Illustration: Eniola Odetunde/Axios

The Australian wildfires have elicited massive charitable donations: $33 million crowdsourced from Celeste Barber via Facebook; $1 million from actor Chris Hemsworth; $700,000 from a bikini model sending nudes on Twitter.

But, but, but: Most of the money is ending up in the coffers of the New South Wales Rural Fire Service (RFS) — part of the state government — and which last year saw donations of less than $1 million.

  • There is no evidence that the RFS is cash-constrained. Its income comfortably exceeded its expenses last year, and it has not made any pleas for donations this year. In fact, it has said that giving away the money will be a "challenge."

Between the lines: The human urge to donate money in the wake of a disaster — to feel that you're doing something — can be incredibly strong.

Why it matters: Firefighting is a central part of what governments should provide, and to that end the RFS receives hundreds of millions of dollars from the government every year. The RFS is staffed by volunteers, but it is not primarily a charity.

Our thought bubble: Part of the challenge facing the RFS is going to be to spend these funds on things it doesn't need, perhaps just by passing the money on to victims of the fire. All necessities should be covered by standard government funding mechanisms.

Go deeper: Australia's deadly fires: What you need to know

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Republicans and Dems react to Coney Barrett's Supreme Court confirmation

President Trump stands with Judge Amy Coney Barrett after she took the constitutional oath to serve as a Supreme Court justice during a White House ceremony Monday night .Photo: Tasos Katopodis/Getty Images)

President Trump said Judge Amy Coney Barrett's Senate confirmation to the Supreme Court and her subsequent taking of the constitutional oath Monday was a "momentous day," as she she vowed to serve "without any fear or favour."

  • But as Republicans applauded the third conservative justice in four years, many Democrats including Speaker Nancy Pelosi (Calif.) warned of consequences to the rush to replace the late Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg ahead of the Nov. 3 election, with progressives leading calls to expand the court.
Ina Fried, author of Login
36 mins ago - Science

CRISPR pioneer: "Science is on the ballot" in 2020

Photo: "Axios on HBO"

In her three decades in science, Jennifer Doudna said she has seen a gradual erosion of trust in the profession, but the recent Nobel Prize winner told "Axios on HBO" that the institution itself has been under assault from the current administration.

  • "I think science is on the ballot," Doudna said in the interview.

Why it matters: That has manifested itself in everything from how the federal government approaches climate change to the pandemic.

Ted Cruz doesn't think the Hunter Biden attacks are working

Republican Sen. Ted Cruz told "Axios on HBO" he doesn't think the Trump campaign's focus on the Biden family's business dealings are having any sway with voters.

The big picture: After watching the Trump-Biden debate with "Axios on HBO" on Thursday night, Cruz said he thought Trump had done very well. But when asked whether he thought voters were moved by the release of the Hunter Biden emails, Cruz replied, "I don't think it moves a single voter."