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article imageOp-Ed: Two lessons from the Philippines disaster

By Alexander Baron     Dec 14, 2013 in Politics
If the world is going through a severe period of austerity, how can we afford to aid the Philippines? There is a simple answer.
With the death toll now over 6,000 and likely to rise still further, and with devastation on an unimaginable scale, Typhoon Haiyan may have shown us yet again that Mother Nature is the Mistress of us all, but it has also shown us that when the chips are down, like really down, people will rally round to help those in need.
The Israeli Defence Force is known less for its humanitarian work than for doing unmentionable things to Palestinians, but look what it did here.
Meanwhile, in the other corner we have the Iranian Red Crescent which sent 40 tonnes of aid to begin with. For a country on the other side of the world, the UK turned in an impressive effort, and the "Imperialist" Yankees have also done their share. This is the first lesson.
Granted there is a lot more still to be done, now about that austerity.
This is the second lesson, austerity is a state of mind, at least as far as governments are concerned. They may plead poverty, but there are always three exceptions to this rule. In this order they are war: however strapped for cash a government may be, it can always find money for war. The First World War was fought and won by a bankrupt nation.
The second exception is law and order; however strapped for cash any government may be, there will always be enough money to put an accused on trial and in the event of conviction to lock him up, even when there are thousands of offenders, as in the riots of August 2011.
The third exception is disaster with a capital D.
If the coming together of not only the world but bitter enemies to tackle a problem of this magnitude restores your faith in human nature, then the behaviour of our rulers kind of restores your faith in governments too. There is no kowtowing to the banksters, no saying we can't do this or that, they simply marshall the resources and go ahead and do it. They also tell the banks to write off certain debts, and the banks obey. We saw this with the Haitian earthquake, and we have seen it before, the politicians tell the banks to cancel the debt, and the banks do so, probably fearing public outrage if they don't.
This begs the question, why is there rising homelessness in the UK, why is there poverty amidst plenty, including in the US, and why is Greece currently debating cuts to its healthcare system?
If you are in agreement with point one above, you know the answer to that question already.
This opinion article was written by an independent writer. The opinions and views expressed herein are those of the author and are not necessarily intended to reflect those of
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