Thursday, July 7, 2016

Red Cross admits it built only 6 houses in Haiti

Several readers have bashed me for bashing the American Red Cross. For example, one reader said,
‘What’s wrong with their having 1,359 employees above $100,000 per year? That’s just what it costs to get good people.’ 
 According to their own reports, Red Cross collected $490 million to help Haiti after the massive earthquake there in 2010 that killed over 220,000 people. Red Cross now admits they only built 6 houses with that money, but that was because their plans for housing were stymied because "clear land title couldn’t be established." They nevertheless claim they helped 132,000 Haitians with housing. 
Let's see: $490 million divided by 132,000 equals about $3,700 each. If that's true, those 132,000 Haitians each got double their yearly salary from the Red Cross. I can't help being skeptical of that claim.
Meanwhile, 2 years after the disaster Habitat for Humanity reported they had  "repaired or rehabbed more than 350 houses, and constructed 150 permanent core houses as part of its permanent housing community," despite the problems of 'establishing clear land title'... 
Donations to Habitat for Humanity in 2010 were about $20 million, none of which, as far as I can tell, went to Jimmy Carter.
Jehovah's Witnesses reported in their December, 2010 issue of Awake! that "In the first few months following the quake, 1,500 homes had already been built by the Witnesses for those who had lost theirs."

Apparently all those "good people" at Red Cross are getting paid high salaries for pushing paper around. 
Are you a good person? Tell me: if you really believed the American Red Cross were a noble endeavor, wouldn’t you be willing to work for them for less than $100,000 per year? I would. I think I’m a good person. I’ve been known to work for free for causes I believed in. I could certainly work for a below-market salary if I believed in the work they were doing. 
As long as it wasn’t their blood business...
The Red Cross is the nation’s largest blood business. Not a business, you say?
  • In 2006, the FDA slapped them with a $4.2 million fine for sloppy screening and testing practices. In their reply, the Red Cross stated “revenue from the sales of blood products will be used to pay the fine.”
  • In 2010, the FDA again fined the Red Cross, this time $16 million, for the continuation of the same issues: failing to properly screen donors, failing to keep proper records of donors and recipients, failure to follow up on infected transfusion recipients and cross-match them with the donors, so that infected donors can be barred from the program, and other defects.
  • In 2012, they were again fined $9.6 million for the same ongoing problem.
Presumably the money to pay those fines , too, came out of the ‘revenue from sales of blood products.’ Just one of the costs of doing business. Still don't believe they are a business?
According to their website, the Red Cross collects 6.5 million units of blood, free, every year. They sell it to hospitals, according to several nationwide polls, for anywhere from $150 to $300 per unit. The Red Cross and other not-for-profit blood businesses claim that money is simply the cost of screening, testing, storage, transportation, and so on, with just a small percentage added on for unexpected losses or emergencies. (A not-for-profit can't very well call that percentage a 'profit,' can they?)
I’ve always been terrible at math, but 6.5 million times $150 per unit seems to be somewhere in the neighborhood of just under a Billion dollars.
That’s a pretty nice neighborhood. However…
Remember the Red Cross official tax return I referenced in my previous column? It lists income from “Biomedical Products and Services” which no doubt includes other donated things like transplant organs but is primarily blood sales, as $2,153,870,039.00.
How did they make 2 Billion dollars on 6.5 million units of free blood with a market value of 1 billion? 

Whole blood is rarely transfused anymore. Blood can be broken down into its four primary components – red cells, white cells, plasma, and platelets – as well as even smaller fractions, and the components and fractions can be sold for much more than whole blood. (Click here for my column on blood fractions.)
According to the National Institutes of Health a unit of platelets, for example, sells for a nationwide average of $533 - far more than the average price for a unit of whole blood. And some fractions, and certain rare blood types, sell for much more than that.
Maybe those $100,000+ salary employees at the American Red Cross are in their public relations department?
 Bill K. Underwood is the author of several novels and one non-fiction self-help book, all available at You can help support this site by purchasing a book.

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