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let 'em starve
December 22, 2004 7:42 AM   Subscribe

Bush's answer to global poverty: let 'em starve. The administration has defaulted on $100 million in the last two months alone promised to charities aimed at helping improverished families become self-sufficient, so that organizations like Save the Children and Catholic Relief Services are cutting programs. Instead, increasingly scarce funds are being earmarked for emergencies only, like the one in Darfur. The result: five to seven million people have less to eat this Christmas.
posted by digaman (73 comments total)

 
Current cost of removing Saddam from his spider-hole: over $150 billion.
posted by digaman at 7:44 AM on December 22, 2004


Our foreign aid is currently taking other forms.
posted by alms at 7:44 AM on December 22, 2004


Thank god the European Union is picking up the slack.
posted by swerdloff at 7:51 AM on December 22, 2004


They all just need to get jobs and pull themselves up by their bootstrapsยก
posted by ticopelp at 8:01 AM on December 22, 2004


Save the Children just pulled out of Darfur after 4 of their staff were killed. If the UN declares it a genocide (as the US are pushing them to so) then they'd have to send in troops.
posted by fshgrl at 8:04 AM on December 22, 2004


But, but, but--Save the Children and Catholic Relief Services are faith-based initiatives!
posted by Sidhedevil at 8:04 AM on December 22, 2004


Let them eat faith.
posted by digaman at 8:06 AM on December 22, 2004


Not by bread alone...
posted by jmgorman at 8:08 AM on December 22, 2004


Jesus Christ is his favorite philosopher - he said so himselfi
posted by trondant at 8:09 AM on December 22, 2004


Bush's answer to global poverty: let 'em starve.

'Tis the season
for convenient hyperbole
& drama queenery!
posted by dhoyt at 8:13 AM on December 22, 2004


Our foreign aid is currently taking other forms.

without some bit of elaboration i can't tell if this is sincere or a joke.
posted by danOstuporStar at 8:14 AM on December 22, 2004 [1 favorite]


This is just being misinterpreted. Obviously, Bush is following a higher standard and helping them to be relieved of their earthly pains and hungers in a far more permenent fashion.

After all, giving food only eases suffering for a day.
posted by InnocentBystander at 8:16 AM on December 22, 2004


*yawn* Tell us something we don't know about Dubya.
posted by Doohickie at 8:17 AM on December 22, 2004



without some bit of elaboration i can't tell if this is sincere or a joke.


That's the same general problem I have with the Bush administration. Too bad so many people will have been killed or impoverished before we find out.
posted by alms at 8:17 AM on December 22, 2004


Bush: "If you teach a man to fish... he'll.... eat a fish, but if you... fish... A man can't live on fish alone!!"
posted by idontlikewords at 8:18 AM on December 22, 2004


Bush's answer to global poverty: let 'em starve.

Boy, a lot of people are going to take you seriously when you word things in such a realistic, honest manner.

Good luck with that.
posted by xmutex at 8:18 AM on December 22, 2004


After all, giving food only eases suffering for a day.

But these were self-sufficiency programs. So by letting them starve, he's saving them from a lifetime of hard work.
posted by alms at 8:20 AM on December 22, 2004


There's no way I'd vote for this guy.
posted by orange clock at 8:22 AM on December 22, 2004


Alms - see! THAT'S how much of a humanitarian he really is. What other world leader can relieve so many of the heavy burden of work and self-sufficency?
posted by InnocentBystander at 8:25 AM on December 22, 2004


'Tis the season
for convenient hyperbole
& drama queenery!

Boy, a lot of people are going to take you seriously when you word things in such a realistic, honest manner.

"Eliminating the tax cut is the same thing as a tax increase!"

"Okay, then eliminating poverty relief is the same thing as promoting poverty."

"Stop using hyperbole, you stupid liberal!"
posted by XQUZYPHYR at 8:25 AM on December 22, 2004


Hmm, you know, if these poor people would, you know, pony up some recruits for the occupation force in Iraq then I'm sure Mr. Bush would be able to find some money to kick down to them.

I just don't think the poor, hungry people are trying hard enough to make the deal worth Mr. Bush's time.

But you know what would be cool? If the country rose up, donated ten times the needed amount and these charities didn't need to rely on Bush's handouts. Its too bad the charities mentioned in the story are mostly ecumenical because I have zero interest in helping a religious group spread their faith as well as feeding people.
posted by fenriq at 8:30 AM on December 22, 2004


Actually, neither Save the Children nor Catholic Relief Services are proselytizing organizations. However, fenriq, let me commend Oxfam to you.
posted by Sidhedevil at 8:34 AM on December 22, 2004


Would you rather have butter or guns? Preparedness makes us powerful. Butter merely makes us (or in this case, them) fat.
posted by QuestionableSwami at 8:34 AM on December 22, 2004


Thank god the European Union is picking up the slack.

Good wingnut! Have a biscuit.
posted by Armitage Shanks at 8:38 AM on December 22, 2004


Butter or guns? I can't tell if you're kidding. Please be kidding.
posted by odinsdream at 8:42 AM on December 22, 2004


keep in mind that bush once said that there was no hunger in texas, as far as he knew. since texas, in his and karl rove's minds, represents everything america and the world should be, it's hardly surprising that this administration isn't doing as much as it could to address issues like this.
posted by lord_wolf at 8:49 AM on December 22, 2004


But you know what would be cool? If the country rose up, donated ten times the needed amount and these charities didn't need to rely on Bush's handouts. Its too bad the charities mentioned in the story are mostly ecumenical because I have zero interest in helping a religious group spread their faith as well as feeding people.

I'm curious as to how this is going to fall out. Bush placed a great deal of emphasis on faith-based initiatives. That emphasis was in some part responsible for quite a bit of support he received during the 2004 campaign from those faith-based organizations. Now, the Bush administration is reneging on promises made to faith-based organizations because his other policies have destroyed the budget.
For some of these organizations, those contributions meant a great deal - quite a bit of planning and expenditure occurred on the part of these organizations because those promises were made. They're not just out the contributions promised to them, but also the initial funding the organizations tapped to get things moving before these contributions came in.
There's no way individual contributors (read: the general public) will be able to make up the slack, because they're already feeling the pinch of rising interest rates and a falling dollar. Some of the wealthy philanthropists may be able to help, but that, too, is a rough message.
posted by FormlessOne at 9:04 AM on December 22, 2004


In the immortal words of Ross Perot, "Now that's just sad."

Unfortunately, I think that the American Consumer has tapped out the credit cards, let alone the checkbook, and are not in a position to "pick up the slack," even though we are talking about an amount of money that is something $0.35 per American.
posted by ilsa at 9:12 AM on December 22, 2004


here in texas, hunger is swiftly punished
posted by jungturk at 9:14 AM on December 22, 2004


keep in mind that bush once said that there was no hunger in texas, as far as he knew. since texas, in his and karl rove's minds, represents everything america and the world should be, it's hardly surprising that this administration isn't doing as much as it could to address issues like this.
posted by lord_wolf

Nor apparently, was there any education in Texas public schools, during the Bush/Paige term in TX....
posted by vhsiv at 9:24 AM on December 22, 2004


I don't think you can get angry at people for not sharing the opinion that they are responsible for alleviating the hunger of others.

Although I regularly do.
posted by xmutex at 9:25 AM on December 22, 2004


If the country rose up, donated ten times the needed amount and these charities didn't need to rely on Bush's handouts.

Yeah, the thing is, it's not like it's Bush's money. It's our money, and we should be spending it on things that make life better for all of us rather than sending it to Haliburton.
posted by bshort at 9:32 AM on December 22, 2004


merry christmas!
are we not merciful?
but hey, no surprises about priorities here, since we don't even give a sh*t about the poverty in this country
posted by threehundredandsixty at 9:34 AM on December 22, 2004


Sidhedevil, thanks, I'd forgotten about OXFAM.

xmutuex, the issue is they promised the money and now they're saying they can't pay up.

bshort, you're right. Only problem is that we had that election and the country said that Bush was doing a bang up job and he can continue on his course. It is our money but not for long.

And, of course, if the charities were privately funded then that would let Bush off the hook and he'd be able to give that extra $100 million to Halliburton for imaginary supplies and materials in Iraq.
posted by fenriq at 9:35 AM on December 22, 2004


Let them eat ownership.
posted by shawnj at 9:36 AM on December 22, 2004


``If they would rather die,'' said Scrooge, ``they had better do it, and decrease the surplus population. Besides -- excuse me -- I don't know that.''

``But you might know it,'' observed the gentleman.

``It's not my business,'' Scrooge returned. ``It's enough for a man to understand his own business, and not to interfere with other people's. Mine occupies me constantly. Good afternoon, gentlemen!''

posted by Sidhedevil at 9:42 AM on December 22, 2004


bush has already clarified that he has no sympathy for those who "starve their folks," so I imagine it's only a matter of time before he discards himself into the tennessee river.
posted by mcsweetie at 9:42 AM on December 22, 2004


"Who cares what you think?" - GWB
posted by nofundy at 9:53 AM on December 22, 2004


Imagine if Bush were deciding how much money to give to some charities. He was thinking somewhere between 500 and 900 million dollars, and he chose 800 million for that year. Anyone would have been happy with 500 million. Two years later he decides to scale back to 600 million. What happens?

Liberals go nuts. He has cut back 200 million dollars. He hates poor people. Never mind that he is still giving more than the liberals even asked for in the first place. Never mind that he gave 300 million two years in a row above what people were suggesting. He is now trying to starve people because he "cut back." Whenever we criticize a "cutback," we are pre-supposing that the original amount was somehow some magical, infallible figure.
posted by flarbuse at 10:13 AM on December 22, 2004


Speaking of "magical figures", flarbuse, where are you getting yours? Care to share?
posted by BobFrapples at 10:25 AM on December 22, 2004


Um, flarbuse, when you make written funding commitments to charities, it is only moral to keep them. But I guess us "liberals" don't understand morals. Damn those "liberal" religious charities!
posted by Sidhedevil at 10:25 AM on December 22, 2004


flarbuse - "Liberals"?

How about "people that hate it when other people starve"?

And your lame, lame apologies aside, a cutback is a cutback. And in this case, that means that a lot of people are going to go hungry.
posted by bshort at 10:26 AM on December 22, 2004


Right, flarbuse. Besides, the scientific jury is still out on the effects of starvation -- there's no need to lock us into these premature commitments.
posted by digaman at 10:26 AM on December 22, 2004


On a brighter note, if they keep the cutback in place, it'll pay for the thus-far accumulated cost of the war in Iraq by 2710.
posted by Armitage Shanks at 10:35 AM on December 22, 2004


How does the old bumper sticker read?

"It will be a great day when our schools get all the money they need and the Air Force has to hold a bake sale to buy a bomber."

Let them eat cake, indeed.
posted by terrapin at 10:49 AM on December 22, 2004


So this tough budget = tough luck if you're starving.
posted by SisterHavana at 10:54 AM on December 22, 2004


But these were self-sufficiency programs. So by letting them starve, he's saving them from a lifetime of hard work.

Now that was funny as hell. Sad. But funny.
posted by mstefan at 10:56 AM on December 22, 2004


Sorry if I'm late to the party here, I'm a new user. Anyway, serious question. Why is it the job of the US government to fund these sort of things and not the duty of individual US citizens to choose where and how they want to help overseas?

I personally give to OxFam and MSF (Doctors Without Borders) every year because I like to choose how and when my money will be used. When the federal government chooses for me I lose that freedom.

And the answer is not "The federal government has $10 trillion available"- if you got each US Family to give just a couple dollars to an organization then there would be even more good done. What makes the US Government special? Why can't we individually step up?
posted by thedevildancedlightly at 11:05 AM on December 22, 2004


Where do I get figures in a paragraph that begins, "Imagine if...?" Why, in my imagination, of course.

Well, the point of my post was to raise the point that people tend to focus on increases or decreases in spending, rather than what an appropriate amount to spend in the first place would be.

I obviously overlooked the written funding contributions detail, which certainly would negate the point I was attempting to make in this particular case.

My point was intended to be more of a general point regarding changes in spending. I used a specific example to attempt to help illustrate my point.
posted by flarbuse at 11:07 AM on December 22, 2004


Well, your imaginary example does indeed illustrate a reaction characteristic of many imaginary Liberals.
posted by sonofsamiam at 11:09 AM on December 22, 2004


Never mind that he is still giving more than the liberals even asked for in the first place

I'm a liberal and I didn't ask for poopy. OTOH one of my very conservative friends who is involved in aid work did ask for money and she's pretty steamed right about now.

I'd give these groups money right now, religious or not. First feed the people they are commited to caring in the immediate future, then worry about not saving their souls. Anyways I don't think either one of these organisations is out there trying to convert anyone. Plenty of secular/ non-religious people work for them.
posted by fshgrl at 11:45 AM on December 22, 2004


What makes the US Government special?

One thing that makes them special is that the US government used to be called something known as a representative democracy. The way it works is, they demand a significant portion of my income under threat of imprisonment, and promise to spend that money in good ways.

Bush is still spending the money, I still send it to the IRS under threat of jail, but Bush has decided that, oh, say, blowing the arms and legs off Iraqi children is more in my interest than feeding other starving children in other places.

There was a war fought over this issue, which was known at the time as "No taxation without representation." It was called the American Revolution.
posted by digaman at 11:50 AM on December 22, 2004


I obviously overlooked the written funding contributions detail, which certainly would negate the point I was attempting to make in this particular case.

Er, yes, it negates the point entirely.

Obviously, a charity is going to use written commitments for funding in planning its services--when those commitments are reneged upon, the only possible outcome is reduced services.
posted by Sidhedevil at 11:50 AM on December 22, 2004


Digaman - I actually agree fully that the US is a representative democracy and should spend money in a way that represents the people. As it happens, Bush won re-election, which might indicate that a majority supports his judgement in choosing to blow arms and legs off Iraqi children (to use your words). So, you've actually hit the point that I'm trying to make. There are things that _I_ care about (MSF, OxFam, etc) that a majority of Americans might not (apparently they prefer "blowing the arms and legs off Iraqi children"). Instead of trying to force them at gunpoint (you said it yourself) to support causes that I believe in, why shouldn't I just support the causes that I belive in?

Eg, why wouldn't it make more sense to reduce taxes by $700 million (or whatever) and make it clear that it's a private citizen's duty to give to those causes that they care about? That solves the problem of the US giving money for AIDS education overseas with anti-abortion requirements. Or don't even reduce taxes, but admit that foreign military policy is a different realm than foreign humanitarian assitance.

I'm not saying there's no role for the government in foreign affairs (there are clearly types of pressure that the US government can apply that MSF can't), but you haven't come up with a reason why a collection of individual actions by those who believe in a cause are worse than forcing other taxpayers to support something they might not believe in.

Incidentally, OxFam and MSF if anybody wants to put their money where their mouth is.
posted by thedevildancedlightly at 12:11 PM on December 22, 2004


Whenever we criticize a "cutback," we are pre-supposing that the original amount was somehow some magical, infallible figure.

Well I don't know about infallible, but let's compare with the Joneses. Right now the Joneses include Greece (scroll half way down). 0.1% of GDP. That's pretty scrooge-ey.
posted by anthill at 12:14 PM on December 22, 2004


flarbuse: so do you often use imaginary straw men to your imaginary position on for imaginary policies?
posted by bshort at 12:16 PM on December 22, 2004


From Sean: I was hitchhiking across the state of Alaska in March a number of years ago trying to get back to Oregon from the Kenai peninsula. It was about 20 below zero and I was on the side of a dirt highway in the absolute middle of nowhere late one night. I had been dropped off there by a guy in a pickup truck who was turning off the highway at some fork or other. I started to get really cold and started to wonder how long it would take me to die out there. There was some light a mile or so off, so I started to walk towards it. Turned out it was a gas station and it was still open. I made it there and the guy said that I could sleep in the garage of the station till the following morning under an oil smeared ruck sack, but only if I would accept Jesus Christ as my personal savior.
posted by orange clock at 12:32 PM on December 22, 2004


that should have been:
flarbuse: so do you often use imaginary straw men to argue your imaginary position on imaginary policies?

so embarrassed...
posted by bshort at 12:50 PM on December 22, 2004


Is it really that difficult to understand that I was not making an argument defending the funding decision in the article? While I may have been lacking in eloquence, I did make more than one attempt to clearly state that when a discussion of spending changes ensues, it is a useful but forgotten practice to examine the original funding amount and not just look at the difference proposed.

The word sometimes used to describe what I did in my first post is called a "hypothetical." "Imagine" means the same thing as "suppose." The hypothetical was used to attempt to illustrate how people focus more on spending increases and decreases than they do on the amount of the funding itself. As sidhedevil has pointed out twice now, the specifics of this post do not fit my hypothetical. I recognized that the first time it was pointed out. Thank you. It still does not change the heart of my point, which seems to remain completely elusive to some.

I do not claim this to be the most insightful observation of all time. I also do not consider it to be the most complex. If my third effort to explain this has not succeeded, then I will be happy to attempt it in Spanish.
posted by flarbuse at 2:20 PM on December 22, 2004


flarbuse, it certainly is hypothetically possible that some hypothetical people might complain short-sightedly about changes in funding levels based on some hypothetical feeling of entitlement.

I certainly accept that that might be true, hypothetically. But it still isn't relevant to this discussion.
posted by Sidhedevil at 2:45 PM on December 22, 2004


Save the Children just pulled out of Darfur after 4 of their staff were killed. If the UN declares it a genocide (as the US are pushing them to so) then they'd have to send in troops.

Yeah, and then all the security council members will balk at committing too many troops and they'll half-ass it again like they did when the former yugoslavia broke up, and when genocide errupted in somalia and rwanda.
posted by The God Complex at 3:16 PM on December 22, 2004


Is it hard peddling backwards, flatbuse?

Goddamn blood sucking libruls.

"The federal government has $10 trillion available"- if you got each US Family to give just a couple dollars to an organization then there would be even more good done

Wow, I didn't realise the US had a population of over five trillion families.
posted by Jimbob at 3:20 PM on December 22, 2004


Jimbob - Okay, thanks for the call-out on inflating the numbers. The US renegged on $100 million. If each metafilter user gave $5,000 then it's covered. That might be too much, so let's broaden the base a bit. If each California resident gave $10.00 then it's covered. If each Kerry voter gave $2.00 then it's covered. Etc.

In other words, what gives me the right to force other taxpayers to donate to a good cause that won't directly affect their lives? I certainly think that there's a moral obligation to do so individually, but it's tough to make the argument that we should force others, at gunpoint, to give to charity. Further, in the process between collection via the IRS, to congress playing games with funding (attaching anti-abortion provisions to foreign aid), to inefficient distribution, the $1.00 that we hold somebody at gunpoint to give suddenly becomes a mis-spent $0.50.

This holiday season express how you really feel and give to your favorite international aid organizaiton. I've suggested mine already (OxFam and MSF), but you may have your own. Vote with your wallet. Far more efficient that way.
posted by thedevildancedlightly at 3:48 PM on December 22, 2004


Tis the season
for convenient hyperbole
& drama queenery!


Fuck you, dhoyt, you fucking homophobe.
posted by AlexReynolds at 8:33 PM on December 22, 2004


Liberals go nuts. He has cut back 200 million dollars. He hates poor people. Never mind that he is still giving more than the liberals even asked for in the first place.

What happens when a few people are critical of Bush? Some people go nuts and throw the word liberal around like it's actually relevant...
posted by juiceCake at 9:07 PM on December 22, 2004


thedevildancedlightly,

Can we start by making it optional whether or not blue staters pay charitable taxes to red states?
posted by xammerboy at 10:34 PM on December 22, 2004


Xammerboy - You said it, not me. Might be a good start to cutting the debt.
posted by thedevildancedlightly at 12:49 AM on December 23, 2004


Ah, the happy fun "no win" scenario. Obviously nothing this government does will please many of it's critics.

Hell, if they had >increased< funding peopel would be bitching that Bush was dumping money into a "faith based" charity (even if the connectionw as tenuos) and not putting it to HumVee armor or something.
posted by soulhuntre at 3:42 AM on December 23, 2004


I would be okay with the essence of this were he to redirect that money towards Americans (not American people -- that is such crap -- what is this: noblesse oblige?) but I am pretty sure that there isn't going to be an end to poverty or malnutrition any time soon on our shores.
posted by chrisabraham at 6:44 AM on December 23, 2004


AlexReynolds, I understand that you were offended by dhoyt's comment, but your comment adds nothing to the thread.

soulhuntre, I think that if the administration had kept the funding commitments it had previously agreed to, nobody would have said anything.
posted by Sidhedevil at 9:13 AM on December 23, 2004


we also have a premier (Gov.) in the province of Alberta, Canada. He has told the poor to just get a job (Christmas eve last year.
he told the homeless he would buy them bus tickets to Vancouver. This year (while he was running for reelection) he attacked disabled people.
posted by Ranger03 at 11:01 AM on December 23, 2004


"soulhuntre, I think that if the administration had kept the funding commitments it had previously agreed to, nobody would have said anything."

Only because they would not have had their attention drawn to the issue, not because they would have been happy. That is, until some huge crisis showed up someplace and they complained that Bush hadn't held back money for large scale emergency aid.
posted by soulhuntre at 10:31 PM on December 24, 2004


Soulhuntre, so you're saying we shouldn't complain when the Administration lies, even if keeping their word would be less than satisfactory? WTF?
posted by billsaysthis at 10:01 AM on December 25, 2004


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