Strong opinions, weakly held

On donating to Japan

Felix Salmon makes a logical argument that you shouldn’t donate to Japan. He argues that earmarking funds for specific disasters prevents them from being used most efficiently, and that Japan is better equipped to deal with this disaster than most countries that suffer a major disaster. Tyler Cowen disagrees, arguing that donating to Japan affirms our friendship with that country, and that you probably won’t make a donation to someone else instead, anyway, and that donating to Japan is better than the non-donation you’ll probably make. I’d argue that the best compromise is to donate to a charity that provides disaster relief, like the Red Cross, Red Cross, but not restrict the donation to disaster relief for Japan. (That’s what Felix Salmon recommends as well.) So if you are moved to donate by this disaster, please do so, but donate wisely.


  1. Seeing as how we’re an international culture, really, I’ve been sending care packages to friends in Japan. That’s the other donation strategy. Perhaps a little selfish from a certain standpoint, but on the other, I know my donations are going where they’ll do some good. 100%, no middlemen.

  2. huh. I’d think either they’re somewhere affected, in which case mail is unlikely to reach them, or someplace unaffected, in which case, why do they need a care package?

    Japan is a big (at least, long) country, and only a section of it was hit by all this planetary business…

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