Hurricane Katrina showed us two things. It showed us that gross incompetence and a total lack of experience does not deter anyone from working at the highest levels of government (and that those same people, when exposed as incompetent frauds, should be forced to live in the middle of the disaster area without food or shelter). It also showed us that when faced with the suffering of others, "ordinary and everyday people" could be driven into action to help those stricken with incredible hardship. But who is helping the people who help? (If you answered FEMA, you need to watch less Fox News.) Modest Needs realized that many regularly self-sufficient people could be pushed into insolvency by an unexpected expense such as housing a suddenly homeless family. Generally, these people do not qualify for regular assistance, and are thus overlooked. Modest Needs establishes at the outset that it is not its intention to replace long-term charities such as the Red Cross; it simply seeks to help families avoid insolvency, an all too prevalent reality in our paycheck-to-paycheck world. How modest a payment means the difference between solvency and insolvency? Average grant = $180. Makes the millions wasted on unjustified wars seem, I don't know, ridiculous. Thom Wong is a law student who spends an unreasonable amount of time online. His 40 bLinks column runs every Monday and Thursday on The Tyee. What's he all about? Click here. For previous 40 bLinks, click here.