There is one feature of the Katrina relief effort that confuses me ever so slightly which is, why are other countries pledging financial aid given that the U.S. Senate just passed a $10.5 billion aid bill?
Consider the amounts pledged:
AUSTRALIA: "We're going to provide A$10 million ($7.6 million) and the bulk of that money, if not all of it, will go to the American Red Cross," said Australian Foreign Minister Alexander Downer. The Australian government said there may be up to 24 Australians trapped in Louisiana in the aftermath of Katrina.
CHINA: China offered $5 million in aid for victims of Hurricane Katrina which devastated the Gulf Coast ahead of President Hu Jintao's U.S. visit. If needed, the Chinese government is also prepared to send rescue workers, including medical experts, officials said.
JAPAN: Will provide $200,000 to the American Red Cross to assist victims of Hurricane Katrina, the Japanese Foreign Ministry said on Friday. Japan will also identify needs in affected regions via the U.S. government and will provide up to $300,000 in emergency supplies such as tents, blankets and power generators if it receives requests for such assistance, the ministry said.
And so on, and so on. But, mathematically speaking, even Australia's $7.6 million represents less than a single per cent of what is coming from the Senate bill. Naturally, what other countries are doing is laudable but, in the end, their contributions simply disappear into the far larger U.S. amount.
And it's particularly galling to think that that Senate bill amount could have been almost entirely covered simply by what the Coalition Provisional Authority managed to "misplace" in Iraq.
AFTERSNARK: Just so I get in my daily quota of pissy attitude, while $10.5 billion sounds like a lot of cash, I have to wonder how much of it will actually go to help the victims, and how much of it is quietly going to end up in places like this.