Good suggestions from a letter that got sent to the White House:
In the name of mercy and prudence, I'd like President Bush to consider cutting his $40 million dollar inauguration gala in half -- and donating the remaining $20 million to the living victims of the tsunami.
When he calls, here's my suggestions for his cut-back gala:
-Invite half the people on the original list. Ask them to lay their egos aside for a moment and politely tell them that the expense of transporting and feeding them caviar is going toward providing gasoline and food to about a million people whose stomachs are turning inside out from hunger.
-Ask everyone to "dress down". A casual event will be much more comfortable for everyone and the money spent on those expensive gowns and tuxes can be donated to cover the backs of people who are naked and wet.
-Don't have a sit down meal, have classy appetizers only. No one in Washington is starving and appetizers are interesting nowadays anyway. Send the money they'd spend on their five course meal to people who are begging for rice and water.
-Make the event alcohol-free -- except perhaps for the champaign toast. Everyone in Washington needs to be as clear-headed as possible going into 2005 anyhow.
-Ask the entertainment to donate their talents for the evening. It's a big gig anyhow and will look great on their resume, they don't need to be paid. Ask them to make their performance and "in-kind" donation to the victims. They'll get great publicity out of it.
If this sounds simplistic and impossible, it is only because we -- all of us, not just Washington -- are so used to living beyond our means and not living by solid, quieter principles that it seems so.
Remember Mother Teresa who cancelled the dinner to be held in her honor when she won the Nobel Peace Prize? She wanted the money that would have been spent to feed the wealthy to go feed the mouths of those she dedicated her life to.
Bush would set an example to the world by simply and elegantly accepting his role as President of the greatest nation on earth while showing that as Americans, occassionally we can put our priorities in the right place.