We are a commune of inquiring, skeptical, politically centrist, capitalist, anglophile, traditionalist New England Yankee humans, humanoids, and animals with many interests beyond and above politics. Each of us has had a high-school education (or GED), but all had ADD so didn't pay attention very well, especially the dogs. Each one of us does "try my best to be just like I am," and none of us enjoys working for others, including for Maggie, from whom we receive neither a nickel nor a dime. Freedom from nags, cranks, government, do-gooders, control-freaks and idiots is all that we ask for.
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Thursday, January 21. 2021
I have posted several times about my Food Bank work. I'm not doing this to say "Hey look at me aren't I so giving?" After all, I'd barely done any work over the years with them, aside from donations and occasional assistance at the pantry.
I'm a firm believer in giving back in some form, and doing it quietly. In the Bible, Jesus made it clear you shouldn't promote your good works in order to promote yourself, and I believe that. My grandfather also felt this way, his donations always came from "A Friend" and no other ID was provided. I tend to do this, as well. Anonymity (or some degree of it) here helps reduce the impact of me promoting myself via 'good works'.
On the other hand, drawing attention to needs, and providing useful information about charitable works is not easily done without a reasonable voice. To a degree, I give some celebrities a pass when they promote their 'good works'. A lot depends on just how they are doing that work. If they make it about themselves and what they are doing (Ed Begley, Jr. and his incessant BS about how 'green' he is would be an example - he's wealthy, so it's easy to be 'green' and it's a means by which he can draw attention to his declining celebrity status), then I tend find their points less credible.
If they are just helping to share a message and provide tips or other information, then I feel it's good for them to provide a platform. Martin Sheen, a man whose politics I have no love for and completely disagree with, walks the walk. I give him a big pass because he does a lot of work and does it very quietly. Sure, he gets press from time to time about the stuff he does (how else would I know?) but he isn't someone going out and demanding coverage or requiring it to keep himself front and center. I respect that approach.
In the comments section to my post yesterday, Assistant Village Idiot used a G.K. Chesterton quote which I quite liked. "It is true that there is a thing crudely called charity, which means charity to the deserving poor; but charity to the deserving is not charity at all, but justice. It is the undeserving who require it, and the ideal either does not exist at all, or exists wholly for them."
From my point of view, particularly in today's day and age, justice is not the best word, though the quote is generally accurate. I do not like the word 'justice' because it implies those needing charity have somehow been done wrong. In many cases, they have been done 'wrong' in some form. Either the vagaries of life, circumstance, or some other human error or flaw took things or opportunity from them. They may have lost the DNA lottery or the IQ lottery, or been injured in some way. They may not have the wherewithal to pick up and move on as many others do, after a failure. However, there are also some cases where they have made bad choices or decisions. Often knowingly and not caring of the consequences, almost to the point of relying on the backstop of 'charity' and a sense of 'justice'. Still fewer will just abuse the systems of charity simply because they can be abused. You cannot eliminate the abuse completely without eliminating the very good things which charitable efforts provide. But this is why using a word like "justice" implies to some (and you know who they are because the SJWs use this concept all the time) that there is a remedy to 'fix' this 'injustice'. There is no remedy, at least no remedy beyond the individual choice to do right, do well, and do good whenever you can.
However, the remedy most often employed is, obviously, government. Government is a poor tool for providing charity. It is inherently corrupt and from a purely economic standpoint adds costs that are unnecessary in terms of bureaucratic and administrative needs (known as 'deadweight loss' in economic terms). Government is not charity and should never be seen as a form of charity. Charity is an individual choice of goodness and humanity. It is a choice to help those who deserve real 'justice' (in Chesterton's words) and a bit of respite from the daily grind that may force them into bad situations. The current policy approach - to make it all government driven - is dangerous because it increases poor decision making.
Government-based or run entities and programs create opportunities for corruption and moral hazard. Many may feel it absolves them of guilt to have their taxes taken and used to 'help', but it also creates opportunities for wrongdoing, almost always on a grand scale.
Charity starts at home. It does not start in Washington, DC or any other government building. A politician who uses his charitable work to create credibility for him or herself is a liar, a cheat and a thief. When you see them promoting their 'charitable works' you can be sure it is small part of what they are doing - small enough to get a photo op then walk away.
As a good friend of mine said, when a politician proposes it, he's saying, "I'll gladly do good works with another's money." When a citizen votes for that politician, he's saying, "I'll do good works with my own money, if government holds a gun to my head."
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So very well said. I do find when people brag about what they do for others, it seems to get under my skin. I worked 40 years for the Department of Defense and every year they had a push for the charities you could donate directly out of your pay check. I did do this but found it I don't know the word , maybe distant. I found a charity that I really feel good about and it was the Christain Childrens Fund (they have since changed the name to "Child Fund) I receive letters from the children until they grow up and the help for them seems to do so much good. The feeling inside is so much better than the spoken word.
Worse even, I've worked for employers who shamed people into handing over such donations via the company and then claimed on their annual statements that they were the one making the donation as a company (and took the tax deductions for it as well).
Several coworkers who refused to take part disappeared under "mysterious circumstances" after their annual performance review, the workforce being told first they were sick, then they were on an extended vacation, and only after months that they had left the company, no reason given.
If my taste for "charities" hadn't already been soured by seeing the massive waste going on in many if not most of them (90%+ of donations going towards luxury trips to resorts for senior staff under the guise of "fact finding trips" or new office buildings when the old was only in use for less than 5 years, for example) that'd have told me that there's no point in donating to charities unless you can actually see with your own eyes the work they're doing, so the small local ones that all the big donation drives completely ignore.
So now I give all my donation budget to local and regional animal shelters, and very occasionally to the local chapter of the Salvation Army during their Christmas drive.
Yep. I worked once for a small non-profit who joined United Way in hope of increasing their funding, and watched it go the other way after they told their patrons to give to UW.
Give directly to the organization you support and avoid United Way and its ilk like the plague.
Christ excoriated the Pharisees who gave in public because they did so for their own image. But He did some good works in public, others in private. Public offerings (a church collection basket) may be done to encourage others, it depends on a person's intent.
I take a more practical approach.
I provide ID for tax purposes, it would be pointless not to since it diverts otherwise tax exempt donations to the government instead of to charity. And isn't boasting that someone gives anonymously itself a form of holier than thou self promotion?
Anyone can write a check or drop a few or a lot of bucks here or there (however, Jesus did not do this). Isn't charity for you Christians more than giving money? Doesn't your Bible say to visit the incarcerated, feed the hungry, welcome the foreigner, etc.?
By condemning all politicians or other public figures who use their examples of charitable giving as evidence of self-promotion, fraud and lying and cheating is, on its face, stupid, more so because not all charity is, as your Bible notes, involves "treasure." There is also "time" and "talent" which also may be very public. I think arguments like that are an excuse for many not to give or act charitably, and if you do so, reluctantly. You could act in the imitation of Christ but it's easier to write a check and make sure everyone knows it's anonymous.
Christ exhorted his followers and others to not do as the Pharisees (hypocrites) did which was to make a public spectacle of themselves, draped in sack-cloth and ashes, all for their own egos. (Matthew 6, 16-18) He knew it was entirely for show because He knew their hearts.
Yes, you're right that "anyone can write a check or drop a few or a lot of bucks here or there...." True charity for "we Christians" IS more than giving money - I would say it's everything but. It includes visiting the incarcerated (shut-ins who could use some company), feeding the hungry (including food for the soul; that’s just as important), welcoming the stranger (extending support to a new neighbor)… doing so means both corporal and spiritual works of charity.
Anonymous giving comes directly from Matthew 6, 1 – 6; keep your almsgiving secret as your Father in Heaven is more than aware and will reward you there. It’s been abused both by the IRS tax code and those who prefer to be like the Levite rather than the Samaritan and leave the grunt work to someone else. I didn’t get the feeling our OP was looking to boast about giving charity anonymously. I interpreted it as his way of addressing a need without the recipient feeling ashamed. That is an act of mercy, in my opinion.
Once upon a time almost everyone in a community had civic involvement of some sort – churches, veterans groups, girl/boy scouts, etc. The people involved often overlapped and the web of charitable support for the needy in the community came from those organizations. A true version of “Think Globally, Act Locally”. It makes more of an impact than the silly admonishment to clean your plate for the starving in China. What about those starving while living in a trailer down by the river?
But, those same organizations have been gutted and replaced with the “benevolence” of government welfare, in the name of fairness, or reaching more of those in need, or more likely just because those who stood to benefit from this new arrangement got a little something on the side.
I didn't condemn all politicians for doing anything. I simply stated that politicians who use their charitable actions to promote themselves and derive a sense of credibility from it are liars. I have no problem saying that.
Rand Paul was doing free eye surgeries in Central/South America for years before the media caught on and someone did a piece on him. I don't feel that was him using his charitable works for promotional use. I have no idea if he used it to promote himself during his brief presidential run - but I do remember having a conversation with someone who commented that Rand Paul seemed "selfish" in his approach to policy and I pointed out that he did free eye surgeries...something many people were unaware of.
There is a very big difference between having the media covering you because you're a public figure and then actually using it as a photo op.
An example of what I'm referring to was a volunteer project I worked on recently. 3 state/local politicians arrived at 8am, each gave a speech, each had their picture taken with a shovel digging a hole, and had some video taken of them directing people or talking, then were gone by 8:30. THAT is what I'm referring to.
"Ed Begley, Jr. and his incessant BS about how 'green' he is would be an example - he's wealthy, so it's easy to be 'green' and it's a means by which he can draw attention to his declining celebrity status"
Actually, daffy old Ed Begley, Jr. is probably the wrong example for what you're saying here; he's one of the few celebrities who does live modestly and walk the talk. He lives in an unassuming "ecohouse", drives a 2003 electric Toyota RAV4 and is known to use bicycles and - Shock! Horror! - public transportation. He also really minimizes his flying.
You'd be better going for real hypocrites like Leonardo DiCaprio, Emma Thompson and Katy Perry.
Yes - they are all examples of it, too. But what Ed does that irks me is to make it seem like ANYONE can do what he does. They can't. I'd watched his show a number of times. I'm not poor, but I looked into some of the things he said "anyone can do". Trust me - not everyone can. Because I sure as hell couldn't afford it.
I consider him a very good example of promoting a lifestyle that he feels is "affordable" but he is so out of touch he simply doesn't get it.
"But what Ed does that irks me is to make it seem like ANYONE can do what he does. They can't. I'd watched his show a number of times. I'm not poor, but I looked into some of the things he said 'anyone can do'. Trust me - not everyone can. Because I sure as hell couldn't afford it."
I take your point. Yes, that's certainly the key weakness of the "enviro-sustainable" crowd: it all hinges on expensive technologies and a particular "lifestyle". It's a very upper-middle-class preoccupation.
(Makes me think of This Old House on PBS. As much as I do enjoy that show, I'm always conscious that the house rebuilds consume $$$ on all sorts of bells and whistles that no average person could possibly afford to shell out. Indeed, the most realistic portion of the show is the section where they go out to fix some small problem at a modest dwelling.)
I never got the feeling that you were writing about your charity to draw attention to your own work, but to draw attention to the charity itself. There are many organizations out there doing charitable work and many people are unaware of them or their needs. A lot of that is because they're small and more dedicated to helping people than to drawing attention to themselves helping people. Which is where you come in - drawing attention to people doing good things with no thought of earning some sort of reward or even recognition for it. It's easy to write a check, it takes a little more to dedicate some time and effort. And even if you can't spend hours volunteering at a soup kitchen or a thrift store or driving elderly people to their doctor's appointments, you can offer to shovel out an elderly neighbor's driveway or clean their gutters, that's nice, too.
Most government charity is not charity but arises from political purposes for political ends. Some of it is amazingly cynical in intents vs. effects-multiple generations of families on welfare and "crazy checks" for example. The destruction of the black family since the advent of welfare is another example.
"Please stop helping us" has persisted for a reason.
I like the stated goals or intent of charitable organization. I dislike the reality of charitable organizations. The only one I would consider contributing to (if I could afford to) would be St. Vincent DePaul.
Bulldog, my wife started volunteering for a food-bank/hunger relief nonprofit much as you did, volunteering to pack boxes, and then moving on to helping sort incoming loads. Before we moved away she ended up (at her own suggestion) as a volunteer 30hr/wk personal assistant to the director, so that he could focus on the relationships with manufacturers and retailers who donated food and client organizations that needed food, and not need to worry so much about bookkeeping tasks, answering the phone, and composing thank-you emails to donors and volunteers.
That director had started in the retail food industry and was disturbed by the amount of good stuff that is thrown away. He discovered that supermarkets throw away a lot of short-date product, or 'send back' to the distributors/manufacturers at each restocking. If you offer to pick it up regularly and reliably and sign a 'hold harmless' contract, they (supermarkets, distributors, manufacturers) are often happy to just give it to you -- mostly.
The bread is shipped on bakery trays, which they're not willing to part with even temporarily, so you have to have your own. They might bring it straight to you, but you need a warehouse with a dock, unloaders with pallet-jacks, and storage - refrigerated storage for many items. If you have to pick it up, you have to send a truck and may need to exchange equivalent pallets and provide loaders too.
So the food was for the most part free, and once it was in the warehouse it was largely volunteer labor that sorted it and packed it, and client organizations (local food banks, soup kitchens, community meal programs) mostly came to pick it up themselves. But the "getting it into the warehouse" bit required renting the 'food-grade' warehouse, buying and running trucks, pallet racking, totes, pallets, pallet jacks, and refrigeration. The full-time paid staff of drivers and warehousemen was largely drawn from ex-convicts 'graduated' from being helped by partner organizations. So cash donations and grants from government programs and other charities/foundations are pretty critical to keeping the infrastructure of the operation going and the staff paid.
Even with getting the food straight from the supermarkets, distributors, and factories, there is wastage - crushed packaging, open bags of rice, burst milk-jugs (with corresponding need to hose-down the outside of the remainder . . .) but even there they had found pig-farmers and composting operations who were happy to make use of the stuff (other than packaging) so that waste-disposal cost was low.
Sometimes you also have to work out who needs and wants what is suddenly provided to you - such as a job-lot of disposable bed-pads, which aren't wanted by any of the area hospitals, hospices, or nursing-homes, but turn out to be greatly appreciated by the animal-rescue places.
Good stuff, thanks. Not sure how the administrative/supermarket relationships work here. I'm not that deeply embedded. I imagine (or hope) good ideas are shared.
This is close to what our situation is. We have two box trucks - both held together with baling wire, but box trucks. At the distribution warehouse that the supermarkets return the near-expirations to, we are allowed to use some kinds of bread trays but not their newer ones. However, this gives us the opportunity to first pick up the breads and cakes that are on the less-favored stacks, then move goods from the newer trays to the blank spots of the old trays and roll them onto the trucks. We bring the trays back the next week.
We pick up on Friday, and just leave it on the locked truck overnight for the Saturday outdoor distribution on tables. No warehouse needed.
We have some associated charities like halfway houses and food pantries that piggyback on our arrangement with the food warehouse, picking up lesser amounts of food into a volunteer's SUV. We do have a problem with downstream charities sometimes not picking up from us on Saturday, and we don't want to put food back into the truck to wait a week before the hour drive to the warehouse to swap out. Gross.
We have to tussle with the pig farmers who are also picking up bread and throwing it into their trucks. Some of them do not respect stacks we are assembling with our free labor and try to just take those when we aren't looking. But most of them like us and are fine. Wherever pig farmers are picking up leftovers is likely a place that the warehouse would just as soon give it to people.
Odd fact I learned from this. Pigs don't like rye bread.
I refuse to donate to anything if I don't know what happens to the money (examples, politically inspired charities, Facebook charities, UNICEF). I do donate to our local food pantry, the local women's shelter, the local animal shelter, and the Salvation Army, because those are entities where I can see actual results. None of this Bill Gates-style throwing money at something so I can look good.