Tsunami relief effort should take priority


Published: Tuesday, January 4, 2005 at 6:01 a.m.
Last Modified: Monday, January 3, 2005 at 11:04 p.m.

I have a suggestion for raising funds for the tsunami relief efforts. To help the people in Southeast Asia with the worst disaster in memory, I believe our president should forgo his lavish inauguration party in January 2005 and devote the estimated $30 million to $40 million (which does not include security costs) to the relief effort.

I make this suggestion, not as a Democrat or a Republican, but as an American wanting to see us do more. I hope our president can see the simple wisdom of humanitarian aid being a far better way to spend $30 million to $40 million than spending it in a single day at a grossly expensive inauguration.

The money could not only help with cleanup and medicine, but could help save untold numbers of lives, as many experts believe the worst of the disaster could be yet to come. Cholera, dysentery, hepatitis and other diseases may claim as many victims as the initial destructive wave, and our money and medicine could make the difference for thousands of lives.

America's donations to the relief effort so far total about half of what Spain has already promised. We are the richest and most powerful nation in the world and there is no way Spain should be ahead of America in funding this disaster relief.

I'd love nothing more than to see our president lead the effort and forego his extravagant inauguration party to show Americans and the world that we can be the most generous nation in the world.

Josh Hellstrom,

Gainesville

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