Wednesday, March 16, 2011
Disaster Aid to Japan
The picture above is from the earthquake and resulting tsunami that have ravaged Japan. Like other international disasters, people, companies, and nations are rushing to their aid. I've been a pretty big critic of foreign aid in past. In Haiti's recent crisis I've recommended trade, not aid to help them rebuild their country. I've even pointed out the flaws of personally volunteering abroad, especially on short term non-technical trips. I stand by those ideas. However, in Japan's case, foreign aid may meet my standard of doing more long term good than harm. Not everyone agrees with me.
Reuters blogger Felix Salmon makes a compelling argument on why Japan, the world's 2nd/3rd largest economy, should not receive the limited funds of charity. Although I agree with him complaint about how we focus too much on sudden tragedies while ignoring ongoing ones, I think on Japan he might be wrong. It is Japan's stable political and economic system that makes it a good candidate for donation. The problems that normally go with foreign aid, corruption and misuse, are much less likely to occur there.
Not surprisingly, I'm not the only one supporting donations to Japan. My go-to-for-everything Tyler Cowen supports it and my local comedy theater is raising money too. That's right, for this weekend's shows 50% of all ticket sales will go to relief aid. As usual I'll be performing this Friday night at 10:30. This particular show is free, but as I'd like it, donations will be accepted at the door. The photos are from the Boston Globe's Big Picture blog. Here are some equally wonderful interactive before and after photos.