In America, we make money the old fashioned way – we steal it from the Joneses with whom we are trying to compete. We’re a country that firmly believes in the notion that more is better and that competition trumps everything. Money uber alles if you will. But, we’re also one of the most charitable nations on Earth. Name a disaster anywhere on Earth and we’re ready to help. Ordinary folks dig deep and donate clothing, goods, or even their own time to just about every charitable cause imaginable.
Some of us anyway.
A few charitable organizations have sullied the many with underhanded donation solicitations, non-stop phone calls and mailings, excessive administration costs, pricey leadership, or just plain chicanery. These organizations have forgotten they aren’t profit centers and that charitable organizations practice, well, charity.
People get ruffled about these charities for the same reasons they don’t want to see any of their money wasted. You are sacrificing to help someone out and you don’t want a professional spamming and telemarketing company skimming most of the bucks off the top.
But just as we have a widening wealth gap, we’re also on the path to a widening charitability gap. Many Americans have gotten skin-flinty – down right mean about it too. This, of course, is their right. It’s their money and they can not create jobs with it or protest gay marriage with it or donate to the campaign of some of history’s biggest lunkheads. They can even demand the rest of us support their churches with our tax money…but aren’t allowed to complain about it without being accused of being an unpatriotic ner’do well.
Many of these people are the same ones that kvetch about taxes for anything, even the services they use, bought and paid for by those taxes. They believe poor people always have a choice to glom onto Uncle Sam’s tit or be the next CEO of Exxon. By God, they pulled themselves up by their Harvard MBAs, connected parents, and hard-drinking frat brothers and they expect everyone else to do the same – even if they have none of those built-in benefits.
It isn’t all about public assistance though. Their donations of time and money are on the wane. It’s much more fun to golf instead of working for Habitat for Humanity or spend your money so you can build that second yacht you’ve always coveted. You can’t even hear the drowning’s cries from your leather seat on Air Force One.
I like to think I do my part. I like to think I spread some of my own personal wealth (paltry though it may be to someone like Mittens) because I’m lucky enough to afford it. I volunteer for a variety of things. I think sharing is a good thing that brings not only pleasure, but much good for society. Really, everyone should jump on this bandwagon.
I’d like to think that all the, “I’ll get mine before anyone get theirs” folks are just having a bit of a charitability lapse. I’d like to think that all those folks who believe their taxes are too high – including the corporations that end up with effective tax rates of zero or people who settle tax fights for, “pennies on the dollar” – eventually see what damage they are causing to the nation they profess to love. I’d like to think they will never feel the sting of poverty, or deadly disease, or hunger. And if they do, I’ll be in line to help them out. That is not Christian charity it is human charity.
But if they do, I hope it will teach them the importance of charity, because boy, are they going to need it.
Cross posted at The Omnipotent Poobah Speaks!