Wednesday, January 05, 2005

The good heart of the American people

'The good heart of the American people'
By Robert Kuttner  
Boston Globe
January 5, 2005
THE US government ranks near the bottom of tsunami aid givers when national income is measured against assistance. So President Bush, in line with his general view of privatization as panacea, is enlisting private charity to fill the gap.
A parade of corporations has lined up to reap some easy publicity. Citigroup, with profits of $17.85 billion in 2003, will donate $3 million, or an infinitesimal proportion of its profits. The same Citigroup got $4.6 billion in tax breaks in 2001-03. That's billion.
The $350 million pledged by the Bush administration, some of which will be diverted from other relief needs, represents 0.003 percent of our national income. Europe, on average, is spending about triple that.
"The greatest source of America's generosity is not our government," the president intoned as he drafted Bill Clinton and his own dad to pass the tin cup. "It's the good heart of the American people."
Herewith, a different view:
The good heart of the American people can be expressed both by personal charitable giving and by national policy. Bush's version of America's good heart is pass-the-buck and the responsibility. His version of bipartisanship is that good old Bill Clinton gets to shill for private money that a decent government would be providing....