Thursday, April 17, 2008

Charitably Speaking

MPR's Head Counter in Chief Bob Collins poses a question to which I think I have an answer:
Are we more talk than walk?

Answer: yes.

Ha! OK, let's be less vague. He starts with a pie chart which I will shamelessly hotlink, since my tax dollars are paying for its bandwidth:

Awesome. There's a lot of altruistic people out there. Bob gets a "bingo" with this next graf:

It would seem that if the 87% who would like to do more, actually did more, then not quite as many people would be struggling. Armed with only anecdotal evidence, I'm going to theorize that 87% of the people are not going to do more and a sizeable number aren't doing that much now.

I have obliquely said as much before on this here ThunderJournal; Including my recent Lenfestey-inspired diatribe lamenting all the great things that could be done with all the money wasted in donations to political campaigns, parties and 527s. Bob then poses the $50,000 question:

Why not?

And comes right up against at least part of the answer (with another awesomely hotlinkable chart):

Maybe the answer is in this graph, which takes into account the answers of all the respondents in the northwest area.

Maybe we don't think our help will make a difference, so we don't "do more" to help. Or maybe we each speak a different language when it comes to "doing more." A closer look at the survey shows that a large percentage said they would be willing to get together to talk about ways to help. Others said they would be willing to talk to an elected official. Seventy-eight percent said they would take part in a church project to help someone. A somewhat smaller group said they would adopt a family temporarily if they were struggling. About the same number said they would pay another $50 in taxes.

And there it is. Almost. I would add only this: why on earth would someone volunteer time, money and / or effort when they can just vote for some jagoff who will make them feel as altruistic. The only effort required is 5 minutes at a polling station, a pull of the lever for your local machine Democrat, and then you can go forth and proclaim to the world how compassionate you are. Giving feels good. To the feeble minded and selfish, feeling like you gave while doing nothing feels just as good.

And let's face it: in most cases that compassion is going to be extracted forcibly from someone other than yourself.

The takeaway from all this, I think, is that people are well-meaning, but lazy. And possibly cheap. I'm sick of you all. Eat shit and die.

Ha! Just kidding.

The takeaway is that if we actually did more to make the experience in our own spheres of influence better, starting with ourselves and our own families and then working our way out to neighbors communities etc., we wouldn't need politicians so much. And a country in which politicians are relegated to the back seat of civic life (as the founders of this country intended) is way better than the train wreck of overwrought bullshit we see and read every day.

The downside: we'd have less free time to cram those insipid "Happy to pay more" signs up the asses of all those fools who know they'll never be forced to.

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