Thursday, April 24, 2008

Proxy-ism 1995.

If I have offended anyone, in any way, the next few columns should square things by offending everyone I might have missed. I'm as compassionate and concerned as the next guy, possibly more so than many, but with so many things making so little sense, I can't help but wonder if there is a reset button we've overlooked. Looking at how things work (or don't work) together towards a common goal and how we define these goals, isn't fun these days. Our public, private and individual interests fly past us, leaving little time for contemplation of any one aspect, before another demands our fleeting attention. The need to do it all, has forced us to place our trust in others and hope for the best. On many fronts we're getting creamed.
Tackling them one at a time, in no particular order, and leaving Proviso to wonder...

Professional begging and the proliferation of platforms from which to tug at our heartstrings, begs looking at how we practice what the preachers preach. When the corporate sponsors line up to hand Jerry Lewis or his emissaries their check, we are told what a loving and benevolent thing is being done. The figures are impressive, the company logo is slick, but aren't they basically giving somebody else's money in the company's name? It's an expedient way to promote charity; just tack a tiny amount on to every unit sold and present it on national television as a lump-sum donation.

I'm not about to suggest that a nuero-muscular disease isn't a terrible affliction, or that the money isn't helping to search for a cure and aid the families of those who are dealing with it. I just wonder at the process we've developed to fund such vital and necessary things and how it has spilled over into most other areas of our lives.

Sharing the load is an important concept. Pooling resources is largely what being American is all about. Day in and day out, we open our hearts and wallets to seemingly endless pleas for our help and assistance. We prove every day that we are kind and giving society, willing and all too eager to share the load. Whether it's a fundraiser for the local school or a nationwide drive, we bend over backwards lest be mistaken for a heartless scrooge.

To question the magic that makes it all possible is unthinkable. Perhaps I shouldn't wonder about the profit split when I buy product from the little merchants raising money for (insert your current fund drive here). Maybe their organization would be better off if I simply donated the cash, without buying the (insert your fundraising product here). In the long run, wouldn't it be better to do away with the disguise? An honest appeal, for a worthwhile endeavor, with nothing exchanged; except a modest sum for a warm feeling.

I know it sounds bizarre, but when you add up all of the fractions that go towards making corporate sponsorships possible, plus the nickels, dimes and dollars necessary to keep the fundraising industry afloat, plus the empty calories, cavities, pounds gained eating the goodies and the collateral health costs, plus the impact on more obscure, but nonetheless catastrophic afflictions, plus the frustrating and detrimental effect of bogus charities..., it all begins to take on an unrecognizable form.

Costs, regardless of origin, are not absorbed, they are only passed on down the line.

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