Friday, September 12, 2008

Red Cross Disaster Relief Fund is Broke

I noted it first on Susan’s not-a-blog, and then heard the news on my own TV during a Houston news conference with a local Red Cross worker speaking along with FEMA director Michael Chertoff (aka Skeletal Mike). He revealed, as it turns out, some old news, that the Red Cross Disaster Relief Fund is broke, and that they have been borrowing money to come to the aid of flood and hurricane victims.

This news is 3 months old.

The news broke on June 17th this year, as seen in this Washington Post article by Philip Rucker.

While the article notes that the Red Cross has, in the past, come under some suspicion by donors when it is constantly changing its leadership, running into blood problems, and the questions over how contributions are handled, I think that problem is superfluous to this situation. Those problems have always been with the Red Cross, but they never ran out of money before. Not until this year when prices of fuel and food has soared. Says Rucker:

“On the cusp of hurricane season, Red Cross executives said the charity has raised just $3.2 million for the Midwest floods and painted a dire picture of its overall disaster relief finances. They said many donors are giving less because of rising gasoline and food prices and the collapse of the housing market. Also, the absence of a major U.S. catastrophe since Hurricane Katrina in 2005 has made it difficult to galvanize donors.”

Last night I sat through the John McCain/Barack Obama Columbia University Public Service Forum. McCain stressed the point that government cannot be looked to as the 100% solution when it comes to public service, that private groups, he emphasized faith-based organizations, should step up. Private groups like the Red Cross.

Here’s my point: how can John McCain expect private community service groups to step up and help when his party has driven the country’s economy into the ground? Private public service groups depend on donations to do their work. Donations that have dried up as people have had to change their spending habits and go into survival mode.

Another reason why messing with the economy should not be something left to Republicans anymore.

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