I'd like to point out here the difference between the suggestion of aid to the U.S. now, and the discussion a month back about Canada's aid to China. At that time, a group of bloggers (from across the political spectrum) agreed with Con MP Helena Guergis that Canada should cut off aid to China.
From the CBC at the time:
Guergis asked why the Liberal government is giving money to a country that:
* Has the biggest army in the world.
* Abuses human rights.
* Has the second-largest economy in the world.
* Has a space program.
* Has a nuclear-weapons program.
China doesn't need Canadian aid, and has even been trying to buy up Canadian companies, she said.
The aid going to China included funding to set up a legal aid program as well as food aid to impoverished areas. Some of the funding involved partnerships with government agencies, but all funding was targeted toward trying to improve the plight of the worst-off who hadn't seen the benefits of wealth collection elsewhere in the country.
Given that background, my question for discussion is this: if Guergis' criteria for refusing to give aid are valid, then how can an individual advocate giving aid to the U.S.? (Note that both Guergis herself and at least one blogger have personally taken the position of no aid to China, but aid to the U.S.)
To make it more challenging, I'm not buying any argument that we should respond differently to suffering caused by an emergency than to ongoing problem. The purpose of humanitarian aid must be to respond to humanitarian suffering, regardless of whether an immediate natural phenomenon is one of the most obvious causes. And even if there was a basis for distinction, it would surely evaporate in light of the U.S.' failure to properly fund measures which would have prevented the worst of the suffering. If we're concerned about indirectly supporting bad policy choices in China, we should have an equal concern about doing the same on our own continent.
So, have at it. If China is too rich and powerful to be a worthy aid recipient, why then should we send aid to the U.S.?
I'll mention in closing that I also disagree with Robert's position, for substantially the reason why I disagreed with the majority on the question of aid to China. The fact that there's a lot of wealth elsewhere in the U.S. doesn't mean that the people affected by Katrina aren't in a situation of urgent need. And to the extent that our aid can make a difference, it's entirely appropriate to try to do what we can.
Yes, we should be doing a lot more for Africa as well (i.e. actually meeting the .7% aid commitment). But as part of an effort to strengthen a global sense of community, we should be engaging in all reasonable efforts to try to help the worst-off. And those efforts should be made whether the need is in Africa, in the U.S., or in China.