Alpine Summit

Wednesday, September 14, 2005

Popularity Contest

Ankle Biting Pundits has the latest gallup information on Bush's approval ratings. Despite the media's best efforts, his approval rating is going up. His general approval rating is at 46% up from 45% last month. It's low, but not entirely unpopular or condemning. ABP lists the breakdown of who thinks what.

One thing my friend always whined about when I agrued with him was how Bush's popularity kept going down. Well, it's going up now, and I don't think he's really done that much differently. I don't expect the same righteous posturing from my friend anymore; but I'll probably still get it, anyway. I think the difference is actually the slipping grip the media has on public attention. People disapprove when they're interviewed, but then find out 'Bush != Hitler' (for you programmers out there) from such places as the blogosphere, and primary sources on the internet, and change their minds.

One thing I'm happy about is that Bush took responsibility for the failings of the federal government in the Katrina relief effort. Of coure, the NYT (where I read this) spins it that Bush claims the whole thing was his fault when he actually just claims responsibility for his end of the deal.

One thing many people of all colors of political persuasion have pointed out are the failings of the government, at various levels, in reacting to hurricane Katrina. So, who picks up the slack when such things happen? Why, it's the eeeevvvillll kkkapitalist kkkorporations!

The New York Times had an article in the business section today about how corporations from all over the marketplace (biotech, to drug companies, to wal-mart, to banks) are donating money, goods, and services in the Katrina relief.

Amgen, the biotechnology company, is donating $2.5 million to relief efforts, focusing on dialysis and cancer patients. On top of millions of dollars in cash and equipment, General Electric donated a mobile power plant to restore capacity to a fuel transfer station in Louisiana. Emigrant Savings Bank deposited $1,000 into the account of each customer in the areas hardest hit. Employees of Papa John's spent the last week in Biloxi, Miss., in a pizza trailer handing out thousands of six-inch pies.

Employees at many companies are also collectively matching, sometimes surpassing, direct corporate contributions. Even many companies that are geographically removed from the disaster are responding with remarkable largess. Amid all this, it seems that cash donations, especially anything less than $1 million from the largest companies, are considered tight-fisted.

Liberals are always complaining about how they have to take care of themselves. I guess it would be a hassle when they're more busy trying to tell others what they should be doing, but I digress. Anyway, liberals are always wanting more government entitlements and cradle-to-grave handouts. The most recent example of this is perscription drug benefits. Now using the Katrina debacle and social security as models, are perscription drugs really what we want the government to be handling? The public marketplace has done a far better job of this than the government ever could.

Corporations are rising to the challenge out of a spirit of charity but also to burnish their image. The money spent not only redounds in good will but also serves to publicize a company's products or business.

So, not only are they doing this because of a philanthropic motivation, but they're also doing it for public image reasons. When government officials piss off their constituents, they maintain their office until the term expires, and move on. When a company pisses off its customers, it goes out of business. The requirements for companies is far more stringent than for a politician. There was a great picture of Wal-Mart trucks waiting to deliver supplies 3 days after the hurricane. That, to me, is just phenominal and lives up to the "blessing" part of "mixed blessing" I say to describe Wal-Mart.

The sheer volume of donations has been overwhelming. In the last two weeks, Georgia Pacific sent 65 truckloads of consumer goods - toilet paper, paper towels, paper plates, cutlery - to relief organizations, more than three times the amount it sent all last year during hurricane season.

In addition to its $17 million in cash donations to relief agencies, Wal-Mart has shipped more than 100 truckloads of goods - diapers, wipes, toothbrushes, even beds - to the Gulf Coast.

If the pace of corporate donations continues - at $312 million and counting, according to The Chronicle of Philanthropy in Washington - it is likely that the dollars given by businesses will surpass those given after disasters like the Sept. 11 attacks and the Asian tsunami.

"The response has been really quite stunning," said Peter Hero, president of the Community Foundation Silicon Valley in San Jose, Calif. "Even though many of those companies don't have plants or business operations in the South."

Compare this to if we were a socialist (or even communist) society where all profit and wealth was given to the Government for redistribution. There would be no available funds or supplies companies could dip into to pick up the slack the government left blowing in the wind (no pun intended). As a matter of fact, you would have shortages and poverty even without the disaster. Think: USSR and the bread lines.

The government would probably try raping the companies for all the wealth they could squeeze out of them, but end up breaking the backs of the companies in the process and only causing more damage economically. Bottom line: capitalism is awesome, and socialist liberals are once again proven wrong.