Friday, March 24, 2006

Charitable Malfeasance

Private charities enjoy a high status and little criticism, until things go south quick and deep; and then people take notice. But big disasters boost problems that are already rooted in private charities, which tend not to be checked and balanced until something goes terribly wrong or big people get busted. And so goes the charity news this week:
  • According to the New York Times, the Red Cross has only received 60% of the $3.6 billion that Americans donated for hurricane Katrina relief. Thanks to horribly lax leadership, managers who discouraged whistle blowers, and generally bad-seed volunteers, the other 40% is simply gone. The Red Cross may be headed for a federal investigation. It's about time.
  • According to ABC (and originally the Houston Chonicle), the Bush family is getting in on charitable malfeasance. Barbara Bush (the president's mother) gave relief money to a Katrina/Wilma relief fund on the condition that it be spent to buy educational software from her son Neil's company, "Ignite! Learning," which is home of a contraption called "The Cow." "The Cow" appears to be designed to prepare students for standardized tests. This is not the first time the Bushs have been in a conflict-of-interest snarl in Houston over private donations and "The Cow," reports ABC.
Perhaps we are too charitable to charities.

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