I’ve had this CNN interview kicking around on my desk for a few days now and didn’t get to it because it’s one of those articles that makes me want to scream and write a treatise about. And, I’m too lazy for a treatise. So, just to get it out to you before it’s really old news (even though its the same old song and dance from the volags), here it is.
George Rupp, the moneybags CEO of the International Rescue Committee was interviewed by Joe Sterling of CNN about “reforming” the Refugee Program as part of the PR campaign I told you about here. As always, the only reform the Top Ten Volags want to discuss is MONEY, MONEY, MORE MONEY, GIVE US YOUR MONEY! They are hopeful that Obama is going to give them their (our) money, and why not, Obama is giving money away to all comers these days.
After a lament about struggling Iraqi refugees comes this segment of the interview:
Sterling: There was a meeting in March of several resettlement agencies. They came out with a joint statement [Anyone have the statement?] calling for reform of the refugee law. What do you think the government and lawmakers should be doing?
Rupp: Basically, the problem of Iraqi refugees in this economic climate only highlights the deficiencies in the overall organization and structure of resettling refugees in this country. Over the last 30 years, the funding for the refugee resettlement programs has dramatically declined in terms of any correlation with the cost of living. It is completely inadequate funding. It works only if refugees can find work virtually immediately.
What we need to do is to revisit the whole way in which the refugee resettlement process is funded and bring it back to the levels it was in the ’70s, when we were resettling Vietnamese refugees. It was very substantially better funded than it is now.
What did I tell you, reform=money, that is all these groups talk about. And, if the program was better funded in the ’70’s (that would be before Uncle Teddy pushed the Refugee Act of 1980 through Congress and these volags got in on the dole), then it was because we didn’t have to pay the fat salaries of the CEO’s of these groups thus making more funds available for refugees. The Vietnamese were basically cared for by individual churches and there were no $400,000 salary and benefit packages for the likes of Mr. Rupp (See my post on corporate humanitarianism here.) How much do you want to bet that the salaries of the fatcats heading these volags has kept up with the “cost of living!”
I have an idea for reorganizing the structure for resettling refugees—get rid of these middlemen volags!
It looks like the days are waning for support from Bring-them-one-and-all-to-Hyannisport (not!) Kennedy and so they are expecting a bailout from Obama when and if Obama gets his act together.
Sterling: Tell me about allies in Washington. Are there folks in Congress and the administration who are focused in on this kind of reform?
Rupp: I would say there are, but it doesn’t have nearly as powerful and consistent a level of advocacy as we’d like. Sen. [Edward] Kennedy has been a stalwart supporter of doing a better job in resettling refugees. The Obama administration in principle acknowledges the problem and wants to do more. At the moment, the Obama administration hasn’t made the crucial appointments. Key positions have not been filled. All signals are the Obama administration takes this seriously, but at this point it’s too early to say because they don’t have the appropriate people in place.
For new readers, the IRC has closed its Boston office and left the refugees there in a lurch, so much for humanitarian love and all that. Maybe the bigwigs that run this organization could have agreed to a reduction in their six-figure salaries to help the poor Iraqis they dropped off in Boston.
Come to think of it, why couldn’t the budget-cutting IRC close its newer Boise office and keep Boston going? But, since Teddy Kennedy is not the Senator from Idaho, and since just maybe he has enough life left in him to put pressure on Obama for more refugee funding, closing that Boise office wouldn’t have caught his eye, Boston surely did.
Now look at that, I’ve gone and written a treatise afterall when I should have been mowing grass (darn, looks like rain any minute!).