I've been reading, here and there and in other places too, discussions of whether the monetary aid that Mr. Bush proposes to send to the tsunami-devastated southwest Pacific is adequate or not. From my viewpoint, it's an unnecessary sort of question.
If we actually lived in the constitutional republic in which we pretend to live, we would know that the appropriate amount of aid for Washington to send is zero. Not simply because Washington is broke, hopelessly in debt, adding to it every day, and in fact has no aid to send. That reason would be sufficient, but is not the fundamental reason. The real reason is that the Constitution does not empower the federal government to aid disaster victims, either within the U.S. or outside of it.
If we lived in a constitutional republic, it might well be that each and every one of the fifty states would undertake aid (or not, as their various state constitutions provided). It might also be that Americans would respond generously as individuals, as congregations, as service clubs and organizations, or in other voluntary ways. Certainly, they would have much more money with which to respond, since a constitutional government would not consume more than a percent or so of what the giant malignancy that rules us from D.C. now does.
But we don't live in a constitutional republic; the constitution is a dead letter. So, on with the argument. I'll fall back to: zero, because we're broke and have nothing to share.