Letter to the Editor

Thursday, February 24, 2011 at 10:05pm

As chairman of local charity Desana Inc., I feel blessed that I am able to help those less fortunate, both here in America and around the world. To me, this is what true American leadership is: providing a helping hand, so that the world’s poorest can live free from the preventable grips of AIDS, hunger and extreme poverty.

But this may all change. 

Over the next two weeks, the U.S. Senate will decide — in its discussion involving international relief budgeting — whether it is worth 40 cents a day to help a mother with HIV live a healthy, normal life; or whether it is worth a $10 bed net for a child to sleep free from the threat of a malaria-carrying mosquito’s bite. I’m going to let Sen. Bob Corker (who sits on the Senate Foreign Affairs Committee) know that to answer “no” to these types of questions is to undermine what America does best — helping others help themselves. I hope others will do the same.  

There are many ways to cut the budget — and I agree it must be done. But for less than 1 percent of our federal budget, we can continue saving and improving the lives of the millions who live on less than $1.25 a day in places like Africa. Let’s lower the deficit in a way that actually makes sense, not in a way that withholds medicines and costs lives. 

George Houk

Nashville  37211 

Filed under: City Voices

39 Comments on this post:

By: dargent7 on 2/25/11 at 5:22

Incredible, great work, George.
But, the US is spending $2. billion a week in Afghanistan on the "war on terror". 10 years after 9/11, we're still trying to find bin Laden.
America's priorities are always ass-backwards.
Why? I have no idea.

By: yogiman on 2/25/11 at 6:35

Why should the US be considered the charity provider of the world? All nations have 'leaders'. Why aren't those 'leaders' helping their own?

The US has offered knowledge on many facts of life through its history but so many foreign leaders seem to think; 'Why learn to help ourselves when American will provide for us'.

The 'leaders' of the 'poor' countries seem to be rather wealthy even when their citizens are so poor.

I agree with helping a friendly neighbor, but the neighbor should be working toward helping themselves.

By: Captain Nemo on 2/25/11 at 6:47

Good morning

By: Captain Nemo on 2/25/11 at 6:48

A little learning is a dangerous thing, but a lot of yogiman smarts is just as bad. ~Bob Edwards

By: Kosh III on 2/25/11 at 6:56

I agree that our priorities are wrong: billions for oil wars, a growing American Empire. We should pull out of Saudi Arabia, NATO, Iraq, Afghanistan, Latin America, Korea, Japan etc etc.
But aren't we a "Chrisitan" nation? I hear that all the time from Yogi and the reich-wingers. We should be doing humanitarian work with other countries: feed the hungry, tend the sick, help the helpless, support the widows and orphans, visit the prisoners. These are all things Christ commanded that his followers do.

By: bfra on 2/25/11 at 6:57

Mornin' Nemo - Where's the sunrise in this dreary, rainy weather? lol

Your quote is on point!

By: Kosh III on 2/25/11 at 6:57

Yogi: "Why should the US be considered the charity provider of the world?"

"faith, hope and charity, but the greatest of these is charity." Saul of Tarsus

By: bfra on 2/25/11 at 7:01

We should be doing humanitarian work with other countries: feed the hungry, tend the sick, help the helpless, support the widows and orphans, visit the prisoners. These are all things Christ commanded that his followers do.

I would much rather see our Country supporting these things, instead of throwing good money after bad, supporting all the wars. However, we could start, here at home, as there are so many in need, in our own Country.

By: Blanketnazi2 on 2/25/11 at 7:05

Also, humanitarian work helps keep certain countries stable and less likely for a coup or riots. We do it for our own self interests in some cases.

By: Blanketnazi2 on 2/25/11 at 7:07

yeah, it is ironic that those who insist we are and should be a "christian" nation are the first ones to want those outside our borders (and INSIDE our borders) fend for themselves. hypocrits.

By: Loner on 2/25/11 at 7:07

Good morning, Nashville.

This LTE is short and to the point. I agree with the author's arguments.

Sadly, the top recipient of US foreign aid is a nation that is relatively wealthy and doesn't really need the money - over three billion dollars per year. That nation is "numero uno", because of a 60 year-old guilt complex and because of fear of what might happen, if the aid is suddenly curtailed. The aid money given to this recipient nation is supposed to make the US more secure. I won't mention the name of that country....you can Google it.

US aid to Africa, on the other hand, where centuries of colonialism exploited the land and scarred its people, is not nearly so generous. Some claim that there is a racist component to how the US distributes its foreign aid. The facts speak for themselves, our aid is faith and race based and it is given with our own selfish interests in mind.

By: Blanketnazi2 on 2/25/11 at 7:08

you got that right, Loner!

TGIF, everone.

By: Loner on 2/25/11 at 7:10

BN, seems like we are channeling each other this morning...it's the selfish motives that drive our policy...we should be honest about it...this ain't guvmint charity....this is a special interest shakedown.

By: Blanketnazi2 on 2/25/11 at 7:13

yep. we cloak it as "charity" when we're really using bargaining chips. we are the United Corporations of America. if it ain't money driven, we ain't doin' it. right? oh, and we can brag about being good "christians" when we do it. no wonder so many folks globally think the U.S. is full of arrogant idiots.

By: Blanketnazi2 on 2/25/11 at 7:16

btw, Mr. Houk - thank you for the work you do.

By: bfra on 2/25/11 at 7:20

Mornin' Blanket - Good to see your comments, again.

By: Loner on 2/25/11 at 7:21

Keeping with this topic, Eric Cantor, the new House Majority Leader is proposing that aid to "Numero Uno" be removed from the State Department's foreign aid budget and placed in the Defense Budget...from State to Defense. It is a very clever scheme and I suspect that it will be adopted. The aid to the nation in question would be more concealed and elevated in priority...the allotment would surely increase yearly.

Remember, that nation pays no US taxation, but it controls folks like Eric Cantor, to obtain full representation.

Representation without Taxation? For a state outside our union of states? The American Founders would be dumbfounded to witness this situation.

Meanwhile HIV and AIDS is wiping out millions of black Africans and Uncle Sam donates chump change to the cause.

By: Captain Nemo on 2/25/11 at 7:25

Sorry bfra and the rest of you. I hope this make it better.


By: bfra on 2/25/11 at 7:31

Nemo - Now it seems like morning! lol

By: Captain Nemo on 2/25/11 at 7:32


By: Kosh III on 2/25/11 at 7:35

Is that kinda like how the State Dept spends 6 billion on Iraq alone each year. Disgusting.

By: Captain Nemo on 2/25/11 at 7:38

This came in late and I thought I should pass it on for you to see.

By: nourider on 2/24/11 at 4:55
If you want to see what a non union shop looks like, ask the family of a dead Massey miner.

By: yogiman on 2/25/11 at 7:54

What is charity? If I gave the minimum suggested in each solicitation I receive in the mail each day, I would be broke. I would not be able to eat nor have a home to sleep in. Do we give to all charities? Should we support the world? How much of your wealth do you give? Do you go hungry so others can eat?

That may be a case in our state of depression now. It happened in my childhood.

Now, I question; where did they get my name and address? These 'charities' sell them to each other.

Yes, I give, when I feel I should.

By: Captain Nemo on 2/25/11 at 7:56

“Ignorance is innocence - stupidity comes with experience and yogiman.”

By: Antisocialite on 2/25/11 at 8:00

Well aren't we having one big circle jerk this morning!


In all seriousness though, is it any wonder there is a racial component to our foreign policy decisions? Hell, even our domestic policies are still grounded in white male supremacy. Just look at where so many of the conservatives 'budget cuts' are coming from... women and children's services, welfare programs (which go disproportionately to poor working single mothers BTW), and other programs for disadvantaged citizens, like the homeless, and mentally handicapped (handicapable? Sorry, I couldn't resist). Yet touching the tax cuts for the wealthiest Americans is somehow a sacred cow... please, supply-side economics, trickle down economics, Reaganomics, voodoo economics, or whatever you want to call it has been proven ineffective, and even severely detrimental to the country. And that's just the 'fiscal conservatives,' the neo-cons, who believe that nation building on borrowed money from China is a good idea, while simultaneously sacrificing our fundamental rights at home in the name of 'security' are the ones who really make me sick.

/end rant

By: house_of_pain on 2/25/11 at 8:09

TGIF, Blanket.

By: Captain Nemo on 2/25/11 at 8:13

This was sent to me last night.

Fox News these two words still make me laugh when said togethers.


By: bfra on 2/25/11 at 8:19

Nemo - Touchy subject, but Karl's picks have lied on resumes, they get a hand smack, told now you redo that and continue as usual. Ironic!

By: Captain Nemo on 2/25/11 at 8:25

As rants goes Antiso and Loner’s are among the best.

By: Captain Nemo on 2/25/11 at 8:27

I am cut to the core, bfra. lol

By: Antisocialite on 2/25/11 at 8:46

yogiman said:
Yes, I give, when I feel I should.

As I've become fond of saying on these forums whenever people make completely uninformed comments on things which they have done virtually no research on.

What you feel, believe, or imagine to be has absolutely no bearing on the reality of the issue or situation at hand.

The sad truth is that annual per capita charity giving would have to increase tenfold, or possibly more now (since the article I am basing this on I read several years ago) to make up for the governments share of charity, in the form of welfare, etc. I find this to be unrealistic considering that, as is, those making over $75,000 per year in this country give less, as a percentage of income, than those earning less than $25,000 (http://www.nytimes.com/2010/08/22/magazine/22FOB-wwln-t.html). However, because the rich still donate more in absolute dollars, there a serious mismatch between charitable donations and allocations. Only about 10 percent (this stat is about ten years old, but if it has changed it hasn't been by much) of charitable contributions are specifically directed to the poor. This is because people usually only give charity to things that directly affect them or appeal to them in some way (there are numerous studies on this habit). In other words poorer people give to 'poor charities,' that help with causes like soup kitchens, goodwill, homeless shelters, because some of them can see themselves possibly needing those services, or even having used those services in the past. The same concept also applies to more well-off people, they tend to donate more to the arts and sciences because they are more appealing and personally rewarding, considering the lifestyle they have... poverty is certainly not an immediate concern to many people of this income level, so it is 'out of sight, out of mind.'

By: Captain Nemo on 2/25/11 at 8:54


When it happen to someone else it is their fault, but when it happens to oneself it is a catastrophe and then they think charities are a good thing.

By: gid on 2/25/11 at 9:03

we cant even help our own citizens out (homeless, etc, etc) yet we spend Billions to Countries like Egypt.
Can we focus on the USA first for a change?

By: Captain Nemo on 2/25/11 at 9:13

See you all and I hope yogi is not too hard on my while I am not here.

By: Loner on 2/25/11 at 12:27

I've been out on the road...it's snowing hard and steady.

This is a lake effect event; winds out of the North whip across unfrozen Lake Ontario and pick up additional moisture, which translates into unpredictable snow belts.

I got caught in one this morning....near white-out conditions. The plows were temporarily overwhelmed. The roads were like a waxed shuffle board at the intersections. You go gingerly, very gingerly.

By: yogiman on 2/25/11 at 1:01

Ain't you got no snowmobile?

By: DREIFMA on 2/25/11 at 1:55

Saul of Taursus was also an ascetic that said not to have sex, that the God was coming soon and so we didnt need to reproduce and sex other than that was evil. He also encourage that the Polytheistic temples and their works should be destroyed taking with them the wisdom of the ages and contributing to the terrible dark ages that followed. We keep pouring our treasure down on these people with no change. A definition of insanity is doing the same things over and over again and expecting a different result.

By: brrrrk on 2/25/11 at 2:31


"Saul of Taursus was also an ascetic that said not to have sex, that the God was coming soon and so we didnt need to reproduce and sex other than that was evil."

Good thing not everyone listened to that crazy Saul. If we would have all followed him there would be no one left on the planet. Just curious, was he in any way related to Glenn Beck?

By: brrrrk on 2/25/11 at 2:33

Glenn Beck, a.k.a. Saul of Chalkboard.