The earthquake has gripped the world’s consciousness, and whilst it has caused some prime examples of the best of human nature to display themselves, it has also caused a lamentable number of side-effects. I have therefore taken it upon myself to draw up a list of best and worst ways to help the people of Haiti, which have been respectively spawned and spewed this week.
1. Pay US Income Tax
“We’ve already donated to Haiti. It’s called the US Income Tax.”
Rush Limbaugh to a radio caller.
The United States government has pledged $100 million to Haiti. The European Union has pledged $560 million. By working this out as a per capita rate according to their respective populations, the EU has pledged $1.14 for each EU citizen, whilst the US has only pledged $0.33 per US citizen. Statistics alone would indicate that US Income Tax is certainly not the world’s most efficient means of getting money to Haiti.
2. Pray for their souls
Don’t get me wrong. I am not hating on Christians generally – indeed many of the Charities doing the most for humanitarian relief are in fact Christian organisations (see below). But come on – what about this from Pat Robertson, the US Televangelist:
And you know, Christy, something happened a long time ago in Haiti, and people might not want to talk about it, they were under the heel of the French, uh, you know, Napoleon the third and whatever, and they got together and swore a pact to the devil, they said, we will serve you, if you get us free from the Prince, true story. And so the devil said, ‘OK, it’s a deal.’ And they kicked the French out, the Haitians revolted and got themselves free, and ever since they have been cursed by one thing after the other, desperately poor. . . the Island of Hispaniola is one island cut down the middle. On the one side is Haiti, on the other side is the Dominican Republic. Dominican Republic is, is, prosperous, healthy, full of resorts, etc. Haiti is in desperate poverty, same Islands, uh, they need to have, and we need to pray for them, a great turning to God. And out of this tragedy, I’m optimistic something good may come, but right now we’re helping the suffering people, and the suffering is unimaginable.
“Pat” apparently is not actually his real-name, but a childhood nickname derived from the fact that as a baby people liked to pat him a lot.
May I suggest that in the future he might consider changing it to Punch Robertson.
3. Buy Simon Cowell’s forthcoming charity single
Gordon Brown has apparently asked Simon Cowell to gather a bunch of X-Factor no-marks together as well as a few celebs in order to record a charity single. Oh please! Has Brown no taste? Surely if he wants to court popularity with the British electorate (and boy does he need to) surely he should be asking Rage Against The Machine to record a charity single instead???
1. Make an immediate donation
Here is a selection of sites where you can make a donation by credit card:
2. Write off Haiti’s Debts
According to the charity Christian Aid, Haiti as a country owes $890 million (approximately £550 million) in unpayable debts. Most of this is to the IMF. It is frightening to think that the great and the good have been calling for world financial institutions to cancel third world debt for at least twenty years or more, and it still has not happened to a discernible extent. Whilst it would be great if this happened in the case of Haiti, it is only the second best solution, because although it would make the country $890 million better off, it would not actually represent actual money in their pockets.
3. Buy Lionel Richie’s forthcoming charity single.
Lionel Richie and Quincy Jones are planning to re-record “We Are The World” twenty five years after it was first released, and are getting a load of American stars to perform on it. I actually liked this tune (which Richie originally co-wrote with Michael Jackson), so I think I will bag myself a copy. Much better than the crap Simon Cowell is bound to come up with.
“But Alex,” I hallucinate that you are imploring me. “Why be mean to Simon Cowell when he is trying to be nice this time? Why not buy a copy of both Cowell and Richie’s single?” No, quite frankly. If I were of a mind to pay for two singles recorded for Haitian disaster relief, I would actually download Richie’s single twice.