Wednesday, June 13, 2012

Charitable organizations lose out to politics - Published in the Centre Daily Times June 2012

Sometimes it seems we’re on nearly every US charity’s mailing list.  Their letter writers put together thick envelopes packed with pages with underlined points and yellow highlighted passages explaining what they’d do with our money.  Sometimes we donate, and sometimes we don’t.  Either way, we always keep the free address labels they usually send (thanks everyone).

Now that it’s election season, though, the charities have competition.  Politicians everywhere are carpet bombing America asking for donations to their campaigns. The pleas are written by the same writers, it seems – lots of pages filled with bold type and underlining, and passages highlighted with yellow. 
I’ve made a short study of these requests from both political parties.  To start with, I sent small token donations to Romney and Obama, and agreed to be on their mailing and emailing lists.  Since then, they’ve become close friends, sending me personal letters and emails nearly every day.  At the end of each note, though, comes the request for a handout, closing with something like ‘Will you stand with me?’  

They often send token goodies to their small donors.  Mitt Gear anyone?  Lapel pins, bumper stickers, signed photos, T-shirts are all available – for a price.  Same goes for Team Obama, who have also been trying to get my wife and me to eat with them if I’m chosen from their donor lists, pitching fancy dinners with the stars (Sarah Jessica Parker has become a recent email buddy).  Romney has countered with his own meal invitations, but he’s more frugal, offering to share a short lunch with him somewhere on the campaign trail.

Many of the emails, usually sent by campaign flunkies, are pretty nasty. They slam the other side, including the word ‘failure’ a lot, and often include links to videos that ‘I simply must see’, showing the ‘Truth about President Obama and how he’s destroying America’, or the ‘Truth about Governor Romney and how he ruined Massachusetts’.  Of course, the answer is always to send more money.

However, the most ridiculous and frantic requests come because the other side may have pulled ahead in the fundraising race, and plan to show new attack ads.  ‘You won’t believe what the Republicans/Democrats are saying about Obama/Romney this time; donate now so we can set the record straight.’  Why have our politicians lowered themselves to become common beggars?  Because we keep on giving to them.  It’s time to stop.  Every attack by the other side doesn’t mean they need another several million dollars to ‘fight back’ and re-attack.  I understand dangerous infinite loops – and this is one of them.

The money we give to charities feeds the hungry and heals the sick.  The money we give to politicians goes to fling dung at other politicians, helping nobody.  So, every time I get another email from a political beggar, I plan to donate to one of my charities.  I encourage you to do the same.  Instead of Democrats and Republicans raking in billions of dollars, imagine the boon year America’s charities would have with that extra funding.  Here’s to a record 2012 for the needy.

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