The Bush Administration has launched an Internet Based Fund Raising effort and is asking for the general public to dig deep into their pocket for yet
another cause, the governments attempt to rebuild Iraq. This latest fundraiser is aimed at giving everyday Americans "a further stake in building a
free and prosperous Iraq" but the contributers will have no way of knowing exactly who and where their money is going to because the government
"must" keep the details secret for security reasons. Americans have shown they are willing to dig deep for charity with a total of around $250
billion donated to various causes last year alone.
But taxpayers already finance the projects for which the administration is seeking charitable donations, such as providing water pumps for farmers.
And officials say any contributions they receive will increase the scope of those efforts rather than relieve existing taxpayer burdens.
The campaign is raising eyebrows in the international development and not-for-profit communities, where there are questions about its timing--given
needs at home--and whether it will set the government in competition with international not-for-profits.
On a more basic level, experts wonder whether Americans will make charitable donations to a government foreign aid program and whether the contentious
environment surrounding Iraq will make a tough pitch even tougher.
"I'm a little skeptical, and the timing certainly isn't the best," said James Ferris, director of the Center on Philanthropy and Public Policy at
the University of Southern California. "It's going to be a hard sell."
The U.S. Agency for International Development, the federal government's primary distributor of foreign aid, said Friday, "Charitable contributions
play an important role in enriching and extending U.S. government efforts."
The effort is just the newest twist in the administration's struggle to rebuild Iraq. Andrew Natsios, head of USAID, first predicted it would cost
taxpayers no more than $1.7 billion. The tab has since risen to more than $30 billion, with congressional Republicans and Democrats sharply critical
of the high cost and slow pace of progress.
Initially, the Web site, called Iraqpartnership.org, is offering potential contributors a choice of eight projects, each seeking $10,000 or less. They
include purchasing computers for centers designed to assist Iraqi entrepreneurs, buying furniture and supplies for Iraqi elementary and high schools,
paying for the production of posters to promote "awareness of disabilities and rights issues," and buying water pumps for farmers.
Heather Layman, a USAID spokeswoman, said the efforts are being carried out by five private organizations working on Iraq reconstruction with USAID
funding. The site does not provide details about the groups involved or the project locations because of "security issues in Iraq."
The government says all contributions are tax-deductible.
Please visit the link provided for the complete story.
To my way of thinking this is terrible. Why should people be asked to contribute towards this cause when there are many more important issues at home
to take care of first.
Katrina aside, there are millions of poor and homeless who need help within the United States borders, there are sick and ill kids who can't afford
medications right next door to you now, in your same city.
I am a firm believer in taking care of your own backyard first before you start thinking about sticking your nose over the fence and tidying your
neighbours yard up.
* Thanks To FredT for his contribution towards this article.
[edit on 19-9-2005 by Mayet]