A combination of factors that include a lack of a cataclysmic event, slow-building media coverage, and significant government intervention had tempered the philanthropic community’s response during the first several months of the outbreak, according to Mr. Ottenhoff and other experts.
"When you read stories that the American government is sending 3,000 military workers and spending hundreds of millions of dollars, some donors think, ‘Well good, this problem has now been addressed,’" Mr. Ottenhoff said. "Then there are other donors who think, ‘Given all this money, where are the gaps?’ and ‘Maybe we need to hold back a little while and figure out where the funding gaps are before we commit our money.’"Bob Ottenhoff is the director of a group called the Center for Disaster Philanthropy which in my proletarian ignorance, I'd heretofore never known existed. So far, he says, the rate of plutocratic giving to fight a disease wreaking havoc in countries in West Africa has been, to put it euphemistically, downright mean. A relatively modest $50 million from the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, out of its more than $40 billion stash, has been the top donation so far to fight a disease expected to strike more than a million people. First runner-up was the Paul G. Allen Family Foundation, with $9 million to the CDC, $2.8-million to the American Red Cross, and $100,000 in matching funds to Global Giving. The William and Flora Hewlett Foundation gave $5-million to various international health organizations in the fight against Ebola, according to The Chronicle of Philanthropy.
The American Red Cross has only raised $98,000 thus far from individual private donors (in addition to the Allen Foundation's gift) for the treatment and prevention of Ebola. Because, let's face it -- Africa is not as conveniently close as earthquaked Haiti, or flooded New Orleans, or the superstorm-ravaged East Coast of Indispensablistan. It is next to impossible to get self-promoting politicians and celebrities to go to the scene of the action for photo-ops that show them helping in some rebuilding effort. Celebrities in haz-mat suits aren't aesthetic marketing ploys.
And anyway, the media have been bending over backwards to help assure the wealthy that It Can't Happen Here. From the New York Times:
Dr.(CDC director Thomas) Frieden told the president that the C.D.C. had been prepared for an Ebola case in the United States, according to an account of the call distributed by the White House, “and that we have the infrastructure in place to respond safely and effectively.”
The Obama administration was working to prevent a public panic over the case, using social media to describe how Ebola can — and cannot — be transmitted.
“You cannot get Ebola through the air, water or food in the U.S.,” the White House said on Tuesday night in a posting on its official Twitter account. “Ebola can only spread from contact with the blood or body fluids of a person or animal who is sick with or has died from the disease.”
USA! USA! USA! What about the 30-40 million people who remain uninsured, and where even people now receiving expanded Medicaid benefits under Obamacare often can't find a doctor willing to accept their insurance?Another official Twitter posting said, “America has the best doctors and public health infrastructure in the world, and we are prepared to respond to Ebola.”
Was the unidentified man now being treated for Ebola in Dallas initially sent home from the hospital where he sought treatment because of his lack of insurance in a state which is refusing Medicaid expansion? Or was it just the fantastic health infrastructure? No word yet. But if one individual's inability to pay turns out to be the cause of Ebola spreading in the US, then it also might be the impetus to finally enact a true single payer health care system in this country. After all, denial of medical care to people based on their bank accounts and social status will also have an adverse affect on the healthy wealthy who dictate social policy. All the gated communities, all the private security guards, all the private boutique hospital suites with concierge service in the world will not protect them in the horrible event that Ebola (or any other mutated pathogen, for that matter) gets out of control. You can't bribe Ebola.
Meanwhile, our leaders have been doing everything in their power to actually foment a public panic over the "cancer" of ISIS, which before Ebola made its unscripted appearance, was threatening to surge over the Texas border right along with all those hideous hordes of undocumented Illegals, threatening to kill us all in our beds unless we spend trillions on bombs and tanks and drones.
Meanwhile, officials blithely assure us that once it hits the exceptionally rich soil of the Homeland (the preferred new name for USA) Ebola doesn't stand a chance. I guess they never heard the story about how the Black Plague had morphed into two forms (bubonic and pneumonic) -- the first spread by fleas, the other, then-rarer form, by human aerosol droplets. As they say in the pathogenic real estate biz: Mutation, Mutation, Mutation.
As Sophie Delauney, director of Doctors Without Borders, told NPR recently,
"It (the actual reality of the plague) is so horrific, that once you realize how dramatic the situation is, then you just keep thinking about Ebola all the time. But until you make that step, you prefer to get away from it."
The only thing we have to fear are the fear-mongers themselves, who prefer that we think instead about fake terror groups and beheadings. What we really should all be panicking about is the latest outbreak of official ineptitude, pathological denialism, and outright stupidity of government bureaucrats and self-dealing politicians.