Japan, home to approximately 130 million people, has pledged $500 million in aid to help countries suffering losses from the tsunami. The United States, with a population of approximately 300 million people, is pledging a mere $350 million. Basically that boils down to about $1 per person for the United States, and around $4 per person for Japan.Yes, help is help. Anything the United States donates will be greatly appreciated by the countries who have suffered massive devastation. However, considering that $3.17 billion- – not million but billion – was granted to the state of Florida as disaster relief, America can do better.
I am not saying that the United States was unjustified in spending as much as it did on Florida. It is our home turf, and we need to ensure that we can take care of our own citizens. However, in the Hurricane Charley disaster, approximately 20 people were killed. Our government realized that aid was badly needed to help the hundreds of thousands left homeless to rebuild. The death toll for the tsunami in Asia left 224,980 more people dead than the Hurricane Charley disaster, and yet the United States is not pledging half as much as it spent on Florida.
Granted, the $350 million is an improvement over the originally pledged $35 million, but we can do better.
Here’s the main idea: America has money. Not as much money as we would hope for, but we are one of the most affluent nations in the world. America is a role model. Other countries look to America’s behavior to determine the course of their actions. If we, as Americans, are closed-minded enough to think that our own disaster in Florida deserves more than five times the amount of aid that we are giving to multiple countries in Asia, then it is a sad day indeed for our country. I love my country, and I love that my country tells me it cares about everyone, regardless of race, gender and social standing. Now I challenge my country to show me it truly believes in equality and that all who suffer deserve help by upping the bar on tsunami aid.
Opinion editor Talia Sampson is a freshman news-editorial journalism and political science major from Moorpark, Calif.