Wednesday, August 31, 2005

Disaster Relief

On Monday it looked like New Orleans had dodged the maelstrom. But now it appears that the worst really has happened. The Big Easy will never be the same.

I'm planning to donate some money today. I figured American Red Cross was the obvious choice -- but now Glenn Reynolds has posted a list of charities that doesn't even include it (perhaps he considered it too obvious?). [UPDATE: As Gil points out in the comments, I just overlooked the Red Cross link.] Does anyone know any reason I should not give to the American Red Cross? Diminishing returns from insufficient staff to handle the level of donations, perhaps? I'd like for my contribution, paltry though it may be, to have its best possible effect.

I was also planning to empty my closet of all those clothes I don't wear any more and give them to the Salvation Army, but they're not accepting in-kind contributions at this time.

UPDATE: I looked into a few other organizations, but ultimately I went with the Red Cross.


Gil said...

Um... The American Red Cross is first on Glenn's list.

Maybe you didn't notice it because that link showed up as a different color because you've already visited it recently?

I donated to them. Perhaps there's a better choice out there somewhere, but I'm pretty confident that the Red Cross uses its resources as efficiently as an organization of that size can be expected to, and it's probably not worth it for me to find a better one.

Over A. Barrel said...

Didn't you make a rational case for non-voting? Please explain how it makes any sense for you to give a "paltry" sum as you call it. Better, isn't it, to take your girlfriend out and let her order a lobster. Don't tell me your donation was THAT paltry! Many people refused to evacuate when government officials told them to. Many of the stubborn ones are now buried under layers of sand and silt. Are we observing natural selection in progress? Why not watch your tax dollars work for you via FEMA? If you viewed taxes as charitable giving then maybe you'd feel better about not giving AND paying taxes. I think I've also made a subtle argument for not allowing tax deduction for charitable donations. If I haven't convinced you, and you absolutely must make a donation, I suggest it be for free swimming lessons, including the backstroke and the butterfly, for New Orleaners. Btw, what size clothes do you wear? I'm fond of old clothes.

Gil said...


Donating to charity is not like voting. It's not winner-take-all and incredibly unlikely to make any difference in outcomes. Each dollar can do some good. $100 can buy quite a few meals and supplies to help people in a desparate situation. Many people's contributions can combine to enable significant help (structures, emergency equipment, etc.)

I suspect that Glenn would agree with me that we'd like to see less demand for tax-funded governnment disaster-relief programs. These are less efficient and less moral (because of the taxation) than private solutions. I think people voluntarily helping others (if they can afford to) is a good thing, and I don't mind engaging in and encouraging that sort of activity.

Gil said...

Damn. I meant Glen, not Glenn.

sk said...

I agree with Gil, It seems that Red Cross is probably one of the most efficient organizations out there. Although old clothing may be nice, my guess is that cash donation would be best. Whenever these disasters seem to strike, I hear/read often not to send clothes anymore, but rather cash for buying food, shelter, and emergency relief for the victims.
It's really sad what has happend. I had such a good time in New Orleans last year. It's startling to see how precarious life is at the mercy of mother nature.

Mary Contrary said...

My check was already in the mail to the Red Cross BEFORE disaster struck. I got a letter from them to donate money for their Emergency Relief Drive before there was any flooding in the Louisiana bayous. You have to hand it to an organization that is collecting money in advance of some horrible catastrophe. I agree with Gil and SK that it's very efficient to donate money in advance. Why wait until something unexpected happens to give to them? The charities are on call 24/7, God bless them. The Red Cross also takes blood donations as if you needed me to tell you that.

Over A. Barrel said...

The Two Things about Paltry Donations During Times of Disaster:

1. The person who makes a paltry donation for a mega-disaster must have some excuse for both giving a paltry sum in the first place and for not giving more in the second.

2. The excuse for not giving even a paltry sum is amplified many fold for the slightest financial excuse like getting an unexpected speeding ticket, or other financial hangnail or hiccup.

Isn't it about time we had a Two Things post?

September 01, 2005 11:56 AM