Wednesday, January 26, 2005

Zero Sum Charity

Zero-Sum Charity
Does tsunami relief dry up other giving?
By Daniel Gross
Posted Thursday, Jan. 20, 2005, at 1:56 PM PT

President Bush in early January proclaimed: "The greatest source of America's generosity is not our government; it's the good heart of the American people." He's right. So far, according to the Chronicle of Philanthropy, private relief charities have raised more than $480 million for tsunami recovery efforts, far more than the $350 million committed by the government.

These impressive figures have been accompanied by a huge and unseemly amount of self-congratulation. It's especially unseemly in the case of the government contributions because the federal money is most likely coming out of existing aid budgets—any new money for reconstruction in Sri Lanka and Indonesia will likely mean less money for sub-Saharan Africa. Can the same be said about private donations? Will the private tsunami relief dry up other charitable giving?


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