Rather than the normal discussions of corporate issues, I thought that today we would pause for a moment and just offer our best wishes to colleagues, friends and family in Japan.
It’s difficult for us to really understand the level of devastation the combination of earthquake and Tsunami have created. Compound this with the ongoing leaks and potential disaster at a nuclear power plant, and you have a truly unique and overwhelming disaster relief problem. However, the disaster in Japan has yet another dimension that has received very little press. Japan has the most elderly population in the world. In the US about 12% of our population is over 65, but in Japan it’s 30%. While there have been scattered stories about the elderly survivors, there has been little to explain how this factors into the current disaster and will affect the future economy of Japan as these retirees pay to rebuild their homes and lives.
Just one last word for today. If you want to contribute to the efforts in Japan, please think about how you want to donate. We need to remember that Japan is a wealthy country. They have very well-funded disaster funds, and the government is spending billions of dollars on aid. There are real problems getting aid into the area due to the damaged roads and radiation concerns. And there are always issues of deciding what needs to be done and in what order. But money is not a problem, at least not at this time. From the Haiti crisis, we learned that funds created for a specific disaster are often very restricted, usually because we want it to be specific. When we donate for a specific cause, we want some assurance that this is where our money will be spent. When a disaster suddenly strikes in a new location, your fund may not be able accessible for this effort. Instead, the conditions of your donation may require that the money is spent on something far less essential. If you are planning on donating, please give this some thought. Do you want the money to be spent in Japan, or do you want it to be spent where that charity believes the need is the greatest.