::  Posts  ::  RSS  ::  ◂◂RSS  ::  Contact

Underselling Donation

November 23rd, 2012
giving  [html]
I just read Esther Katcoff's article on her experience as a Peace Corps volunteer in Paraguay. After her iPod broke she was hit with a wave a guilt over the prospect of buying a new one when there were people who had so little. While she decided not to buy one:
I couldn't just donate the money saved. I was an Urban Studies major. I knew about the complications of development work, the band-aid solutions, the causes that just sound good, the charity that unmotivates the beneficiaries, the money that doesn't always reach the ground. The only way, I told myself, the only way is to understand completely what the people need to fish themselves out of their lake.

I tell people I joined the Peace Corps to understand what it means to be poor, but that's just part of the story. I joined the Peace Corps to figure out how to escape the guilt of having so much while other people have so little.

The rest of the article is her struggling with the guilt of having more than the people around her while in Paraguay. Reading this makes me sad in the same way as the story of Charles Gray: in both cases they worked hard and sacrificed a lot along an approach that offered a poor tradeoff between self-sacrifice and others-benefit.

While the donation complications she brings up ("band-aid solutions", "causes that just sound good", ...) are real, you can avoid them by choosing good charities. This lets your money have an effect that is, on balance, strongly positive.

How can we get earning to give to be more widely considered as an option?

Comment via: google plus, facebook

Recent posts on blogs I like:

Trip Chaining, Redux

There’s been an ongoing conversation about how public transport can be used for non-work trips (and what it means for women) that makes me go back to something I wrote in 2012 about trip chaining. In that post I asserted a distinction between long and sho…

via Pedestrian Observations June 13, 2019

Unintended pregnancy in folk songs

I’ve been listening to a lot of the Watersons and Waterson:Carthy this week. It’s reminded me how absolutely full British folk music is of songs about unintended pregnancy. Most commonly the result is unhappy motherhood: “But if I had kent that I now ken …

via The whole sky June 1, 2019

Programmer migration patterns

I made a little flow chart of mainstream programming languages and how programmers seem to move from one to another. There's a more common kind of chart, which shows how the languages themselves evolved. I didn't want to show the point of view of …

via apenwarr March 18, 2019

via openring

More Posts:


  ::  Posts  ::  RSS  ::  ◂◂RSS  ::  Contact