Thursday, December 30, 2004



Pissing contests

In the face of intense criticisms from their own citizens, western nations are increasing their assistance to the victims of Sunday's tsunami. Canada has just upped its contribution tenfold; Wampum calls on the US government to do the same, noting that Canada is a tenth of the size (populationwise) of the US, but is now giving more. She also notes that she doesn't care if this "turns into a pissing contest, with sundry countries attempting to outdo each other".

Actually, I think a pissing contest is something we should try and encourage. It will be good for those in desperate need (one tenth of the population of Sri Lanka is homeless, for example), and it is far better to have a pissing contest on charity than one on tanks and guns.

So, by way of encouragement: New Zealand's contribution is NZ$5 milion, or around US$3.5 million at current exchange rates. That's about US$0.80 for every New Zealander. If the US gave the same, they'd be forking out US$235 milion or so - slightly more than the cost of one day's oppression in Iraq. If they upped their contribution to the level of Spain - which has given 50 million Euros (US$65 million) - they'd be giving almost US$500 million.

To help everyone along, here's a quick summary of government contributions per capita, using figures from Reuters for significant donors (and those above for Canada and Spain):

CountryAid
(US$ millions)
Population
(millions)
US$/capita
Kuwait1002.245.45
Norway1824.540.44
Australia7642038.20
Qatar250.831.25
Denmark755.413.89
NZ47.6411.90
Sweden808.98.99
Germany674818.32
Austria66.1688.27
Finland305.25.76
UK242604.03
Japan5001283.91
Ireland13.53.93.46
Switzerland23.87.33.26
Canada95322.97
Netherlands36162.25
Taiwan50.25232.18
Italy95571.67
Spain68401.63
Belgium16.3210.31.58
USA3502961.20
Saudi Arabia30261.15
France66601.10
Portugal11101.10
South Korea50491.02

Feel free to use this rough and ready comparison to encourage your own government to give more.

And OTOH, Oxfam is reminding people not to forget other crises, so I guess we don't want our governments too focussed...

Update (31/12/04): Britain has upped their contribution to US$96 million. France has also donated US$20 million. Table adjusted accordingly.

Update 2 (01/01/05): The US has upped their donation tenfold.

Update 3 (01/01/05): Major update as several countries have dramatically upped their contributions. Meanwhile, NZ's paltry US$3.5 million is looking more miserly by the hour...

Update 4 (02/01/05): Updated Japan's enormous increase, and added Finland, Italy, and Qatar.

Update 5 (04/01/05): Updated NZ's contribution. That's more like it.

Update 6 (05/01/05): Norway goes to the top of the table after updating for the figures in this BBC story (including pledged matching donations so far from Candada and Britain). And it looks like the US is about to be trumped again - Germany is reportedly planning to increase its contribution to US$680 million, and Australia is planning to kick in AU$500 million (US$389 million). That's from a country a tenth the size of the US...

Update 7 (06/01/05): Updated Germany and Australia.

Update 8 (07/01/05): Updated Saudi Arabia.

Update 9 (14/01/05): Added Taiwan, Belgium and Kuwait, and updated Austria.

Update 10 (18/01/05): Updated New Zealand's figure.

21 comments:

Hmmm if we are going to treat it as a competition it may as well be a tax - like the UN imposes a tax whenever a disaster causes more than an arbitrary level of harm.
Otherwise donating is a volentary thing - I hate to complain when I get a christmas present because it isn't big enough.
Otherwise you get the sort of effect like on the radio yesterday with people complaining that NZ donates too much.

Posted by Genius : 12/30/2004 09:13:00 PM

I read that $2 mill of NZ's is dependent on donations by the NZ public - ie the govt will match what we donate, up to a max of $2 million. Seems a bit stupid to me - I reckon if the money is there we should send it, no (err) pissing about.

Posted by bec : 12/30/2004 09:13:00 PM

thanks IS - I've pointed mr bhatnagar to your post as he seems to think that NZ is only giving $500K for some reason.

Posted by span : 12/30/2004 09:19:00 PM

stupid telecom charging 70 cents on the 20 dollars the Red cross claim they are taking htat 70c from other funds but that is robbing peter to pay paul.
I dislike the dishonesty of that. telecom should give it for free if not the red cross should at least try to give us a free way to donate.

Posted by Genius : 12/30/2004 10:01:00 PM

The US Chimp in Charge has to have a big (40 million dollar) party to celebrate the election he stole so too bad for the rest of the world.

Posted by TXsharon : 12/31/2004 04:01:00 AM

Genius: actually, I'm all in favour of the UN having the power to tax - though it would also require a major democratisation of governance.

Bec: so call the Red Cross already and make sure they get the full amount?

Matching funds are also a way of encouraging private donations, and can be a useful part of a package.

Posted by Idiot/Savant : 12/31/2004 12:00:00 PM

If it takes a pissing contest - just keep those diuretics flowing. And keep that table updated - this is only the beginning.

Posted by Greyshade : 12/31/2004 12:21:00 PM

> actually, I'm all in favour of the UN having the power to tax - though it would also require a major democratisation of governance.

At some stage we will need some one to take action on certain isues of global concern - even if proper democracy is imposible.

> Matching funds are also a way of encouraging private donations

the assumption is that private donors irrationally underestimate the effect of their donations.. and so must be encouraged via the government enhancing that effect. tht initself implies the private donation system is a bit flawed.

Anyway - it always seems to be that private charity is a bit of a tax on being caring. And would tend to result in misalocation - for example one might donate to their nearest charity and the money might go to another cause or helping out a group that is far from the most needy a organization like NZ govt is in a better position to see exactly who should get it - (having said that, in this case the red cross probably is too)

Posted by Genius : 12/31/2004 01:30:00 PM

> actually, I'm all in favour of the UN having the power to tax - though it would also require a major democratisation of governance.

At some stage we will need some one to take action on certain isues of global concern - even if proper democracy is imposible.

i am pretty sure that government of the day still will find a way to screw un and pocket some money to needy politician... regarding democracy, it is nice idea, seem working marginally better than fashism, communism or zionism... try to explain to these...

Posted by Anonymous : 12/31/2004 09:12:00 PM

ireland upped her contribution to €10 million. there are 4 million people in ireland, so at current exchange rates that's around $4 per person.

Posted by Anonymous : 1/01/2005 03:08:00 PM

fook me! us donated whole 1.5 days expenditure worth of iraq war! poor yankes may now lose the war! beside, somehow i do not see any of the muslim countries donations (except saudi), where's sultan of brunai? he is one of the richest persons in the world, what about kuwait? sheikhanates? uae? i was under impression that these countries have much more money than any of the rest of the world... they do not give alms? i was under impression that al khoran put alms obligation on every muslim... indonesia (most devastated) is muslim country...

Posted by Anonymous : 1/01/2005 06:32:00 PM

Two pretty big things here for me to say... First- private donations make a huge big difference. People think that them giving AUS$5 doesn't do much, but if 1/4 of the people from Australia donated AUS$5 on top of the govt, then that'd be an extra AUS$1.25 each, bringing Australia's per capita contribution up to ~US$3.60, an increase of 27%. Which would make a significant contribution.

If you can afford to donate more- $10, $20, $100, $1,000,000, whatever... it has even more of an effect. But the problem isn't that people don't donate enough, but that not enough people donate.

Secondly, something sad I have seen a lot of in the last couple of days, is using this tragedy to score political points against Muslims and/or Islam. Blast the individual countries, sure. But to use this to continue and encourage the vitriol against any religion is truly awful.

Posted by Quail : 1/01/2005 10:45:00 PM

% of GDP may be a more "fair" yardstick than US$ per person. On the other hand that may make Timor's be reported as massively negative which would be a bit unfair ;)

Interestingly the top three countries - Denmark, Sweden, and Norway are the three main countries which form Scandinavia (there also may be a couple of small nations in Scandinavia, I'm not sure though.)

Since I'm anon I'll mention that my father is Danish :)

Posted by Anonymous : 1/02/2005 03:24:00 AM

>% of GDP may be a more "fair" yardstick than US$ per person. On the other hand that may make Timor's be reported as massively negative which would be a bit unfair ;)

well... in that case me thunk, us will be totally and uterrly on the very end of the scale, even behind burkina faso and ethiopia. us give to all charitable purposes (including aids, malaria, food and other overseas programs) 0.24% of they gdp. where on armament us give close to $1000.00 per citizen per annum - which i sclose to 7% of they gdp. i do not know therefore if that will be better comparison (for us at least). oh, byr the way, i have data from official statistical review as provided by cia...

Posted by Anonymous : 1/02/2005 12:25:00 PM

A better method would be % of tax revenues if you are only going to consider government donations (and talk about hte generosity of the government) or "total donations by public and private" if you want the generosity of the whole country.

As many americans would be quick to argue some countries can create a system that encourages private donations as opposed to public ones. Others may have a system that might lets say strongly discourage private donation and donate nationally.

Posted by Genius : 1/02/2005 10:12:00 PM

The Canadian government has raised its pledge to $80 million. Here is a new table based on GDP:
How the governments of the world rank in their generosity
country giving (mill) GDP (bill) % of GDP
1 Qatar 10 17.54 0.05701
2 Denmark 55 167 0.03293
3 Sweden 75 238 0.03151
4 finland 30 142 0.02113
5 japan 500 3582 0.01396
6 ireland 13.5 116 0.01164
7 switzer 23.8 239 0.00996
8 norway 16.5 172 0.00959
9 austral 52.6 571 0.00921
10 Canada 80 959 0.00834
11 new zea 7 85 0.00824
12 nether 36 461 0.00781
13 spain 68 886 0.00767
14 Portugl 11 182 0.00604
15 UK 96 1666 0.00576
16 Saudi A 10 288 0.00347
17 France 56 1661 0.00337
18 US 350 10880 0.00322
19 Germany 26 2271 0.00114
20 Austria 1.4 245 0.00057
21 Italy 4 1550 0.00026

Posted by Anonymous : 1/05/2005 06:08:00 PM

Thanks, you've just saved me a lot of effort.

Posted by Idiot/Savant : 1/05/2005 07:22:00 PM

I read somewhere that North Korea, though impoverished, managed to give $150,000. I thought this was an admirable effort. Could you list it, if verified.
Aussie

Posted by Anonymous : 1/07/2005 12:54:00 AM

My workmate wants to know where Taiwan stands in these rankings but I can't find the information.

If you have the time could you be so kind?

Posted by Erebus : 1/07/2005 12:20:00 PM

oz give in total (private and government) over 2.8bil $$$$$!!!! fook me! heaps of dosh! government by-passed all agencies and donated directly to indonesia 1bil! how land of oz now looks in yer statistics pls? why u do not update? why u do not mention other countries which chipped in? thnx buddy ;-)

Posted by Anonymous : 1/08/2005 01:13:00 AM

Anon: the tables only measure government pledges. I have seen some data on private donations, but its a little thinner. But feel free to collate it and publicise it, as I am sure it will be interesting.

Posted by Idiot/Savant : 1/18/2005 06:45:00 PM