May 22, 2003

READER R.H. Hardin writes regarding

READER R.H. Hardin writes regarding my regretted suggestion (scroll down) that people donate to the Red Cross in the wake of the Bali bombing:

I can't believe you ever recommended a large organization.

First, there's Hannah Arendt's observation that goodness that goes public turns into the worst sort of evil. You could gloss it that actual good takes a lot of work and actual knowledge of individual cases. The rest is feel-good make-work.

I know he's right. But from Chuck Simmons, a compelling Red Cross defence:

I've spent a career as an accountant for not-for-profit organizations in the United States. What I see is 2.7% of donations being spent on administrative expenses, not unusually high. Indeed, here in the U.S., it would be fairly outstanding. Some charities and not-for-profits operate with 60-70% overhead and get away with it. Jesse Jackson's groups, as an example.

Nor is it unusual that distributing sums of this size take time. The same criticism occurred with the World Trade Center charities. Followed by the 40 plus arrests for fraud against the charities.

They've disbursed $11 million. That's not too bad for sixteen months. I'd be upset if they'd disbursed $2.2 million and still had $11 million.

The article you cite doesn't tell me what services are normally provided by your government, nor does it tell me how many victims, in total, are eligible for aid. It just lays out some criticism by Mr. Marsh and unnamed critics.

Indeed, it is the responsibility of the Red Cross to make some determinations about the money, the veracity of the claim, and how each claim is weighted compared to the others. There may be criticisms based
on fact, but this article has none. The donors, as is usually the case, expect first of all that the money will go to those who need it, and that determination cannot be done without some effort.

I'm feeling a little better now. Incidentally, drop by Chuck's site to see what is actually happening in liberated Iraq.

Posted by Tim Blair at May 22, 2003 03:17 AM

I will not contribute any money to the Red Cross until the International Red Cross accepts the Magen David Adom [Red Star of David], Israel's society, as a full member. The Red Crescent societies have blocked that, with the help of various European Red Cross societies.

Bernadette Healy, former chairman of the US Red Cross, was forced out of her post last year for two reasons. The US Red Cross botched things after 11 September 2001, similarly to how the Australian Red Cross did after Bali. And, she was very vocal about working to get the Magen David Adom full recognition. Her own staffers and her board of directors sabotaged her efforts, in the pursuit of "international amity".

I wouldn't give to the Australian Red Cross either.

Posted by: Eric Jablow at May 24, 2003 at 02:53 AM

Oops. Bernadine Healy, not Bernadette.

Posted by: Eric Jablow at May 24, 2003 at 04:15 AM