God's Politics

God's Politics


Don’t Be an Alibi for Social Justice (by Jim Wallis)

posted by gp_intern

One of the high points of the recent World Vision Triennial Council meeting in Singapore was a remarkable address by Jan Egeland, former U.N. under-secretary-general for humanitarian affairs and emergency relief coordinator. Egeland has been deeply involved in the resolution of intractable conflicts in places such as northern Uganda and the eastern Congo, and was one of the early voices to bring Darfur to the world’s attention.
He reported progress in poverty reduction in many places, but he said we still need to convince the 2 billion richest people in the world that they have the responsibility to “lift up” the 1 billion still suffering from extreme poverty. And while we now have 50% fewer wars and conflicts than in 1989—when the Berlin Wall fell—the answer to the question of whether we are doing enough to resolve the toughest and most deadly conflicts “on our watch” is, “no, we’re not.”
Egeland listed 10 challenges for organizations like World Vision, which I believe are helpful to any organization or group seeking to relieve human pain and suffering:
1. To succeed, we have to promise ourselves to speak the truth of what the situation is. If we don’t speak the truth, who will? We are not there to please powerful donors and sponsors.
2. We are not there to administer a crisis, or to manage it and enable people just to survive. Egeland quoted a woman living in a Ugandan refugee camp who said, “You keep us alive, but you haven’t given us life.”
3. We are there to change things, not just to keep people alive. Humanitarian aid cannot become an alibi for moral and political change.
4. After the “watershed” 2005 Millennium +5 U.N. Summit, the international community can and must now intervene when sovereign nations are not protecting their own people from genocide, ethnic cleansing, crimes against humanity, and war crimes.
5. We must offer special protection for women and children who are the worst victims of poverty and conflict. He said women are now being abused more than ever.
6. Our energy and advocacy must be focused on the most neglected and forgotten places of the world.
7. We have to raise more resources, especially from the wealthy nations. Most people in the developed world think their levels of aid are much higher than they really are.
8. We must be conscious of the quality of our humanitarian work. The vulnerable need to be protected from our incompetence. This work is no place for amateurs.
9. We have to confront the proliferation of small arms around the world that fuel the conflicts and cause such human destruction.
10. Climate change is also a justice issue. It is primarily caused by the world’s wealthiest people, but it will first impact the world’s poorest people.
All Egeland’s remarks were informative and provocative. For more on the World Vision Triennial, see my earlier post, A World of Hope.



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Sean

posted September 7, 2007 at 10:47 pm


I’m literally stunned and almost speechless at the bilge printed above. Spoken like a proud blue-helmetted “professional”, like a man who has no sense of his own oafish career, like someone with a gross misinterpretation of recent history and an obnoxious disrespect for the common generous soul, the dull-witted Jan Egeland states “we must be conscious of the quality of our humanitarian work. The vulnerable need to be protected from our own incompetence. This work is no place for amateurs.”
That statement may be the biggest slap in the face of any generous and God-fearing Christian, American religious, mystic or Wiccan I’ve heard this year. If good people can not handle charity work, then one wonders who can. Perhaps it was the “professionals” in the UN who handled the “giving” oil for food scandal so well that billions were siphoned into Swiss, Austrian and Carribbean bank accounts.
The fecklessness of the UN speaks for itself. I have neither the time nor the stomach for it right now.
Despite his ridiculous statement that wealthy nations know how little we give, each generous American knows how much he gives, and I’m sure I could find many interpretations of giving at this second if I so chose to. Maybe the US should withdraw from membership in the UN. Then perhaps Egeland would realize how much WE give.
To answer this column any more would be the equivalent of soiling myself. It is an absurd piece of writing from a preposterous “inspiration”. Even at the end of writing about this, my disconcerted state is no less than when I started. Egeland is nothing more than a buffoon in an extremely expensive suit who is unfit to catch dogs in Denver.
To say that Egeland’s remarks were “informative” or “provocative” could only be true in the negative. They were highly revealing.



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ds0490

posted September 7, 2007 at 11:29 pm


Sean posts: “Despite his ridiculous statement that wealthy nations know how little we give, each generous American knows how much he gives, and I’m sure I could find many interpretations of giving at this second if I so chose to. Maybe the US should withdraw from membership in the UN. Then perhaps Egeland would realize how much WE give.”
According to the lastest US State Department figures, we give approximately $3 billion a year to the various UN agencies.
There are currently just over 301 million people in this country.
That comes down to a sawbuck a person per year.
Now, if I send you $50 to cover your contribution to the UN for the next 5 years, will that make you feel better? Or are you one of those folks who just isn’t happy unless they have something to gripe about?
You want to claim your $50, send an e-mail to me at ds0490@yahoo.com and I’ll send a US Postal Money Order to cover your share. Being a conservative that should make you happy…someone else is offering to pay your share of the load.



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canucklehead

posted September 8, 2007 at 1:35 am


In recent years I was privileged to cross paths several times at conferences featuring Stephen Lewis who at that time was special counsel to Kofi Annan on the African AIDS crisis. In every instance where I heard Lewis dispense fact/study after documented fact/study showing North Americans to be comparatively low on the per capita giving charts, his addresses were met by some with the kind of bluster and obfuscation Sean exhibits above. Get past the huffing and puffing of these blowhards, one seldom finds solid data to refute the claims that have them so hot and bothered.
For starters, Sean, why don’t you check out the record of American pharmaceutical companies when it comes to their willingness to dispense complementary anti-AIDS drug cocktails in places like Africa? It’s tough to be philanthropic when you’ve got to pay the CEOs and the corner-suite gang their millions and billions so they can stay abreast of Billy Bob’s firm whose stock is presently trading higher on the NYSE.
>>>”Despite his ridiculous statement that wealthy nations know how little we give, each generous American knows how much he gives, and I’m sure I could find many interpretations of giving at this second if I so chose to” Sean
We’re all ears.



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History Nut

posted September 8, 2007 at 11:38 am


Are we talking about individual philanthropy or corporate and federal aid? There is a difference, right? I mean we could also calculate how much of our taxes goes to foreign aid and add that on the “sawbuck” per person Americans give. The UN is not the only way Americans contribute.
I don’t know how we could possibly come up with an accurate estimate of the average amount of $ Americans give to international causes, but to limit the criteria to UN or federal spending probably isn’t the whole picture.



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Jeff

posted September 8, 2007 at 12:57 pm


Good point History Nut. After the big Tsunami I watched a news conference/slash interview with world press and leaders. The moderator was determined to make the point that the US was not paying its fair share. She served up what she must of that was a softball question to former Pres. Bill Clinton, opening the door for him to join her. To Clinton’s credit he deferred the question to Senator Frisk (or is it Frist?). He proceeded to list item after item above and beyond US government aid given directly to the Tsunami. The list was impressive. The moderator backed off, though she would throw in an occasional passive aggressive dig at the US.
Jeff



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N.M. Rod

posted September 8, 2007 at 1:03 pm


Unfortunately, a lot of philanthropy is sleight-of-hand corporate tax planning or worse, bureaucratic and self-serving empire-building.
I say this from the perspective of having worked for major United Way agencies, where the people the agencies worked for were the last of their concerns, and got what amounted to lip-service, if that.
I have also served at an executive level at Fortune 500 companies, and the generosity is really designed to maximise publicity and enhance profitability. There are so many financial tricks that can minimise the actual bottom line expenditure.
This doesn’t take into account the number of charitable organisations actually run by con men that also legally take in billions and do nothing.
There are a million excuses – alibis? – but obviously something’s not working.
Telling the truth is indeed the first step.
In all the world, we are among the most masterful practitioners of deceit, lies and manipulation – our way of life involves a thousand small lies bombarding us while awake – and likely we don’t realise just how corrosive it is to our ability to accomplish good because our sense of reality has been so dulled.



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History Nut

posted September 8, 2007 at 1:20 pm


I guess my point is that philanthropy is not solely the activity of large institutions, be they private corporations or public like the gov’t.
Individual giving towards charitable causes is quite high in America – I am thinking of Albert C. Brooks recent work, “Who Really Cares: The Surprising Truth About Compassionate Conservatism” where Brooks (no conservative, by the way) documents the generosity of American individuals.
From the BeliefNet article:
“His book, he says, is carefully documented to withstand the scrutiny of other academics, which he said he encourages.
The book’s basic findings are that conservatives who practice religion, live in traditional nuclear families and reject the notion that the government should engage in income redistribution are the most generous Americans, by any measure.
Conversely, secular liberals who believe fervently in government entitlement programs give far less to charity. They want everyone’s tax dollars to support charitable causes and are reluctant to write checks to those causes, even when governments don’t provide them with enough money.
Such an attitude, he writes, not only shortchanges the nonprofits but also diminishes the positive fallout of giving, including personal health, wealth and happiness for the donor and overall economic growth.
All of this, he said, he backs up with statistical analysis.
“These are not the sort of conclusions I ever thought I would reach when I started looking at charitable giving in graduate school, 10 years ago,” he writes in the introduction. “I have to admit I probably would have hated what I have to say in this book.”
Still, he says it forcefully, pointing out that liberals give less than conservatives in every way imaginable, including volunteer hours and donated blood.”
**Does anyone know if there has been a documented refutation of Brooks’ research? I would be curious know if there is and what that person has to say.



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Jeff

posted September 8, 2007 at 1:37 pm


“This doesn’t take into account the number of charitable organisations actually run by con men that also legally take in billions and do nothing.”
In some cases this is true. But the most reliable charitable groups (Red Cross, Salvation Army)are closely watched. I worked for the Salvation Army fundraiser, volunteer recruiter covering 20 counties. This gave me a seat on many United Way Boards. I can’t tell you what motivated people to give to the United Way or the Salvation Army (I leave judging a man’s heart to God). I do know that the money we raised fed and clothed the poor, funded drug rehab., sent poor kids to camp, helped people in times of natural disasters. I am sure that the Salvation Army can do more with a dollar than the UN can do with 3.
Jeff



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N.M. Rod

posted September 8, 2007 at 2:14 pm


I know that the salaries of the directors and employees and the overhead of maintaining the business offices and infrastructure come first before actually helping those the agency is supposed to serve when there is a shortfall in funding.
I’ve heard this cynical (but real) response to social workers pleading for help for clients with serious disabilities left in the lurch:
“So do you not want to receive your paycheck this week?”
This is the reality at many organised charities.
Is it any wonder that the problems persist without real solution?
I really find it completely stupid, as well, after an exhortation to really solving the problems of our human family together, that it IMMEDIATELY degenerates into an argument of liberals vs. conservatives.
What a lot of self-righteous bilge when instead of getting to action, it’s just ideological wordfare as usual.
And it’s obvious that on a monetary scale alone, without attention to the accountant-fuelled chicanery it can represent, that the wealthy will be far more generous on paper than those with less.
From a Christian standpoint, I recall that Jesus talked about the widow’s mite accomplishing more than the self-congratulatory “generosity” of the charity ball wealthy.
I’m sure the rich man took the maximum allowed write-off for the crumbs that fell to Lazarus
from his table, too. By such a measure that he was the giver, the crumbs were more generous than what Lazarus had to contribute.



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kevin s.

posted September 8, 2007 at 2:20 pm


“I have also served at an executive level at Fortune 500 companies, and the generosity is really designed to maximise publicity and enhance profitability.”
It is a mix of the two at most companies, but I have no problem with publicity and profitability being associated with generosity. Shouldn’t a company that gives generously be recognized for it? Isn’t that better for all involved?
Our congressmen stage press conferences when they sign bills into law that give governmental assistance to this or that. They often receive adulation on sites like Sojourner’s for their generosity (in spending money that is not their own). Why shouldn’t corporations get the same recognition?
“Does anyone know if there has been a documented refutation of Brooks’ research? I would be curious know if there is and what that person has to say.”
The refutations I have heard are along the lines of cost of living differences between liberal states and the midwest. It’s hard to feed the poor when your dropping $4,800 a month on a trendy condo.



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N.M. Rod

posted September 8, 2007 at 2:56 pm


But, Jesus tells us that real generosity is not done with fanfare.
Shouldn’t those genuinely generous receive adulation publicly?
Those genuine would decline it. The others are seeking reward, and they have it. Nothing else is accomplished.
The fine print of the financial statements often shows that the generosity isn’t selfless at all nor even anything other than adding even more to their bottom line.
You have to understand that any number of court decisions right to the Supreme Court level have made it clear that there can be no consideration for anything other than maximising the return to investors, except for actual legal requirements, in a corporation’s actions. There is no other purpose allowed or possible for a publicly-traded corporation. The investors simply wouldn’t stand for it, as it would adversely affect the stock price. As someone else here observed (approvingly), corporations are greedy, because that is their purpose.
I really think it would be helpful that the lady doth not protesteth about her ideology too much whislt dating Gordon Gekko.



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Moderatelad

posted September 8, 2007 at 2:59 pm


Posted by: ds0490 | September 7, 2007 11:29 PM
According to the lastest US State Department figures, we give approximately $3 billion a year to the various UN agencies.’
OK – so the US Gov’t gives $3 Billion to UN Agencies – is that correct? What about John or Jane Q Public that gives to their church – local organizations – national organizatons that do work all around the world for those in poverty. I do not believe that you have those figures in your equasion.
I wish for one week all the churches and all the not-for-profit organizations in the world could disappear and everyone could see the work that these organizations do all over the place. We do not need another gov’t agency Mr Wallis to do this kinda of work. It is about .26 cents that makes it to the person in need for every dollor that the gov’t collects. Most not-for-profits do well over .60 and some do as high as .90 cents.
So if we are looking at effeciency and effectiveness – I would rather give my money to the NFP’s rather than the gov’t or the UN.
8. We must be conscious of the quality of our humanitarian work. The vulnerable need to be protected from our incompetence. This work is no place for amateurs.
This is the UN to a tee! Gee Wallis – we agree on something?
Blessings –
.



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Jeff

posted September 8, 2007 at 3:14 pm


“I know that the salaries of the directors and employees and the overhead of maintaining the business offices and infrastructure come first before actually helping those the agency is supposed to serve when there is a shortfall in funding.”
This is why I give to Convoy of Hope, the Salvation Army and Teen Challenge. Each has a great record in keeping overhead low. Let’s be careful to not broad brush all charitable organizations as corrupt. Very few are corrupt. The first question you should ask a fund raiser is “What percent of my contribution goes directly to the need?”
“So do you not want to receive your paycheck this week?”
“This is the reality at many organised charities.”
Maybe this is true, but I never saw it happen in the Salvation Army. Whenever we had additional needs, we could always raise more money.
Jeff



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Jeff

posted September 8, 2007 at 3:24 pm


8. We must be conscious of the quality of our humanitarian work. The vulnerable need to be protected from our incompetence. This work is no place for amateurs.
Does this mean the UN is gonna subcontract to groups that really know how to do humanitarian work. I have friends who almost starved to death in Liberia during the wars. The UN brought in rice but most of it made it into the market. In other words the starving had to buy the UN supplied rice. This is repeated all around the world. The UN should conclude that feeding the hungry is just something they are never going to be good at and bring in groups that are. Where security is a problem the blue helmets can provide security.
Jeff



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Anonymous

posted September 8, 2007 at 6:01 pm


N.M wrote:
“Unfortunately, a lot of philanthropy is sleight-of-hand corporate tax planning or worse, bureaucratic and self-serving empire-building.
I say this from the perspective of having worked for major United Way agencies, where the people the agencies worked for were the last of their concerns, and got what amounted to lip-service, if that.”
My response:
It’s true that there are inefficient charities out there. Just check out the charitynavigator.org where they analyze how non-profits use their funds. Before giving money to Sierra Club or Sojourners you might want to read their ratings.
But I am not sure what you are arguing for N.M. Rod. Would it be better for us to channel funds for social work and reform through government agencies instead? If gifts to charities are so problematic, would there be some good examples of how alternatives to charities have been a more careful in their use of funds? I know you aren’t against charitable giving and I would love to hear what you consider the best way to go about it.
Also, your reference to Gordon Gekko is a little oblique – I mean who here is saying greed is good? I think the point was we were talking about the fact that there are many ways that the American individual gives money to people in need.



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History Nut

posted September 8, 2007 at 6:04 pm


That last post was me.
History Nut



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kevin s.

posted September 8, 2007 at 7:17 pm


While we’re on the topic, Samaritan’s purse always receives outstanding marks, applying something in the vicinity of 95% of their revenue to their actual work.
To be fair, part of this is simply because they are so large that people default to them whenever they are looking to give after, say, a tsunami. Further, smaller, more niche specific organizations suffer under Charity Navigator’s criteria because their administrative costs tend to be higher as a function of their revenue.



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Paul C. Quillman

posted September 8, 2007 at 8:07 pm


Jeff
I have heard far worse stories of un aid. I know a missionary to Africa, that regularly sees un aid planes on the runway, with the supplies unloaded, and exposed to the elements. If the US military, or a private organization has a plane of supplies, the supplies are not only guarded, but they are protected from the elements with tents, ect. And when the missionary tries to go to the un supplies, espicially when it is a torrential rain, the blue helmets will not let her even pitch a tent to protect the supplies from damage.
We could also look at the Congo (not an isolated incident) among others, and clearly see that the un is useless, inneffective, criminally negligent, and worthless.
What other orginazation in the world is more accepting of communist, socialist, dictators, and terrorist than the un?
Perhaps instead of placing faith in such a corrupt (and I would also add illegal terrorist) organization, why not place our faith in the Gospel? Does not Scripture spell out the means by which relief can be made available to those in great need?
Paul



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Jeff

posted September 8, 2007 at 8:23 pm


Paul,
I generally agree with you. Though when I was in Liberia last March I was more comfortable approaching UN checkpoints than those manned by Liberian police.
Kevin, yes Samaritan’s Purse is another fine example of a great NFC. Just think about what great things these groups could do with a fraction of the money the UN has for aid.
Jeff



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Moderatelad

posted September 8, 2007 at 9:40 pm


I believe that it is the private sector ‘not-for-profit’ organizations that do a better job of getting the help and money to the person in need than the US and UN and their agencies. This is why I would rather give there where more of the donor dollor makes it to the people than have the US or UN fund anything where at best $0.30 of the dollor makes to the person in need.
Blessings –
.



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ds0490

posted September 8, 2007 at 11:23 pm


Funny you folks should mention Samaritan’s Purse. Can someone please show me where they publish their budget? I’ve been all over their website, and I cannot find it.
http://www.samaritanspurse.uk.com/index.asp
See, I can get a lot of sites that tell me how efficient Samaritan’s Purse is, but where are the financials to back up that claim?
For example, the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs publishes an annual report: http://ochaonline.un.org/OchaLinkClick.aspx?link=ocha&docid=1010072
So does the office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights: http://www.ohchr.org/english/about/docs/strategic.pdf
In fact, every agency of the UN publishes a report to the public on how their money is raised and how it is being spent, using standard financial reporting procedures.
Does Samaritan’s Purse do that?
The Salvation Army provides their report here:
http://www.salvationarmyusa.org/usn/www_usn.nsf/0/8EA40BCD3BF8B453802573310068F709/$file/TSA_2007_Annual_AA.pdf
With 12% going to administration and “other” I see that they are not quite as efficient as the High Commissioner’s Office, which reports about 8% of its funding going to administration. But they were better than the 18% of the budget the OCHA spent on this category.
Is it normal procedure for 501(c)3 charities to not publish their financials?



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Moderatelad

posted September 9, 2007 at 8:14 am


Posted by: ds0490 | September 8, 2007 11:23 PM
Somme do publish. I believe that the law state that it must be accessable to the public. I believe they do publish an annual report and you can get an overview of their finances.
Blesssings –
.



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ds0490

posted September 9, 2007 at 8:51 am


Moderatelad…that’s great. Where are the reports? The Salvation Army and every UN agency puts theirs on the web, easily accessible for anyone to see.
Where is Samaritan’s Purse hiding their reports?



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ds0490

posted September 9, 2007 at 8:58 am


I posted the following to Sean: “Now, if I send you $50 to cover your contribution to the UN for the next 5 years, will that make you feel better? Or are you one of those folks who just isn’t happy unless they have something to gripe about?
You want to claim your $50, send an e-mail to me at ds0490@yahoo.com and I’ll send a US Postal Money Order to cover your share. Being a conservative that should make you happy…someone else is offering to pay your share of the load.”
I’m waiting for the e-mail, Sean. As a matter of fact, I’ll DOUBLE the offer. If, as you said in your post, you are so tired of paying for the United Nation’s work, I’ll be happy to send you a postal money order in the amount of $100, the equivalent of ten years of your cost of the UN operations paid for from the US budget.
This will relieve you from the burden of supporting any kind of effort in the UN that you do not agree with. Someone else, namely me, will pay that for you and you can take the $10/year and put it to a cause you find worthy…maybe the Salvation Army or Samaritan’s Purse.
Once again…just drop me an e-mail at ds0490@yahoo.com and we can get that money to you and you can sleep better at night knowing that you are not supporting the UN any longer.



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Anonymous

posted September 9, 2007 at 12:51 pm


ds0490 wrote: “Funny you folks should mention Samaritan’s Purse. Can someone please show me where they publish their budget? I’ve been all over their website, and I cannot find it.”
Hi ds0490 – all it takes is a simple google search to find Samaritans’ Purse annual and financial reports (which is done by an independent auditor). Here’s the link if you need help getting there: http://www.samaritanspurse.org/AnnualReport_Index.asp
I hope you’re not just picking on SP because it is led by religious people who are engaged in behavior that most evangelicals supposedly aren’t interested in – like helping the poor and encouraging justice.
Are you so angry at SP and their “supposed” secrecy because they pose an inconvenient testimony to the shortcomings of claiming only the left is interested in helping the poor?



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Moderatelad

posted September 9, 2007 at 3:07 pm


Posted by: ds0490 | September 9, 2007 8:51 AM
I don’t think that they are hiding them – you just have to dig. I have not looked for them.
Blessings –
.



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Anonymous

posted September 9, 2007 at 4:52 pm


Love these two:
“2. We are not there to administer a crisis, or to manage it and enable people just to survive. Egeland quoted a woman living in a Ugandan refugee camp who said, “You keep us alive, but you haven’t given us life.”
3. We are there to change things, not just to keep people alive. Humanitarian aid cannot become an alibi for moral and political change. ”
Not too thrilled by much else…
Interesting. Samaritan’s Purse pulls in four stars while paying Franklin Graham 354,000. Sojourners gets two stars while paying Jim Wallis 45,000 — granted, Wallis certainly has outside compensation. But still interesting.



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Paul C. Quillman

posted September 9, 2007 at 5:46 pm


ds0490,
Will you extend that offer to someone else who believes that the un is a terrorist organization? If so, I do not want the money to go to me, rather I want that money sent to an orginazation that actually does spread the Gospel in word and deed, indstead of proping up murdering, thug dictators, gives equal fotting to terrorist, dictators, communist, and socialist, as if they are no different than countries that operate by the rule of law.
Paul



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Moderatelad

posted September 9, 2007 at 6:05 pm


Posted by: | September 9, 2007 4:52 PM
‘…pulls in four stars while paying Franklin Graham 354,000. Sojourners gets two stars while paying Jim Wallis 45,000 — granted…’
Graanted – by if you look at what the total budget is for SP and the salery that Franklin gets – its a small percentage compared to For Profit organizations.
Blessings –
.



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Mark P (the Yank)

posted September 9, 2007 at 7:31 pm


PS: The anonymous comment was me.
ds0490, you can send me $100 anytime.



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ds0490

posted September 9, 2007 at 8:19 pm


“Are you so angry at SP and their “supposed” secrecy because they pose an inconvenient testimony to the shortcomings of claiming only the left is interested in helping the poor?”
It’s not anger. It’s just curiosity. Thanks for answering the question.
And I see by their report that 10% of their total expenses are for administrative and fundraising. Better than Salvation Army’s 12%, but not as good as the UNHCR at 8%.
Interesting that approximately $20 million of the expenses attributed to Ministry are tagged as salary (see last page of report).
But no, I do not believe that only the left are interested in feeding the poor. I simply believe that the left can do it as well as the right, and that the supposed advantage that private agencies have vanishes when you look at audited financial reports.



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Jeff

posted September 9, 2007 at 9:10 pm


ds,
I,m sure the refugees in Ivory Coast who are scraping together pennies to BUY UN rice will be real happy to know that the UN got that rice to the matket with only a 10% overhead.
Jeff



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kevin s.

posted September 9, 2007 at 11:33 pm


“Interesting. Samaritan’s Purse pulls in four stars while paying Franklin Graham 354,000. Sojourners gets two stars while paying Jim Wallis 45,000 — granted, Wallis certainly has outside compensation. But still interesting.”
So the person who does a better job gets a better salary? Fascinating. Actually, Wallis leverages his work in Sojo to garner other income, with which fact I have no qualm. Further, Sojo Executives combines to make about $200k.
The President of World Vision makes even a little more than Graham. They are huge organizations, and they are extremely effective.
The ratings are purely based on income and expenses, a tool for people and companies to figure out which organizations give them the biggest bang for the buck. Their job is not to make moral judgments beyond that.



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kevin s.

posted September 9, 2007 at 11:41 pm


To the broader point… The United Nations has raised enough questions about their efficacy and their integrity that it is a bit silly for them to be offering advice to an organization like world vision.



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jurisnaturalist

posted September 9, 2007 at 11:51 pm


“the 2 billion richest people in the world that they have the responsibility to “lift up” the 1 billion still suffering from extreme poverty.”
The first thing wrong with this is the idea that some people have a responsibility to some other people. This might upset you, but I don’t see why. Now, if you’re a Christian, you have a direct mandate from Christ to care for the least of these, but I don’t see how anyone else has a responsibility in this area. Why should I care about the starving kids in Africa? Give me one good reason, with no appeals to altruism. You can’t do it.
As to his other points:
1. The truth is these people are suffering because of their lousy governments. Christians have to speak this truth. But only to each other. Then they need to do something about it.
2. Any aid given without dealing with the institutional problems is only a band-aid, or a fish for a day.
3. I agree here, but I do not find the solution to problems with statist institutions within other statist institutions. The solution must be EXOGENOUS.
4. The international community has gotten involved to the extent that it derives some utility for its involvement. Most of the motivation has been political or guilt driven.
The Christian community has been placated into inaction by adopting an “I gave at the tax office” attitude about the least of these. I pay my taxes, I just don’t expect them to do any good.
5. What kind of protection? If I wanted to protect a woman or a child, guess where I would put them? In MY HOUSE! Right behind a loaded firearm where I keep my wife and kids. The best solution is to move these victims into the houses of willing American Christians. The potential for abuse is there, but which would you choose?
6. I’m curious as to which places he would list as the most neglected and forgotten.
7. If you take from the rich by force and give to the poor, how willing will the rich be to trade openly with those poor in order to perpetuate their growth out of poverty?
He’s right about how little governments give to foreign aid, and I’m glad. Now, the Church needs to step up and fill the void.
8. Excellent point. To hire qualified people to work in humanitarian capacities they must be paid well. Otherwise you get gobs of goo-dooders looking for photo-ops and little work done. What’s needed is cash, and someplace to put the people. My money and my house. Your money and your house. Not the government’s money and a FEMA trailer.
9. Wrong wrong wrong. We need to get small arms into the hands of mothers and elderly men in sufficient numbers to keep the warlords away.
10. Climate change…. that’s for another post.
Nathanael Snow



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Amazon Creek

posted September 10, 2007 at 1:43 am


Well…I don’t always have a positive view of the UN. And the tone of the article did annoy me in a few places. But…what I’ll choose to take away from this article are some good reminders that God’s Word would back up.
Sorry, folks, but afraid I’m not much of an idealogue. I’m a problem-solver who would mix-n-match ideas from many different sources and schools of thought. I know that frustrates the purists. But…I’ll leave the debates about which ideology is best to those types.
And what I’ll take from the article are some good principles that God’s Word would also advise me:
1. Tell the truth about the situation and who is responsible for it – even if it’s offending powerful people. Good principle – Jesus did that! May the Lord always give us the strength to do likewise.
2. Don’t just throw solutions at situations, until you’ve prayed and sought God’s guidance about what the problem actually is. Seeking God’s wisdom would be a good starting place.
3. Think long-range. Don’t just give out band-aid solutions when surgery and therapy are needed. Ouch! We can all do that at times, can’t we? I know I can, and sometimes do. Hmmmm…more prayer and seeking wisdom?



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Larry Steinbrecher

posted September 10, 2007 at 1:50 am


I don’t think all of this is as complicated as some of you want to make. Just because you can write a fairly good article dosen’t mean you can think. Get your Bible out and read about the “sheep and the goats”. Thats all the history you need to know. Many of you long winded goons are doomed to the trap of you drunken egos. Good luck in the future when you meet God and have to answer for you ignorant tirades. In the meanwhile, try living and thinking like you do without chemical crutches! It can’t be done. I’ve tried it. But now that I have 31+ years of continuous sobriety I am beginning to see through the haze of my selfish ways. It ain’t just about me. Soon you will all face the end. What will be your legacy?



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Jeff

posted September 10, 2007 at 8:00 am


Larry,
Congrats on your 31 years of sobriety. I can only speak for myself and say that my frustration with the UN ineffectiveness has come out of my own work with the poor. I have the same frustration with the US government. Our church supports ministries that are much effective in helping the same hurting people these giants can’t seem to help. We see the billions of dollars in their budgets and don’t see them making a comparable difference.
Teen Challenge is an example. They help bring people to sobriety. Their success rate is something like 80% for those who finish the program. The governments success rate is something like 20%.
God Bless you Larry as you continue your clean life.



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Moderatelad

posted September 10, 2007 at 4:20 pm


looking for a new article but seeing none for today –
Prayers were offered for our service personnel all around the world. Safety and victory in Iraq so that they can come home soon.
Blessings to all –
.



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Sean

posted September 10, 2007 at 7:25 pm


Aside from the feckless personal attacks at me, intentionally mis-characterizing my motives (the 50 bucks I supposedly give the UN), my greed or anything else, which was a churlish and infantile thing to do, I find my point stands.
The UN is not at all better than Americans in “giving” and the concept of “professionals” is just silly. We have it from the mouths of true professionals here about the SA, the Red Cross, Catholic Services organizations.
The UN is the embodiment of bureaucracy and little else.



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Ted Voth Jr

posted September 10, 2007 at 10:09 pm


The ‘fecklessness’ (ineffectiveness) of the UN is a direct resullt of the US’ failure to make its allotted share of contributions to the UN, carefully orchestrated by the cynical, greedy corporate masters of our government to keep the UN ‘barefoot and pregnant.’ and impotent to effect its appointed task, which the corporations find inconvenintly limiting of their depredations.
(Incidentally, Sojourners, & al, the most urgent– not the greatest nor the most crucial, but the most urgent issue for us in the US is the impeachment of Cheney and Bush.
All the issues are One Issue, and the unifying theme is oil.)
Sorry, Sean;
Love,
TV2



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canucklehead

posted September 11, 2007 at 1:09 am


>>>”The UN is the embodiment of bureaucracy and little else.” Sean
Are we permitted to laugh out loud on this blog?



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Payshun

posted September 11, 2007 at 3:04 am


The UN is the embodiment of bureaucracy and little else.
Me:
I will remember that when I think of UNICEF, UNHCR, the International Fund for Agricultural Development, UNESCO and a host of other agencies that actually do their jobs. Is the UN perfect? Hell no.
But is it worse than us? No. I always find it odd that so many of my fellow Americans criticize the UN but ignore criticizing their own nation for doing the same thing. I really wish folks in glass houses would not throw stones.
p



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Donny

posted September 11, 2007 at 7:23 am


Christians are the answer. If not outlwaed, harassed and killed, the many, many Christian help organizations could ease the suffering of so many poor than they already do. But alas, the Christians are stopped in many places by Islamic Jihadists, European Humanists and US Democrat Liberals.



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you kill me

posted September 11, 2007 at 8:32 am


to all the rabid anti-UN’ers:
perhaps you missed this part of the post: “which I believe are helpful to any organization or group seeking to relieve human pain and suffering”.
one wonders whether you read anything past “former U.N. under-secretary-general”…



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you kill me

posted September 11, 2007 at 8:45 am


“The first thing wrong with this is the idea that some people have a responsibility to some other people. This might upset you, but I don’t see why. Now, if you’re a Christian, you have a direct mandate from Christ to care for the least of these, but I don’t see how anyone else has a responsibility in this area. Why should I care about the starving kids in Africa? Give me one good reason, with no appeals to altruism. You can’t do it.”
i love this argument – we’re all “separation of church and state!” when it comes to our pocketbooks but a man wants to marry another man, and suddenly “we’re a christian nation!”.
oh the hypocrisy of free market christianity…



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jurisnaturalist

posted September 11, 2007 at 9:59 am


you kill me,
I’m all for abandoning secular sanctions of marriage. Let each church sanction whichever marriages they please, but by all means remove the privilege of marriage contract for any. Why should single and married individuals be differentiated by the state? To what end?
Put an end to all legal privilege.
Perhaps I am one of the few who maintains a consistency in this area, and so I empathize with your exasperation.
NS



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Rick Nowlin

posted September 11, 2007 at 12:26 pm


Why should I care about the starving kids in Africa? Give me one good reason, with no appeals to altruism. You can’t do it.
Suppose, with the right access to education and a few other breaks, one of those formerly-starving African kids finds the cure for AIDS, becomes the continent’s answer to Billy Graham or otherwise changes the world. Yes, you may ultimately benefit from it.
If you take from the rich by force and give to the poor, how willing will the rich be to trade openly with those poor in order to perpetuate their growth out of poverty?
They never were in the first place, because if you want to make money you deal with the people who already have it. There’s a reason why, say, retail stores almost never build in poor neighborhoods and the ones that do exist in many cases end up closing shop.
We need to get small arms into the hands of mothers and elderly men in sufficient numbers to keep the warlords away.
And thus the criminals will know where to go looking for arms — they always have the bigger weapons anyway.
But alas, the Christians are stopped in many places by Islamic Jihadists, European Humanists and US Democrat Liberals.
Maybe because the “Christians” were too busy trying to shove their views down everyone’s throat.



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jurisnaturalist

posted September 11, 2007 at 12:52 pm


Rick,
Good point. I should have further qualified my statement. With no appeals to altruism OR self-interestedness.
You see, people acting in self-interest is completely rational, and I am willing to accept that we ought to expect unbelievers to act in this way. But often appeals are made to the unbeliever to behave a certain way merely out of moral compunction. Just because you OUGHT to.
Why should I give to someone from whom the expected future returns to myself are zero or negative? These are the least of these. Giving to these is purely Unselfish. It is pure virtue. It is these whom we are expected to give to. it is these the state pretends to be most concerned about. But there exists no rationale for giving to those who have no potential to benefit you in the future.
As believers we give to these because they are valuable to our Lord, and we perceive giving to them as though we were giving to Him. There exists a mandate to action for believers. But the same action would be irrational and thus morally repugnant if performed by an unbeliever. It would be devoid of virtue. And to force an unbeliever, or to try to persuade one that they should act in such a way though they be not regenerated is to further burden them with law and guilt. Also, it is to shirk the unique and exclusive responsibility which has been delivered to the church.
2. The rich get richer by satisfying the needs of as many people as possible and making them better off. I’m speaking theoretically here, assuming that corporations are given no political favors and there is no monopoly power which enables firms to collect rents from consumers (though there remains a consumer surplus even in this respect or else the transaction would not occur), and where fraud is always detected and prosecuted. The only way to develop wealth is to meet the self-interest of others. In so doing both parties gain, and though one may gain more than another, both are satisfied by the transaction. Force is altogether absent from this relationship.
By taking from the rich and giving to the poor, the rich then must earn back the wealth that was taken from them previously, and having less capital would be less efficient in their production. As a result their costs will be higher, they will produce less, prices will be higher, and fewer of the poor will have access to goods at low prices. Everyone is worse off.
3. Guns. If the bad guy has a gun, and no good guys have guns, lots of people die. If the bad guy has a gun and any good guys have a gun only two people die. I mostly want to keep my guns because I don’t trust the government. Where civilians own guns people are more free, and warlords have less power. This is empirically true the world over. Altruism can’t change that.
NS



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you kill me

posted September 11, 2007 at 2:03 pm


“I’m all for abandoning secular sanctions of marriage”
fair enough, juris – consistency is all i can ask for…
“But the same action would be irrational and thus morally repugnant if performed by an unbeliever.”
i know atheists who are more christ-like in their pure love of others than any christian i’ve known. if your argument is correct, why *do* we see pure acts of love committed by people who are not believers? do you suggest that these do not exist, or are without exception performed with some kind of self-serving intent? why are so many unbelievers heavily involved in social justice movements, charitable organizations, loving relationships, etc?



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Moderatelad

posted September 11, 2007 at 3:03 pm


Posted by: you kill me | September 11, 2007 2:03 PM
why are so many unbelievers heavily involved in social justice movements, charitable organizations, loving relationships, etc?
What do you base this on? I see so many churches that are working locally and internationally for justice – chartiy – love as well as spreading the Good News. So few mission organizations are sending out only those who ‘preach the word’ as they send out what I call ‘tent makers’. Those who bring the area they believe God is calling them to – education, medical, housing, etc.
Blessings!
.



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canucklehead

posted September 11, 2007 at 3:14 pm


…”Christians are the answer.” Donny
Sorry, Donny, as this blog demonstrates only too well on a daily basis, Christians are NOT the answer.
At the risk of being simplistic, Jesus is the answer!



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Moderatelad

posted September 11, 2007 at 4:03 pm


Posted by: canucklehead | September 11, 2007 3:14 PM
Jesus is the answer!
Preach it brother! I do believe that most of the people on this site would agree with you.
Blessings –
.



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you kill me

posted September 11, 2007 at 4:30 pm


moderatelad asked:
“What do you base this on? I see so many churches that are working locally and internationally for justice – chartiy – love as well as spreading the Good News.”
moderatelad, i think you misread my statement – i never said that churches are not doing these things – of course many churches and christian individuals are doing wonderful things for social justice. i was simply trying to refute the claim that *only* christians are motivated to loving and caring for their neighbor. i’ve witnessed wonderful, loving *nonbelievers* doing wonderful, loving things for their neighbor and more broadly for social justice, etc. perhaps this is their path to faith – would that be so strange?



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jurisnaturalist

posted September 11, 2007 at 4:55 pm


you kill me, moderatelad, all,
“why do we see pure acts of love committed by people who are not believers?”
I count these as instances of common grace reaching through. These individuals are acting irrationally, and are not self-consistent. Not that they care about that, most don’t, neither do most Christians.
I also think that guilt motivates many of these actions, by believers and Christians. They feel like personal sacrifice may absolve them of something they did wrong. Some are trying to buy relationships. These are self-interested motives at the root, though ineffectual. These are also inappropriate motives for believers.
Virtuous action is taken in response to the call of Christ, the direction of the Holy Spirit, in imitation of Him. It is not done with a reward in mind. If we are believers we are going to be with Him. He is our reward. We don’t need more reward. We act in response to Him. If we act in such a way as to receive a reward or praise from men, our action is devoid of virtue. This does not mean it does not produce good consequences. Action performed out of self-interest without violating others’ rights derives the gains from trade which bring about earthly prosperity. This also is good, just not virtuous.
NS



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Anonymous

posted September 11, 2007 at 4:58 pm


The only way to develop wealth is to meet the self-interest of others. In so doing both parties gain, and though one may gain more than another, both are satisfied by the transaction.
This sounds good, except that people, in their “naturalness,” often seek their own welfare
at the expense of others. It’s a major component of the Christian doctrine of “sin.” That leads to another issue, which is part of the reason this blog exists — “justice.”
By taking from the rich and giving to the poor, the rich then must earn back the wealth that was taken from them previously, and having less capital would be less efficient in their production. As a result their costs will be higher, they will produce less, prices will be higher, and fewer of the poor will have access to goods at low prices. Everyone is worse off.
That assumes one thing: That the rich will reinvest in their businesses; this theory was a justification for “supply-side economics.” In practice, however, the wage and benefit concessions that business demanded and often received in the 1980s went into buying more, profitable companies, which had the effect of shrinking the workforce — just the opposite — but which made more profit. Put another way, ecomonic prosperity doesn’t trickle down but, as one cynic put it, “trickles up.”
Where civilians own guns people are more free, and warlords have less power.
You haven’t been in my former neighborhood or in the one where I attend church, or perhaps in many major cities. There many, many “law-abiding” people pack heat but still occasionally get shot — and not necessarily by the cops! You assume that people will be “disciplined” into compliance; I find that a bit naive.
Jesus is the answer!
Sorry, but no, he isn’t — He is the Question, through which everything must be sifted. Ask the right questions and you’ll get the right answers. We shouldn’t end but start with Him.



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Annie (Uk)

posted September 12, 2007 at 6:13 pm


Christians are the answer. If not outlwaed, harassed and killed, the many, many Christian help organizations could ease the suffering of so many poor than they already do. But alas, the Christians are stopped in many places by Islamic Jihadists, European Humanists and US Democrat Liberals.
Posted by: Donny | September 11, 2007 7:23 AM
Sadly while many Christian relief organisations do outstanding work,the arrogant and judgemental attitude of certain Christians themselves are often a tremendous stumbling block to non-believers and those of other Faiths.



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