what I just heard on the news well in excess of over 100m from private & corporate sources in the US & still pouring in, plus whatever portion of the 250m from the Wb, yet it’s never enough is it?

    Fact is the USA is damned if they do and damned if they dont, if we gave 500Billion it would make no difference as the beef then would be Oh look at the rich Americans trying to buy the world etc.

    Fact of the matter is the USA 99x out of 100 is the first to lend a helping hand to any country in need in whatever way we can, even when the US Gov shuns certain issues, US citizens reach out.

    we will always be despised, unfortunately with such acts as allowing this this complete idiot George Dubya Christ back on the throne we have given much of the world excellent reason to now.

    For those like Rufus, bout all I can say to tards like that anymore is :FUCK YOU and the Meme infested Donkey you rode in on.

  19. Fact is the USA is damned if they do and damned if they dont, if we gave 500Billion it would make no difference as the beef then would be Oh look at the rich Americans trying to buy the world etc.

    Fact of the matter is the USA 99x out of 100 is the first to lend a helping hand to any country in need in whatever way we can, even when the US Gov shuns certain issues, US citizens reach out.

    On this we agree Nunya.

  20. I have to disagree with Nunya.  We are not “damned if we do, and damned if we don’t”.  It may seem that way but that is because we don’t when it comes to foreign aid.

    The comment made by some UN offical, about the US government being stingy, is right on.  We give the least amount of money per capita when it comes to foreign aid.

    I by no means think we should have given 500 billion but a measly 35 million?  And that is only AFTER criticism for given so little.  It was orignally 15 million I believe.

    Our foreign aid spending makes up .1 % of our GDP.  That is one-tenth of 1 percent.

  21. Rob- what you said.  We (putting my American hat on for a moment here) are cutting a pretty poor figure internationally, spending zillions on war and a pittance on charity.

    DoF said:  Hating the US is an international pasttime, when imitating the US would get them a lot further down the road.

    Yes, but down which road?  It depends on what aspects of American “progress” they choose to emulate.

    Americans can be justly proud of many things.  For instance, I live in Austria, and am continually struck by the lack of handicapped access to public buildings and even some subway stations we have here- conditions are much better in America (or at least in Berkeley, which my handicapped friends call “crip paradise”).  Not to mention the possibility of transporting a truckload of beer from point A to point B without bribing anyone.  Your criticism of the problems of many third world countries is right on here.

    On the other hand, do we really want the whole world to “progress” to the American standard of homelessness, rabid consumption of resources, environmental destruction, and couchpotatoism?  Unfortunately, this seems to be what most people do as soon as they have the wealth to make it possible.

    Progress can mean many things, but when it means ever-increasing consumption on a finite planet, the prospects don’t look rosy for our grandkids.

  22. TeRRoRan – the figures I used were from BBC via Reuters and the United Nations as of a few hours ago.  Of course it’s possible the news creatures got it wrong – happens all the time.  But even if so, many other countries’ contributions were plainly much larger than the US expressed as a percentage of their GDP.

    I got the donation figures from the CBC site. I am not sure why there is a discrepancy between the two.

    Just for the record I would like to say that I do not hate the USA, I like the USA. There are many great people inside your country and as far as neighbours, our countries have worked well together as allies and trading partners for many years.

    Of course I don’t care for how any time Canada steps out of line with what the US wants, we get slapped like a little disobedient kid. I also don’t care for your media (with a few exceptions, ie: Law and Order), your Ann Coulters, or your neo-conservative movement. And lastly I don’t care how Americans get so defensive about anything that shows their country as being less then perfect. The rest of the world knows that the USofA is the most powerful and possibly the greatest country, however I like to question preconceptions.

  23. DOF, usually I agree with you on most things, but I don’t see how you can possibly expect downtrodden, poverty-stricken people to overthrow and reform their governments when they can barely feed themselves.  Nobody’s going to be thinking about a model of government when they can’t grow food, can’t read, and are being harrassed, robbed and raped.  They need substantial help, not just the helpful invasion of their country or a political economics lecture.

  24. GM, I am truly sorry to disappoint you.  downer  Your suggestion as to how we get that help to them would be…?

    How about sanctions?  Worked great in Cuba. Remember Castro?  Great beard, charismatic. Gone these thirty years now.

    I agree they need help to throw out the bums, and the help they need is subversive, sneaky under-handed help.  Problem is, that comes from our official subversive, under-handed sneaky agencies like the CIA, who are famous for “helping” the downtrodden put even worse tyrants in place.

    How about just sending shiploads of grain?  Ends up enriching corrupt distributers in the starving country, pricing their local farmers out of business so they’re even less able to produce food, and artificially inflating demand for farmland in this country.

    Remember the “Green Revolution?”  That was high technology help, and it really helped without doing much harm – I think.

    Private US citizens are allowed to “help” by sending missionaries for some damn reason.  Help like that, they don’t need.

    Alternate media in oppressed countries (like the old “radio-free Europe”) is probably as harm-free as any help we could give them.  We should do more of that.

    To help without harming is a damnably tough puzzle to solve.

    I also don’t care for your media… your Ann Coulters… – TeRRoRan

    I hang my head in a moment of silent thankfulness that human cloning has not progressed to the point where we have more than ONE Ann Coulter.

  25. I’m interested if anybody knows how much we give en toto.  That is, calculate how much Government money is given as aid, add private corporate donations, add private individual donations, add non-profit donations, add donations of time and skill that have monetary value and then tabulate the results.  I suspect the figure for total U.S. donations, when properly tabulated, would shed new light on the subject.

    FYI—Charitable contributions by the private sector in America for 2003 totaled 241 BILLION dollars.  That is 2.2% of GDP.  The figure is not based on what individuals claim they gave, but is derived from what charitable institutions reported receiving.  This figure does not include international organizations centered outside the United States that receive contributions from U.S. citizens.  If that is figured in, the number is undoubtedly going to be higher.

    Let’s frame this properly.  Simply looking at what the U.S. government does fails to account for much of what is done by the U.S. 

    To help without harming is a damnably tough puzzle to solve.

    DOF, aptly put.

    Regards,

  26. I just wanted to make a comment about the governments of south east Asia.  It seems that quite a few people here have suggested that the poverty in the region is a result of oppressive regimes.  That’s not always the case, for example (from what I’ve read) Thailand (with the exception of the muslim minority) and Burma, though both monarchies, enjoy tremendously high public support of the governments.  Moreover, Sri Lanka is in fact a democracy.  Indonesia admittedly is a bit of a “basket-case” nation, but that’s more a result of ethnic tensions versus oppressive government, though assuredly that exists there as well.

    I think one of the major reasons that the region is so impoverished is that there is no potential for industry there.  There aren’t many natural resources.  Other than farming there’s very little that a person can do there.  I mean, they can probably do fairly well with secondary manufacturing, but look how the manufacturing industry has exploited the poor around the world.  I think some people in south east Asia would prefer to be poor than be near slaves to Mattel.

    As for the original point of this thread, I think for once the US is actually doing better than Canada.  I think Canada so far has only donated (C)$4 million to the relief effort and the government has been dragging its feet in sending over D.A.R.T. the “elite” disaster response team. 

    We have the capability to do a lot to help the people affected by the Tsunamis but so far we haven’t.  The D.A.R.T. team could have responded in a matter of hours and deployed to rescue the injured, provide medical assistance, and distribute food.  However, as far as I know, only a reconaisance team has been sent in.

  27. SS. I believe your $4M figure is based on an early report made while people were on vacation.

    Here is a quote from the Hindustani Times

    http://www.hindustantimes.com/news/181_1177516,00410011.htm

    As the government’s criticism and the death toll mounted, three ministers cut short their vacation and Ottawa scrambled to get its act together. On Wednesday, the defence minister raised Canadian assistance to the tsunami-hit nations from $4 million to $40 million and dispatched 25 tonnes of medical and food relief to Sri Lanka. Another plane with similar relief is bound for Indonesia.

    Various provincial governments also chipped in, with British Columbia donating $8 million, Ontario $5 million, Alberta $5 million, and Nova Scotia and Manitoba $100,000 each. The Canadian Red Cross also received millions in donations.

    On Thursday, Defence Minister Bill Graham, Foreign Minister Pierre Pettigrew and International Co-operation Minister Aileen Carroll faced a hostile media and announced more measures to help the victim nations.

    Last night I heard that Canada is also matching private donations. Also, we just announced that we (US) are upping our aid to $350M.

  28. DOF, I still love you, don’t worry. wink  How to help them?  That’s a very hard question to answer, and I don’t think anyone really knows all of it.  Whatever the answer is, it’s got to be complex. 

    I read a cover article in the NYT Magazine some time back about a philanthropist who is making the strong argument that it really IS all about sending money—bucketfuls of money—and applying it correctly.  Can’t remember his name now, but he was creating quite a furor in the world economic / charity organization circles. 

    Maybe a combination of peacekeepers and educators bringing money to the region, with very strict conditions on their delivery, either bypassing the strongmen or forcing them to comply with the conditions if they want ANY piece of the action.  All I know is, once people can bootstrap themselves with sustainable food, education and hope, they can take it from there in more cases.  But they can’t just pick themselves up right now and do anything, and just hammering the dictator from the top down doesn’t solve any problems.  I tend to believe that comparative wealth suppresses many of the other problems, such as corruption and violence—we just have to get them there, without trying to change their ethnic culture and belief systems.

    Whatever the answer is, it isn’t, to paraphrase Sam Kinison’s screaming, “Don’t send them food—send them suitcases so they can fucking MOVE!”

  29. I just heard we’re boosting aid from $35m to $350m.  Now that’s more like it!  It’s an open question if it could have been handled more incompetently, though.  It reinforces my belief that the $35m is simply the first number to pop into GWB’s head.

    I’m not a presidential speechwriter, but I can pretend:

    Bush voice: “I have ordered in immediate infusion of $35m to get our aid started while we evaluate the scope of the disaster.”

    There.  Was that so hard? Sounds good, leaves the door open for more without it looking like you’re reacting to criticism… (Mr. Bush, I am available.  It’s time you sent Karl Rove on vacation.)

  30. “I’m like anyone else on this planet—I’m very moved by world hunger. I see the same commercials, with those little kids, starving, and very depressed…..Matter of fact, I think I have the answer. You want to stop world hunger? Stop sending these people food. Don’t send these people another bite, folks. You want to send them something, you want to help? Send them U-Hauls. Send them U-Hauls, some luggage, send them a guy out there who says, ‘Hey, we been driving out here every day with your food, for, like, the last thirty or forty years, and we were driving out here today across the desert, and it occurred to us that there wouldn’t BE world hunger, if you people would LIVE WHERE THE FOOD IS! YOU LIVE IN A DESERT! YOU LIVE IN A FUCKING DESERT! NOTHING GROWS OUT HERE! NOTHING’S GONNA GROW OUT HERE! YOU SEE THIS? HUH? THIS IS SAND. KNOW WHAT IT’S GONNA BE A HUNDRED YEARS FROM NOW? IT’S GONNA BE SAND! YOU LIVE IN A FUCKING DESERT! GET YOUR STUFF, GET YOUR SHIT, WE’LL MAKE ONE TRIP, WE’LL TAKE YOU TO WHERE THE FOOD IS!

    —From an appearance on Rodney Dangerfield’s “It’s Not Easy Being Me,” 1984.

  31. 1) Hope you have done your part?
    I believe that in all our discussions on aid we should remember the tragedy unfolding before our eyes and go out to donate. It does not matter how much one gives for any amount of aid helps. From the child who gives $5.17 from her piggy bank to Pfizer which is giving $35million, every cent helps. So hopefully you folks took the time and effort to donate cash. Cash is the most flexible rather than goods (unless one happens to own some water bottling corporation or drug company in the region) since often sending clothes and other stuff may cost more in transport. Here is a website (http://www.charitywatch.org/) that monitors aid groups to see how match cash gets through.

    ————————————————————————————————————————————————-
    Now to correct some stuff that have been said.

    2) Wealth: Create not Redistribute
    As Jagdish Bhagwati pointed out creating wealth and growth is more helpful in lifting people out of poverty than wealth redistribution. India started out with a redistribution program but it was not until the past decade that the system changed to wealth creation leading to improvement in the lives of many.

    Globalisation and trade, working for drug companies, Wal Mart, and even the local companies has helped the poor in East Asia. In 1999 50% of the of the population in the region was living below poverty line and in 2004 the figures has fallen to abour 30%.

    If one takes a look at South Korea, Japan, Taiwan, Singapore and Hong Kong in Asia, these country managed in half a century to transform their countries (which lacked natural resources) into well developed countries.

    3) New Western “Imperialism”
    The comment that “some people in south east Asia would prefer to be poor than be near slaves to Mattel” is seen as a form of new Western imperialism where development of the country is held back under the guise of “helping the people.” As mentioned by one Indian who is working in a call centre, there is no integrity in being poor and starving. Do we look at street panhandlers as people to look up to for them choosing to be poor than to work? Of course if by some you mean a small handful or in the sense of as of today, there have been some space tourist, then that may be true but the vast majority does not subscribe to that. In development people may see the quaint little village which tourists love to visit transformed but to campaign or argue that the people should preserve their lifestyles is conceited for it is akin to telling the locals not to change so that we may enjoy our visit more. It attempts to deny these people things that we already have so that our vacation may seem more “real.”

    There have been many cases of what I would call “politcal-aid groups” that claim to champion the rights ot the people in developing nations. For example:
    A) There was a particular world bank project in China where in exchange for loans there would be certain standards in labor and the environment. The political aid groups came in and lobbied the US government andeffectively ended the world bank support. China decided to go alone without the loans and of course without any of the labor and environment standards.
    B) There was a factory or sweat shop (Adidas) in the South Asia. After much campaigning from political aid group the factory shut down. The end result is that many of the female workers ended up working in the sex industry. Children of the workers had trouble paying for school. But the campaigners who fought for the closure of these factories is not concerned that the workers as a result of their actions are now in a worse off position.
    C) There was also a poltical aid group that claims to champion the rights of the workers in the country and an investigation shows that their all encompasing union only had less than 40 members in the country itself.

    I am unsure of any country that has become developed through farming alone. The traditional theory of comparative advantage about “potential” for industry is to a certain extent not true with regards to manufacturing. Foreign investment in the countries bring in technology that gives these people the opportunity to use them. Foreign investment allows cash strap nations to develop their industries and economy without first going through the process of saving the money. And as a result often the main comparative advantage in comparison to developed nations is the lower cost of wages in these countries. But then while wages are low, cost of living is low too.

    You have to remember that natural resource industry which I would classify farming too are primary industries right at the bottom of the value chain.

    As for natural resources, in my opinion, unless the country has a good government in place at the time of discovering the resources there is a high chance that the natural resources would be a detriment to the country. At least with regards to oil, take a look at countries which discovered them at a time before they had good government, such as countries in Middle East, Nigeria etc, you would notice that in many cases the development of the country seem to have moved backwards.

    4) Innovation
    The comment that vaccines is “created out of a sense of utilitarianism” is painting a medieval age of invention with one kooky scientist locked in his or her room tinkering with science. But in the present day it cost a lot to develop medicines. Even if the scientist is working out of the goodness of their heart, there are cost in machines, testing etc. Furthermore, if you happen to be a kooky scientist working in your basement to find a cure for cancer and do not want to be paid, there is NOTHING stopping you from inventing your cure and then giving it to the world or simply not file a patent and disclose it to the world at large. The patent/capitalist system allows people who work just because of the money and people who work for the greater good to contribute.

    5) Governments of Asia
    Thailand is a democracy. They are a monarchy only in the sense the United Kingdom or Canada is a Monarchy. Myanmar is a military dictatorship not a monarchy. Furthermore, as have already been pointed out above, Asia is developing at quite a fast pace with a huge amount of people moving out of poverty. In fact, Asia is an extremely important part of the world econonmy and it has helped fueled the growth of the world economy. The downturn in US economy a few years back was buttressed by the growth in Asia. One of the reason for high oil prices is because of the growing demand in Asia. Sure there are still places with great amount of poverty but if say you visit China just 10 years ago and you visit it today you will see a great difference.

    In fact, the growth in Asia is often lead first by a capable government. Sure in many cases they did not start out as democracy as seen in China. But countries such as South Korea were runned by the military until the 1980s when they became a democracy. Democracy may not equal development but development often leads to democracy. Contrasting the governments in many Asian nations with those of Africa and Middle East and you would see in Asia there is a desire to actually help their citizens.

    6) Moving / Immigration
    To be able to move first one must be able not just to leave but to enter another country. The last I checked, in many developed nations there is a backlash against immigrants or a feeling that their country is “too full.” Of course another problem with immigration is that of brain drain. For example, the British government hires a large number of nurses from developing nations thus depriving the countries of nurses which the country had spend money to train. It is as if the developing nations are subsidising the training of nurses for developed nations. Also in the US, if I recall correctly about half the population of students in engineering or science are non Americans. If you say walk around MIT you would see that a large number of students are not Americans. The same goes for post graduate studies. And often these people stay on in the US after their studies.

    But it can be argued that often these people return back to their home countries once their home country gets it act together such as in India or China. Thus in doing so bringing back their experiences.

    In my opinion it would seem that places that accepts the most immigrants often tend to be the most dynamic. And places with great restrictions on immigrants often are not doing as well.

  32. What Pop Tarts said. Lots and lots of what Pop Tarts said.

    I especially liked this: “Democracy may not equal development but development often leads to democracy.”

    I’ve often wondered if the best way to bring down a tyrannical regime is trade and alternate media.  The more contact between the two cultures the worse it is for the tyrant.

    On another note,
    HAPPY NEW YEAR, EVERYONE!!!

  33. Bush voice: “I have ordered in immediate infusion of $35m to get our aid started while we evaluate the scope of the disaster.

  34. Shame on you for bashing Fox.  I believe it is reflection of your misogynistic attitude.  The other outlets could learn a thing or two by hiring many more reporters with the same journalistic integrity as Juliet Huddy, Kiran Chetry, and Page Hopkins. 

    Regards,

  35. Shame on you for bashing Fox.  I believe it is reflection of your misogynistic attitude.  The other outlets could learn a thing or two by hiring many more reporters with the same journalistic integrity as Juliet Huddy, Kiran Chetry, and Page Hopkins.

    … and as hot as Dari Alexander!  surprised

  36. Pop Tarts,

    As mentioned by one Indian who is working in a call centre, there is no integrity in being poor and starving.

    I was referring to something the King of Burma said.  He noted that “while Burma has a low gross national profit, it has a very high gross national happiness”.  Not every culture is about material gain.  Quite a few of the Buddhist nations of Southeast Asia reject the commercialism that the west sees as progress based on principle.  Now I will grant that no one wants to be starving, but just because a nation doesn’t have a high GDP doesn’t mean that the populace is starving.  Indeed, there is starvation in some regions of southeast Asia, notably in Sri Lanka and Bangladesh.  However, I think it is equally imperialistic to force countries to follow our model of development as it is to deny it to them.  We shouldn’t impose our ways of doing things upon other cultures.  We might mean well, but then again so did the Christian missionaries in South America.  Just because a country doesn’t choose to build factories and focus its efforts in commercial development doesn’t mean that the country is somehow “behind” us.  It might just mean that they care about something else other than financial gain and commerce.

  37. I also wanted to add that the “development” that you refer to in nations such as China is based on the exploitation of the poor, or the politically dissident.  I don’t think that such development is something that should be striven for.  It’s true that the western “developed” countries’ success was originally based upon the exploitation of workers, but just because it was done that way here, doesn’t mean we should export that model to “less developed” nations.  Perhaps, we should have learned from our mistakes and try to export a model based more on fair trading and equitable treatment of workers.

  38. More on PopTarts opening, on-target salvo

    1) Hope you have done your part?

    I was prowling around a bit ago and came across an editorial by Howard Dean over at Democracy for America. He suggested that, to have an immediate effect, cash would be the best thing to donate at his time.

    His post provides a link to InterAction.org where one can find a list of agencies cooperating in the South East Asia tsunami relief effort. This is the page with the specifics

    http://www.interaction.org/sasia/index.html

    It is a good bit more comprehensive than the one in yesterday’s Post Dispatch

  39. I hope no one us trying to force Burma to follow our model.  Any country that is stable, feeding its own people, and “ensuring domestic tranquility” without any oppressive measures should be left the hell alone – and closely studied.  There is a lot we could learn from them.

    There’s also a lot many other countries could learn from us.  Though as Zilch said, it would pay to be selective when imitating the United States as some aspects of our culture are (to put it mildly) far less admirable than others.

  40. I had a bunch of stuff i wanted to add to this thread earlier today, but my computer crashed (ATI video card problem) just as I was about to post. So frustrating.

    Anyway, [bold]DoF[/bold], I just realized that the discrepency was caused by currency (Canadian and US dollars – the exchange is around 75%). As well I also had a good laugh at Ann Coluters comment.

    [Quote]4) Innovation
    The comment that vaccines is “created out of a sense of utilitarianism

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