Progressive politics, ideas & culture


ethics of aid II

This Magazine Staff

Assume we ought to be sending aid for tsunami victims. Who is the “we” that should be doing the donating?
1. Private individuals donating out of their own pockets.
2. Corporations donating goods, services, and cash.
3. Governments.
The first is entirely unproblematic.
There has been a lot of press about how generous corporations have been in the wake of the disaster, but there’s a problem: In the case of publicly-traded corporations, the money isn’t theirs to donate. It belongs to shareholders, who might rightly object that they would rather the corporation return the money to shareholders, who could then distribute it or keep it, as they see fit.
The third seems unproblematic as well, although according to the Ayn Rand institute:
The United States government, however, should not give any money to help the tsunami victims. Why? Because the money is not the government’s to give.

Bonkers as the objectivists are, I confess that I find this headline from the red cross site a bit disconcerting:
Double the power of your donation! When you give to the Canadian Red Cross Asia Earthquake & Tsunami Relief fund before Jan. 11, 2005 the Government of Canada will generously match your gift!

Show Comments