January 16, 2010

Charitable texting.

$5 and $10 donations are easy to make, and they really add up. It's a terrific way to include vastly more donors. It's not just that people have cell phones and the phone company already has all your credit card information, it's that it makes small cup-of-coffee size donations the norm.

Text the word "HAITI" to 90999 to donate $10 to the American Red Cross. And get on with your life!

Now, maybe you think charity should involve more reflection and attention to the object of charity. Maybe you think charitable donors should feel that they are giving something up for the sake of the less fortunate and be personally transformed by the act of giving. You know how people who make the effort to attend a long church service feel about the people who say, "I can pray anywhere!," "I can pray on the golf course," "I'll pray when I'm stuck waiting in line somewhere," etc. 

Jesus said: "But when you give to the needy, do not let your left hand know what your right hand is doing." So do not let your left thumb know what your right thumb is doing. Text some charity and don't make any kind of deal out of it. Don't even let yourself think that you have done anything. There is good in that, and it's a good instantly achieved by everyone with a cell phone. You're only giving $5 or $10, so there isn't even anything to congratulate yourself about. When everyone just does this, without thinking, the charities get millions, and we have no reason to get puffed up about about our benevolence.

92 comments:

andrew said...

Quite true.

Childs Play Charities have been doing things like this for a while. The nature of communications and commerce today make charity an easy and wonderful thing.

Personally I'd donate, but my cell phone provider doesn't have my CC info. I use Cricket if anyone is curious.

Here's the link to Child's Play for those who don't know of it.
http://www.childsplaycharity.org/

WV: Reexcr. One goes without bathing by choice.

bagoh20 said...

$10 dollars may take you only minutes to earn and a few seconds to send, but it could feed a family for more than a day. That is a hell of good way to spend a few minutes. The best spent minutes of this day.

rhhardin said...

The trick is to get everybody to send you ten cents, I figured as a child.

That seemed to me to be the way to go when I was in grade school, probably a reaction to the annual March of Dimes fund raising.

Then I could buy anything I wanted.

I was severely allowance-constrained.

andrew said...

rhhardin:

Its just like issuing bonds.

What would be easier, getting 1 person to lend you $1,000,000 or getting 1,000,000 people to lend you $1?

rhhardin said...

I wasn't planning on paying it back.

Night2night said...

Yes. Get the money to people who we know will use it to help those on the ground and not pad the pockets of corrupt officials. This venue is a good one.

bearing said...

I really like this post, both as a reflection on technology and as a reflection on charity.

rhhardin said...

Maybe directions on how to fish could be texted.

andrew said...

rhhardin: I like you. :)

You just summed up my entire beef with our welfare system.

If we were teaching our welfare recipients how to provide better, they wouldn't be welfare recipients anymore. They would be more like people shaped bonds.

Theo Boehm said...

Matthew 6:2-4 updated.
Excellent.
Thank you very much for this useful and wise post.

Ignorance is Bliss said...

What, no Heavyweight Religion tag?

john said...

I prefer focusing my donations and striving for efficiency rather than scatter even a few bucks over some cell phone texting scheme.

I am concerned enough about various charities that come calling that I periodically check out Charity Navigator: http://www.charitynavigator.org/index.cfm?bay=search.summary&orgid=3277

American Red Cross has great efficiency, putting 90% of its funds into programs. Salvation Army puts 82% of its funds into its programs. I like to contribute to SA because I think their "on the ground" program efficiency may be much higher (and they also have those spiffy uniforms). Every charity's definition of program is different.

Check out Charity Navigator before you succumb to the next high pressure donation call from some firefighters or police association.

JAL said...

The phone idea is good, you can do it as you drive out of Starbucks o assuage guilt.

I use online donations provisions and have donated to groups, charities and people I would not have in the past.

The internet and wireless have transformed many aspects of contemporary life.

To the Professor's other point -- giving smaller amounts (and more of them) means I won't be puffed up and self righteous? (Luke 18:10-14)

Whatever works, do it.

On the ground I don't think the Haitians care how fat our heads are.

john said...

Andrew - if you teach someone how to fish all you've done is create another liar.

JAL said...

Good point. I hate it when the police and fire call.

I gave to the SA this time as I figured they hav less overhead to deal with. (No million dollar executives.) I prefer initiating contact and never give to calls.

IIRC some of the charities (SA? Red Cross? Not sure which.) are saying all money designated for Haiti will go there.

kalmia said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Lem said...

On the ground I don't think the Haitians care how fat our heads are.

3 Fishing Villages In Haiti, Food For The Poor, Inc.

Nichevo said...

Feh. I can't explain it but I feel nothing for Haiti. That country is, no racism intended, a black hole. If aid isn't stolen by these charities it'll be stolen FROM these charities once it lands at Port-au-Prince.

What would happen if NO help arrived? What would they do? Curl up and die? I laughed when I heard the Presidential Palace (lol) and the UN HQ were flattened. Good start, God/Gaia! That will probably go a ways toward ridding the country of its demons.

Montagne Montaigne said...

What a beautiful post! Thank you! I donated to Partners in Health...

Nichevo said...

You realize of course that if Cedarford could kill everyone in Haiti and resettle it with Chinese (or with deported American Jews of course), it would be the wealthiest country in the Carib in a decade.

AllenS said...

I feel sorry for the people of Haiti. The place was a shit hole before the quake. Give as much money as you want, for as long as you want. The place will always be a shit hole.

Freeman Hunt said...

Kiva is neat. (Not for this relief effort but in general.)

That's not charity though, it's micro loans to people starting or expanding small businesses.

The Drill SGT said...

IIRC some of the charities (SA? Red Cross? Not sure which.) are saying all money designated for Haiti will go there.

for this job, Catholic Relief is a solid bet.

you can be sure that CR is going to spend more money in Haiti than they get in "Haiti Donations"

Meade said...

And don't forget that you, or someone you know, may be eligible to donate your life-saving blood, something I never considered doing myself before my own brother's life was saved, in part, by more than a dozen anonymous donors.

Flexo said...

"Charity" is from the Latin caritas, meaning "love."
Love is a personal act -- something that involves the person, the entirety of the person, and not merely some unthinking robotic movement of one's fingers.

And yet, this is exactly what has happened with assistance to the unfortunate overall with government's usurpation of charity. People pat themselves on the back for government spending a lot on welfare, as if they actually did it themselves, when they really did nothing, other that passively watch the government automatically take their money in tax withholdings.

Indeed, studies routinely show that those who most push for an increase in welfare spending, who most agitate for "social justice," are the ones who make the fewest personal charitable donations -- not only monetarily, but they volunteer their services the least as well. Presumably they are thinking to themselves, I gave at the office, (i.e. paid taxes), or they think that only "the rich" are responsible for helping out, so they don't do so themselves.

jaltcoh said...

If aid isn't stolen by these charities it'll be stolen FROM these charities once it lands at Port-au-Prince.

What would happen if NO help arrived?


Well, it's a fact that charities are giving help right now (example). They're not just funneling in money; they're providing actual services. So, your speculation is demonstrably false. But, as you said, you don't care about the people of Haiti, so presumably you don't care about these facts.

rhhardin said...

For Autustine, charity meant thinking the best of somebody rather than the worst.

It changed into giving money sometime later.

Scott said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Scott said...

On a more prosaic point: I just sent the msg "Haiti" to 90999 on my cell phone. The Red Cross responded with a request to confirm by replying "Yes". This double opt-in feature is a nice piece of security, and gives you the option to cancel your donation if, on reflection, you find that you have no empathy for the homeless and suffering.

exhelodrvr1 said...

Great post. Just make sure that the charity you donate to isn't funneling their money through the government of Haiti - that just makes the situation worse in the long run.

Flexo said...

American Red Cross has great efficiency

I don't know about that. Not only do I have this suspicion that money being spent on staff salaries is counted toward helping recipients, but I remember after a couple of disasters (including Katrina, I think), the Red Cross still had not spent the money collected months after the incident. Moreover, funds that were collected for a specific disaster were held in the general fund for use in other areas. There was a big controversy over these practices, I remember.

In any event, before you give, do your homework. Research into those that are authentic organizations and those that are scams, collecting money just to put into their administrators' pockets (which I think is the case with most special interest groups, charitable or otherwise).

Give your money to those groups that were already there on the ground in Haiti before the earthquake, those that already had an established presence. Catholic Relief Services and it's parent organization Caritas Internationalis have long been working in Haiti. Moreover, many U.S. Catholic parishes have sister parishes in Haiti -- and if you were to give to one of these you would know that 100 percent of what you give goes to actual Haitians in need.

My advice -- whatever you do, do not give to the U.N., which is a total scam operation.

paul a'barge said...

[blockquote]You know how people who make the effort to attend a long church service feel about the people who say, "I can pray anywhere!,"[/blockquote]

Not really. Apparently we now know how people who don't make an effort to attend church feel about people who do make an effort to attend church, though. Revealing? I'd say so.

Why do some of us make that effort to attend a church service? Click and read here.

You can give yourself an opportunity to be in a place where the Lord restores your soul and at the same time pray anywhere. I know I do.

HTH.

exhelodrvr1 said...

Meade,
GOod point about giving blood. If you don't want to go through the REd Cross, most areas have a local blood bank. (i.e. San Diego Blood Bank.)

Beth said...

Meade, that's a good reminder. I'll add to it platelet donations. Both are needed.

Fred4Pres said...

Giving is good for you. That is why we give. Not as some good work check mark, becuase it makes you a slightly better person. Like going to the gym.

J. Cricket said...

Why not give a large amount of nmoey. You still do not have reason to feel good about yourself. You are wealthy and privileged.

Do much more than you were planning to do. Think big. I know that violates the Althouse ethos, whereby charity is unthinking and small. Oh-boy.

Give $1,000 -- and don't feel good about yourself. And Althouse: $10,000. And I don't want to hear a word about it.

But let's face it: you're incapable of this on several levels.

So five bucks it is. And maybe a little blood. You're sooooo generous!!!!!

Jeff with one 'f' said...

How can I text a donation to the US Navy?

traditionalguy said...

Another good red letter quote that applies relief organisations is Mathew 24:45-51. Jesus speaks there like one having authority.

kimsch said...

John @ 10:19

I hate those police and fire calls. They say that the money goes locally. I don't believe them. If you really want to make sure a donation goes to the local police or fire, give directly at the police station or firehouse. Go ask them what they need. Buy something for them. Maybe they need a new microwave or coffee maker. Maybe some steaks for the fire crew to have for dinner one night would be appreciated...

Lem said...

then again there is a saying..

Charity begins at home..

Flexo said...

I don't know that that is particularly charitable J. Cricket, but this much is true -- we could give everything we own, deplete our bank accounts and sell all our goods and give them all to the poor. And it still would not be "enough."

We are called to give the entirety of ourselves, the entirety of our being, each and every day, to others. "As I have loved you, so you also should love one another." The one who said that gave His very life for others. So too are we called to do. Unless we do, we fall short, no matter how much else we do.

Paco Wové said...

I find your bottomless well of envy and pettiness fascinating, AJD.

john said...

Flexo -

I agree. ARC's great efficiency (putting 90% of its funds into its programs) really begs the question of how does the organization define its "program"?

Catholic Relief seems like a great org. to support.

blogging cockroach said...

hoo boy did i ever tell you what a pain
in the abdomen crickets are
they re noisy and don t seem to
understand anything and always
chirping at 3 in the morning and
not bright enough to understand
some other good advice of jesus
that s also in matthew if i remember
namely judge not lest ye be judged
and the whole beam in the eye bit
which i suppose i m doing now except
i m painfully aware of what a miserable
insect i am which i think is comeuppance
for what a rotten jerk i was in the last life
but there i go again mixing religions

mrs whatsit said...

Here is a link to a tiny on-the-ground organization in Haiti that has been doing great work there for a while and is currently putting all donations and hands-on work directly into earthquake relief:

http://www.oursoil.org/

Ignorance is Bliss said...

"If they figure out a way to allow Charitable sexting I'd be the Girl Scout's biggest supporter." - Scott Ritter

bagoh20 said...

Giving blood after 9/11 saved MY life. My blood was rejected leading me to discover that I had terminal cancer. I was cured just in time. The life you save may be your own. Consequently, I can't give blood anymore, which is a bummer cause I would give the maximum permitted. It's free!

My favorite charity Is "Brother's Brothers" out of Pittsburgh. Has the lowest overhead and fundraising costs of the top 100 Charities. They are, of course, in Haiti as well.

www.brothersbrother.org/

bagoh20 said...

We should be careful to send money to people who will use it wisely, but even if a lot gets wasted, it's not like you weren't going to waste it anyway...all day, long every day.

Regardless some of it will feed a doctor between triage shifts, or put a hot coffee in a nurse's hand when she can't stay awake any longer.

Perfection is just a mother-in-law along on your honeymoon.

"If you teach someone how to fish all you've done is create another liar." I love that, John.

William said...

I had a relative who, after a long, painful illness, died in a hospice. The people who worked there showed impressive amounts of compassion and gentleness to the dying bodies that were in their care. Death is something awful, but this was about the best kind of death human beings can negotiate. I don't know how much comfort the staff give to their charges who lapse in and out of consciousness, but the comfort that they give to the surrounding relatives is immeasurable. I'm not by nature a charitable person, but after the death I felt obliged to give a couple of hundred dollars to the hospice to continue its good work and to assuage my guilt for not being sufficiently attentive to the departed.....The deaths in Haiti are a different kind of death. The bodies are piled up like cordwood, and the stink offends the nostrils of even their loved ones. They had poverty blighted lives, and now they are dead.....Next week I will give one hundred dollars to some charity or another. Some spokesman for this or that group will appear on television and strike a nerve. I feel a little guilty about the size of my contribution especially in relation to the size of my contribution to the hospice. It seems an inflexible rule of nature that those who need the most get the least and vice versa. And so it goes......The Althouse post reflects well on her charity and sense of proportion about her charity. Me, I'm looking for the tax deduction.

Noah said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
bagoh20 said...

When we get hardened about giving because some of it gets stolen, and I'm not immune, just remember who is really getting ripped off. I just consider it a tax I have to pay to help. It may piss you off, but there are lots of things unfair about such a tragedy. Us wasting a little money is a minor one. Just be smart about it, but do it. Donate that money the government is gonna take (steal) when you die.

LonewackoDotCom said...

The "getting on with your life" part sounds so sweet. But, what if, despite feeling all good about yourself, your charity only has a short-term impact and nothing changes or gets even worse long-term?

Here's what Rush said a couple days ago: "You just can't keep throwing money at it because the dictatorships there just take it all. They don't spread it around, and even if they did they're not creating a permanent system where people can provide for themselves. It's a simple matter of self-reliance. Nobody takes that approach down there because this has always been a country run by dictators and incompetent ones at that."

What Haiti needs and doesn't appear to be getting is a long-term strategic vision that's rooted in reality and isn't simply an attempt by the far-left or the far-right to experiment with their pet ideologies. I'm not suggesting that people refrain from donating to help with short-term needs, but that they might want to put pressure on groups and politicians to develop non-corrupt long-term solutions.

Also, the Dems have begun to profit from the disaster despite the fact that they will make things worse. Yet, oddly enough, you haven't heard too much about that from r/w noisemakers on the blogs, and I've heard nothing about it fom Glenn Reynolds or the tea party types. Odd.

Nichevo said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Nichevo said...

jaltcoh,

1) If I cared I would tell you to go fuck yourself, but as you say, I don't. However, you are the sort of fellow who needs to go fuck himself on general principles, so: Go fuck yourself. You only persist here because your mommy owns the blog, certainly not on account of any personal virtues of your own.

2) More to the point, your retort shows poor intellectual capability. It is nonresponsive, illogical, and troll-bait. As I am responding, I should be deleted, but then so should you.

3) Let me elaborate on 2) above:

If aid isn't stolen by these charities it'll be stolen FROM these charities once it lands at Port-au-Prince.

What would happen if NO help arrived?

Well, it's a fact that charities are giving help right now (example). They're not just funneling in money; they're providing actual services. So, your speculation is demonstrably false. But, as you said, you don't care about the people of Haiti, so presumably you don't care about these facts.


Aid not in the form of money can be stolen too. Services can be stolen, in the sense of being misdirected, impeded, and wasted, not to mention the real security threats to aid workers. Would kidnapping count as "stealing" services? Or hijacking aid convoys?

The "what if NO aid arrived" comment was not intended to suggest that aid is not forthcoming, and you show your unworthiness to engage in intellectual debate by so misinterpreting it.

My question was, if NO aid were forthcoming, what would the Haitians do? The Iranians have terrible earthquakes all the time, and somehow, despite their variegated dysfunctions, seem to mostly manage to dig their own way out. So do Mississippians and Midwesterners and San Franciscans. Haitians and New Orleanians apparently are not so good at it. One wonders why.

4) To elaborate on 1) and 3) above, when you're done fucking yourself, try harder next time.

TW: doness. Which is what you are.

Nichevo said...

Loner,

Most people who believe as I do are holding fire because of the abuse showered upon them by such as jaltcoh.

TW: recha. Indeed. Heh.

bagoh20 said...

"...despite their variegated dysfunctions, seem to mostly manage to dig their own way out."

Some do and some don't. The ones who die after days of suffering, do so because aid did not come, for whatever reason. It may be because it got stolen or it may be because it was never sent. Only one is in my hands.

TRO said...

Being Catholic, I've given donations to Haiti for years through Catholic Relief. It does good work down there.

rhhardin said...

Haiti has a logistics problem, not a money problem.

bagoh20 said...

"Haiti has a logistics problem, not a money problem."

As the poorest nation in the western hemisphere, I think it clearly has both, but I have a good excuse for not helping with the logistics.

Flexo said...

even if a lot gets wasted, it's not like you weren't going to waste it anyway...all day, long every day.
Regardless some of it will feed a doctor between triage shifts, or put a hot coffee in a nurse's hand when she can't stay awake any longer.


bagoh20 -- with that approach, how about you make your hundred dollar contribution to me? I'll be sure to pass on 15 bucks or so to the folks in Haiti. Would you be satisfied with that? After all, some of it will go to the doctors or nurses.

bagoh20 said...

"...how about you make your hundred dollar contribution to me?"

If that is what it took to get $15 to a human that needs it, I would. I actually expect that is quite possibly what will happen. So?

When you buy a $5 latte, do you think it all goes to buy the beans?

rhhardin said...

I wonder how HH2OT in Haiti is doing. My first foreign radio contact at 5am one schoolday morning.

A conversation cut short because my father's electric razor wiped out the radio reception.

I don't know how people remember call signs.

Anyway somebody was doing something in Haiti long ago.

Somebody has posted his QSL card, from a half decade later.

Dave S. said...

I pay my phone bill by check. Can I still donate by text? Will it just show up on my bill?

edutcher said...

BillO talked about this, as he has had some experience from the last Haitian emergency and he made essentially the same point as Rush - don't send money to the Haitian government, you might as well burn it. Send it to a reputable NGO - the ones mentioned by the commenters are the best.

john said...

Andrew - if you teach someone how to fish all you've done is create another liar.

Love it!!

American Red Cross has great efficiency, putting 90% of its funds into programs. Salvation Army puts 82% of its funds into its programs.

Two of the best and most reliable.

The Drill SGT said...

for this job, Catholic Relief is a solid bet.

That's the other good one.

LonewackoDotCom said...

...

Here's what Rush said a couple days ago: "You just can't keep throwing money at it because the dictatorships there just take it all. They don't spread it around, and even if they did they're not creating a permanent system where people can provide for themselves. It's a simple matter of self-reliance. Nobody takes that approach down there because this has always been a country run by dictators and incompetent ones at that."

What Haiti needs and doesn't appear to be getting is a long-term strategic vision that's rooted in reality and isn't simply an attempt by the far-left or the far-right to experiment with their pet ideologies. I'm not suggesting that people refrain from donating to help with short-term needs, but that they might want to put pressure on groups and politicians to develop non-corrupt long-term solutions.


Wack, for once we agree. The French have always been lousy colonial masters (like it or not, the Limeys have a far better track record) and they left Haiti a basket case when they left. A two hundred year occupation (like the British in India) to institute good government and stable institutions is what's needed. Sad to say, the US wouldn't be up to the job with the crew in DC these days.

Jeff with one 'f' said...

How can I text a donation to the US Navy?

Not sure, but you'd probably want to send it to USAID. The Navy doesn't take donations, as far as I know.

bagoh20 said...

As a lucky resident of California, the Feds and the state take half my income, but I don't tell my boss to just keep my paycheck because Harry Reid is gonna get some.

I'd rather my money go to some destitute criminal in Haiti, frankly. He'll do less damage with it.

Besides it my freakin money and I'll waste it as I please. You can do the same.

bagoh20 said...

What Rush said is true about continuing aid - it must me closely controlled. But in an emergency like this, you have to accept waste and even theft to save lives.

When your house is on fire, you don't worry about the water bill.

The accountability can be put in place after this fire is out.

Flexo said...

When your house is on fire, you don't worry about the water bill.

But when they point their hoses at the storm drain instead of your house, it is time to find a new fire department.

kimsch said...

There was an episode of "The Philanthropist" about Haiti. The story was that when the UN came in and just gave rice away, the lines grew long and people only got a little rice. They had to bring their own containers and come for rice every day.

The brother of the one Foundation founder was left in Haiti when the mother and the younger brother were able to leave for the US. The US raised brother did quite well. The Haiti raised brother became a senator. He wanted to disrupt the UN rice giveaways to "force" the people to start planting their own food and rice again. To force them to become self sufficient again.

That reminds me of the true story of the first Thanksgiving. The pilgrims were to put everything they made into the community pool. Nobody really wanted to work for all the others. Once the rules were changed to allow people to keep what they grew and trade what they wanted to, the pilgrims prospered.

We do have to create a bunch of liars (thanks John, that was too funny) in Haiti so the can become self sufficient.

here is the link to the entire episode.

wv: graftedi - let's pray for less graft and more edi...

bagoh20 said...

When I give to charity, I'm not looking for a bargain.

Of course a lot gets wasted, but you only have two choices: help or don't. If I thought none of it got through, that would be different. I can't save the world, but spend $100 bucks on a hotel room for a night or pay $100 to feed a starving family for a week (assuming half gets wasted), I can do that and sacrifice one day vacation. I can't in good conscience deny them just because I might get taken advantage of and feel used. I'll swallow my pride. It's not that much money. And my principles are shit otherwise anyway.

Joe M. said...

This is terrific.

Now, maybe you think charity should involve more reflection and attention to the object of charity. Maybe you think charitable donors should feel that they are giving something up for the sake of the less fortunate and be personally transformed by the act of giving.

Nope ... well, kind of. Virtuous action can be personally transformative, but only an un-virtuous man needs be transformed by it (and, of course, the action should probably be chosen for its own sake rather than for a boast to the self or a calculation of image--hence, let not the left hand).

Digression on moral virtue that most folks will probably tedious.

I find Aristotle's understanding of moral virtue, put forth in the Nicomachean Ethics (particularly the second book), to be (for the most part) compelling.

An act may be virtuous, but the man who performs it is not necessarily virtuous himself. Something to consider: our word "morals" comes from the Latin mos, moris, which in its plural mores means habit, custom, characteristic; our word "ethics" comes from the Greek ἔθω (ethō), which means to be accustomed to. Our language reflects the (correct) idea that for a man to be virtuous, he must be consistently and characteristically virtuous, not just occasionally so--it seems to me many folks today have lost sight of that fact (but then again many folks today don't give much thought to morals or virtue or goodness).

Aristotle explains this more carefully. He says (roughly, and as best as I can understand him) that for a man to be virtuous:
1. he must perform virtuous actions

2. he must know what he is doing (he can't be virtuous by accident)

... (continued below)

Joe M. said...

3. (a) he must freely choose to act (can't be coerced into virtue: incidentally, this is something that libertarians pick up on--probably through Mill--when criticizing things like nondiscrimination laws ... although at that point my beliefs about virtue and my beliefs about well-advised law would probably diverge) and (b) he must choose the action for its own sake (so no choosing it to feel good about himself, no choosing it to impress others, etc.).

4. he must choose it from ἕξις (hexis), a firm and unchanging characteristic (the word ἕξις is a noun derived from the verb ἔχω (exō--though the 'x' sounds of the ξ (our standard 'x') and χ (closer to a 'ch' sound) are different), which means to have or to be in the condition of so ἕξις, then, is a being in a certain state, a permanent condition (LS9).

But the problem is how a man acquires that ἕξις. The answer is simple: practice. The man must habituate himself to virtue. Aristotle's explanation of how that happens (given for the most part in the third book) is complicated, and perhaps can be glossed over here. The short answer is that the man must learn to take pleasure in performing virtuous actions for their own sake, and tame the desirous part of his soul which would have him choose viciously (i.e., choose vice). Since the un-virtuous man probably doesn't understand precisely what actions are virtuous, Aristotle advises him to imitate the best man (this is particularly interesting for Christians) while he works to become virtuous.

So that's how I can answer "nope ... well, kind of" to the idea of personal transformation and charitable giving. The virtuous man is not transformed by the act because he already has the relevant ἕξις, but the un-virtuous man is in the process of acquiring that ἕξις, and the act is transformative.

End of digression.

You also said:
You know how people who make the effort to attend a long church service feel about the people who say, "I can pray anywhere!," "I can pray on the golf course," "I'll pray when I'm stuck waiting in line somewhere," etc.

This is a separate question, of course. Although it is perfectly possible (and commendable) to pray often and in the midst of everyday activities, such prayer is not a substitute for regular church attendance (length of service is probably irrelevant)--the two actions are different in nature, and not interchangeable.

And one more thing: I wonder if political campaigns in the future will be able to harness this method of contribution on a wide scale? Did Obama manage this is '08?

vbspurs said...

Ann Althouse wrote:

When everyone just does this, without thinking, the charities get millions, and we have no reason to get puffed up about about our benevolence.

Here's another angle. I've had to use this argument many times, as I was raised by my parents from littlest girlhood to contribute my time to charities.

People are sometimes contemptuous of rich folks who donate vast sums of money to organisations, and then expect their name to be plastered on wings, halls, centres and all manner of edifice.

Now, anonymous donation is not to be gainsayed. But there is absolutely nothing wrong with folks who tout their donations for all to see by plastering their names everywhere.

At the end of the day, the organisation gets what it most needs (the money) and the person feels good about their donation, which in turn acts as an example for others to do so. Never underestimate the competitive spirit of human beings. Even when they should be doing something without motivation, they often don't.

That's why doing so in viva voce without anonymity works better than discretion.

In my capacity as Junior chair for the Red Cross ball in Palm Beach, once, I found out just how much others didn't understand why you had to hold a shindig to open up wallets and "do the right thing".

People told me, that's not right. Why don't they just cut a cheque and you guys save the money you would've spent in throwing the party?

Because that's not how people work, especially when it's thousands and millions and not $5.

Each of those impulses is beautiful, but you better believe that Tiger Woods isn't going to be donating 50 million dollars to Haiti, the same way I would give Wyclef Jean's telephone charity $5. There are too many other reasons that go into the gesture, including hypocrisy.

But BOTTOM LINE IS:

the Haitians are going to get the money, just like the children's hospitals, just like the soup kitchens, so stop worrying about people's motivations. JUST GIVE.

Cheers,
Victoria

LonewackoDotCom said...

It's not surprising that bagoh20 doesn't understand that what it does could make the situation worse. When donating to feed people, the minor worry is that some will be wasted. The major worry is that they won't learn how to feed themselves.

Consider these options:
1. Just giving those in the Sahara food.
2. Just giving them desert fridges (a recent and simple invention).
3. Training them how to build a desert fridges factory.

Only the last is good for their long-term wellbeing, but too many people just do the first and then use that to feel good about themselves.

P.S. The TPS situation is a chance for the tea party types to both a) make the Dems look bad, and b) improve the long-term situation in Haiti. It's not surprising that they're too dumb to realize that.

edutcher said...

vbspurs said...

...

In my capacity as Junior chair for the Red Cross ball in Palm Beach...

Allow me to thank you for your work. A lot of good people such as yourself make our non-government charitable work the most honest, efficient, and reliable relief system in the world.

Cedarford said...

"Nichevo said...
You realize of course that if Cedarford could kill everyone in Haiti and resettle it with Chinese (or with deported American Jews of course), it would be the wealthiest country in the Carib in a decade."

A Jewish cheapshot, but we can roll with it given Nichevos tribal "everything for us, nothing for you or the Haitian charities" philosophy.

Yes if the black Haitians magically had went away 100 years ago, and you could have put Swiss, Chinese, Chileans, or Jews in their stead:

1. You would have not seen their population grow 10-fold in 100 years.
2. The land and ocean around the people would be lush and beautiful, water clean. Not the forest denuded, lifeless ocean, polluted water nightmare Haiti is today.
3. You would not have had 10,000 NGOs working feverishly for decades to "save the noble Haitians". You would have had a prosperous trade hub, with educated people with a high standard of living.
4. If the 7.0 Earthquake had hit a Swiss city, or Jewish city, or CHilean city of 2 million located on the inner bay in Haiti, you would have had a hundred or so casualties. And no real need for foreign help other than the usual "hero rescue teams" that live to rush to disaster scenes, spend ten million saving one person, pat themselves on the back, and jet off.
An earthquake in a Chinese Haiti might cause more deaths, since they cut safety codes more than others - but the Chinese would handle it and direct their own recovery competently.
5. No riots, real looting, or violence in any of these hypothetical countries for how their populace dealt with hurricanes, earthquakes, political fights. A competent government that put revenue and investment to wise use rather than disappear into "black holes".
6. A Jewish Haiti would be properous - yet able to wheedle 4-5 billion a year out of the US based on what Victims they claim they really are. Would be disliked by all their neighbors, and in the process of settling the 1/3rd of the Dominican Republic they grabbed.
7. In each, you would have people lined up anytime something bad happened asking what they can do as citizens to help with the recovery. Not lined up like Haitians or NOLA Scum screaming "Gimmie mo' stuff!", "When all de' outside people gonna come and put my fatherless family of 8 back in good shape??"

Nichevo said...

Oh, Victoria, I'm sure some appreciable fraction of the aid will get to Haiti; some appreciable fraction of that will get to where it's needed; some appreciable fraction of that will achieve necessary short-term results.

Just that it's trying to plow the ocean.

BJM said...

Don't forget Doctors Without Borders/MSF, an excellent org that toils in the world's hell holes. Our ENT doc volunteers his services and private plane to MSF in Latin America and has shared his experiences over the years.

MSF has been in Haiti for the last 19 years. Although their buildings were damaged they were assisting the injured immediately after the quake. MSF will remain in Haiti long after the big name orgs have moved on to the next disaster.

Nichevo said...

Ah, Cedarford, I shouldn't read your stuff while drinking. I almost messed up my monitor.

FYI, the everything-for-me people in Israel have sent about as much aid as the much larger and (presumably) more committed-to-its-former-colony France, and it's on the ground working now, including the field hospital. I don't have breakdowns on US charity by tribe, but I'm confident that American Jews are giving plenty, as they always do.

Really, I was just trying to help you out with ideas. You never say what should be done with our wicked selves, and I know you can't be happy with us living out our wicked lives in peace here, so why not deports us all? Since Jews like Florida, sunny Haiti should be even better. Win-win!

As for your "cheapshots" re: foreign aid and land grabs, well, Haiti would be much more prosperous and safer than Israel, being a fertile island nation, under care of the Monroe Doctrine, and not surrounded on all sides by psychotic fanatics who use their hands for toilet paper.

Also, the real Haiti is no stranger to land grabs at the expense of DR, yet does not have to contend with suicide bombers (viz., psychotic fanatics, above) waving pathetic junk-sale front-door-keys and claiming a right of return to Port-au-Prince. More likely would be DR asking for a merger. Welcome to the UN, nation of Hispaniolawitz!

I only wish their numbers would increase tenfold. Nonetheless they would all be properly housed, prosperous, happy, and working on both superconductors and Caribbean versions of hummus, which would take American supermarkets by storm. Probably more Jews being imported to play pro baseball, too.

Watching people like you choke on your own vomit, that would just be a bonus.

Oh deary me, C4, my first belly laugh of the day. Thank you so much. Just for that, we'll kill you last.

TW: Tallim. A towm im Estomia where Cedarford's braim-brothers in Mazi Germany and Soviet Russia tried to eradicate us and our culture, but ultimately failed.

BJM said...

@C4

The same could be said of Mexico, could it not?

Dependence on single crop agriculture, slavery, illiteracy, class/caste system and corrupt colonial/political system screwed Haiti from the get-go.

Haiti agreed to make reparations to French slaveholders in exchange for French recognition of its independence.

This bankrupted the Haitian treasury and mortgaged Haiti's future to the French banks providing the funds for the large first installment. Thus permanently sending Haiti into a downward spiral of debt, corruption, class warfare, dependence and poverty.

Perhaps this is Haiti's bottom and with First World assistance they will rebuild from the rubble; but I wouldn't bet on it. There are too many self-serving NGOs waiting in the wings for the international ATM to begin dispensing funds.

k*thy said...

You're right - what a purely simple and wonderful thing we can all do. Thanks.

Cedarford said...

I have to ask 'rebuild what?"

This is country with no trees or natural resources for building materials.

This is country with no mineral deposits.

This is a country that produces nothing that it can sell in the world in order to obtain the goods necessary to sustain its population.

Haiti can NOT produce even enough food for its people - a fact which is unsurprising given the population density.

Haiti's population has gone up 10times since 1906 - then around 1,000,000 and now close to 10,000,000. They have bred and reproduced at nearly 4 -5 times the rate of the rest of the world - and all the while lacking sufficent food shelter and other basics even if you divided all income in the courty equally among the population.

It has a population density of 936 people per mile. That means if all the land were divided into equal amounts among the population, every person would have an area exactly 172 feet x 172 feet. And that much land can not produce enough food for them to survive - and forget about yielding raw materials with which to build structures.

Quite simply Haiti has become a barren land without the resources support its population - and suffers from gross over-population relative to the environment. ANd short of removing at least 80% of the people, the land can not support the population and the population can not afford to import goods.

50% of the populations is under 15 - and they weill start breeding in the next 5 to 20 years, and unless soemthing changes, it will be at the same rate as their elders. Perhaps birth control drugs need to be sent along with disaster rescue.

The only species that does not instinctively reduce its rate of reproduction when its food supplies diminishes and its habits shrink is the human species. Kind of stupid to breed until there is no food, ne shelter and no resources left.

Too many people, no natural resources, not enough land to grow food for the population......there is not solution that leaves the population in place. ANd spending billions of dollars trying to change by building structures and homes and schools or by changing the government is not going to alter the problem one bit.

The Drill SGT said...

In video footage, I have been struck by one thing.

Obviously, they is no surviving government organization. Understand why.

what I don't understand is that I have not seen any former Haitian civil servants crystalize around the military presence at the airfield.

By that I mean, OK, the cop walks to the police station and its pancaked, fine...

but in most places, some percentage of those cops would walk down to the airport and find some US SGT in a beret and attempt to volunteer in some compacity...

have seen none of that so far. Only white faces doing interface to the victims.

Almost Ali said...

Where the UN is involved, if one dollar in ten gets through to where it's needed - that's success, a big success.

If you've been following the news, particularly CNN, than you know the UN has been up to no good - hiring rabblerousers, spreading rumors of poisoned food, claiming armed gangs are roaming the streets, even pulling desperately needed doctors and nurses out of field hospitals, for "security." CNN's Dr Sanjay Gupta had a firsthand report, as he personally witnessed these UN tactics - which are typical around the UN world.

In spite of the firsthand reporting, however, media dupes in general are still taking the UN's lies as biblical proclamations.

Equally disturbing has been the non-response from the US military. The general in charge, Gen. Keane, has been absent from duty - MIA, missing in action. I expect the Pentagon will issue an Amber Alert for this sorry specimen presently.

Almost Ali said...

Thanks to confiscated donations, the UN is now operating the biggest black market in Haiti - reselling everything from water to bandaids.

While General Keane sits on his sorry, waiting-for-retirement ass.

Beth said...

Never underestimate the competitive spirit of human beings. Even when they should be doing something without motivation, they often don't.

That's why Sandra Bullock announces it when she gives $1 million to Haiti (and to New Orleans' public schools) - it's a throw down to her peers. Good for her.

Nichevo said...

Bwahaha! I said that even the aid that got to Haiti would be stolen, didn't I? I just didn't quite see the obvious, that if there weren't enough thieves in Haiti the UN would airlift 'em in!

Bwahahahahhahaha!

TW: thernath. In thernath of the Haiti quake, UN looters descend upon the troubled land like locusts eating up their sustenance.


BTW...does anyone disbelieve this? Does anyone think the various UN scandals are all hoaxes? LOLOLOLOL

BTW 2...Cedarford, that way madness lies. Unless you want to go hunting Haitians for sport like a 2010 remake of Hard Target, if you say they can't survive there, you KNOW the next uproar will be from All Your Favorite People And Groups, demanding they be resettled here!

That said, looking at the CIA World Factbook...wow, they ARE screwed. Maybe they and the Maldives, straight swap?

bagoh20 said...

You can't teach a child trapped under a ton of concrete how to fish. It's an emergency. People are bleeding and dying right now. If this happened at Harvard, people would still need help from outside. Nobody would be saying those Harvard people need to learn how to take care of themselves. This has nothing to do with making them dependent, it's about stopping the bleeding. The rest of it is for another time, past and future.

bagoh20 said...

Lonewacko, you should listen once in a while instead of expecting everyone to read your crap. You don't even know there was an earthquake in Haiti? They aren't just hungry because they don't take care of themselves - the freaking buildings fell on them.

Nichevo said...

Yeah, bagoh, we know, and we're going to help. The thing is we're going to help KNOWING what a balls-up it will all be, even under the best possible circumstances (and knowing circumstances will be other than best).

Yes, yes, we should all get over the bitterness, ignore the fact that the President has practically declared Haiti the 51st State, and personally contribute until our asses hurt.

In Judaism there is a tradition that, even when you know the beggar is shamming, or brought his misfortunes on himself, you should still give. So, while giving, we don't have to fool ourselves too, do we? That's all I'm saying.

bagoh20 said...

They aren't all the same person. It's a nation of people some thieves, some innocent victims. I was not in favor of sending them tons of money without careful scrutiny before the earthquake and won't be after the current emergency is over, but as I said, this just is not the time to get careful all of a sudden. Dealing with emergencies is by nature chaotic, wasteful and easily exploited, it just is no matter where it is.

If this happened in the U.S., and other countries sent us aid, you know damn well some of our well educated and trained "fishermen" would be skimming plenty for themselves before it got to anyone needy. Our local thieves would likely already be wealthier than 99% of Haitians when they did this. Such corruption is not limited to this island. It is just an unfortunate obstacle to saving lives, and should not stop us from trying.

Nichevo said...

There is in fact no point whatsoever to sending money TO Haiti. There is nothing in Haiti TO BUY. Money should (arguendo) be sent FOR Haiti to US trusted charities so they can buy stuff OUTSIDE Haiti and ship it INTO Haiti.

Haiti does not need money, Haiti needs stuff. Haiti needs food and water and stoves and medicine and yada yada yada. I suppose this can function as a stimulus program for makers of survival food, water, blankets, flashlights, etc.

Meanwhile once we clean up all the bodies for them and have them all on life support in tent or CONEX cities, 10M useless mouths costing surely no less than $100M/day to keep alive, can we look ahead to what is to be done with them? Or do we have to be committed to spend $36.5B/yr, forever, just to keep their bodies and souls together, huddled where they are in refugee camps?

I mean, should we be thinking mass exodus to Brazil maybe?

On the bright side, it seems, as Drill SGT says, if there is no government left in Haiti, so we can kinda do what we want...I wasn't indicting all Haitians per se so much as the system over there.

Then again, you can't just blame a system for piling up corpses as roadblocks, there is no government in place telling them to pile up corpses. The Haitian national genius seems to have come up with that one solo. Maybe Haiti can help Mel Gibson write the next Mad Max sequel...

Not quite Pottery Barn, we didn't break it, but nonetheless we don't want to own it.


SGT - wait - Obama was speaking to Haitian Pres. Preval, so he must be alive. Wow, that seems to make all the difference, lol.

bagoh20 said...

"There is in fact no point whatsoever to sending money TO Haiti."

Of course. That's not even possible.