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I had a disturbing conversation with several friends this weekend over breakfast.  Basically, they said they didn’t think Canadians ought to donate to the rescue efforts for Hurricane Katrina.

They’re mostly Canadian, one’s British.  I’m a dual citizen.  Here’s some of their reasoning, and my responses.

(Update: See this post for followup. I also fixed some typos here.)

U.S. citizens are the wealthiest in the world. They don’t need our money.

Well, first of all, money donated now will go to alleviate the suffering of the poor, the homeless, the injured, and the hungry.  Regardless of how well off these people were before the hurricane (hint: they weren’t)—they need help now.

The U.S. government is better able to take care of its own. We should donate our money elsewhere, where it makes a bigger difference.

The U.S. may be wealthy, but much of the recovery money comes from non-profit agencies like the Red Cross.  They are spending money on the U.S. now, and your money will make a difference.  If donating to the Red Cross wasn’t wrong before the hurricane, why is it not a good idea now?

If you don’t want to donate to the American Red Cross, donate to the Canadian Red Cross, which is sending, among other things, 100 volunteers to help.  Donating to them won’t help the rich rebuild condos, it will help those who help others help more.

There’s going to be enough $$$ sent—mine won’t make much difference.

First of all, there’s a logical problem with this—if everyone thought like you do, no one would donate, and there wouldn’t be enough sent.  Secondly, who are you, Einstein, to know how much money is needed.  If you wait to find out in six months exactly how much money the disaster cost and how much more was needed, it’ll be too late, people will have died and suffered needlessly.

Give now to be certain the money is there, and then in six months, you can check and see if you were right.  Besides, the Red Cross has said in past disasters when its coffers were full and no more aid was necessary—they haven’t said that yet, that’s for sure.

If you just give to Canadian charities, you’re overlooking the economic ripple effect that an American recession will cause.

I already give to worthy causes.

The amount of suffering in the world is not constant—sometimes there are more crises than others.  If you think a donation to Katrina would be “superfluous”—donate to something else instead, because some people will likely choose to send their donations Katrina’s way and other charities may get fewer donations meanwhile.  So a donation to another charity, in response to Hurricane Katrina, is fine, but NOT giving any money is unacceptable.

Katrina happened in the U.S., and I just give to Canadian charities.

The victims of Katrina are Americans.  I’m American, my wife is, and some of my friends, my family and my customers are American.  I’m sure some of yours are, too.  Americans are our ethnic twins, our geographic neighbours, and our economic partners.  I’m certain that Canada is in better shape today because of its proximity since our inception to the U.S.

So many other countries in the world have machine gun turrets pointed at their borders.  So many other countries have gone to war, have been attacked, have subjugated, poisoned, retaliated or sabotaged each other.  America and Canada have the longest unguarded border in the world.

Canada and the United States have disputes, sure.  But as countries, they get along better than most of my family members do. We ought to care for each other.  So honestly, I can’t think of a justifiable reason not to donate to Hurricane Katrina rescue and resettling.

Will you donate?  If not, why not?



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