06 August 2010

Charitable genus or over zealous soliciting?

My roommate today brought up "The Giving Pledge" while I was putting tremendous effort and while simultaneously reaping little benefit as I struggled my way through the wii fit obstacle course game. I would think it very likely that she was trying to distract me from obliterating her previously achieved scores, if the truth wasn't that I still had yet to even finish a level on that particular game.

I was honestly looking for any excuse to be able to pause the game and still retain what little dignity I had left and took her mention of this seemingly generous fairy-tale like offer of benevolence as my escape rope.

Here's the scope on "The Giving Pledge": the wealthiest people in America are being asked to pledge to donate the majority of their wealth to charitable causes and organizations of their choice.

I'm not sure why this bothers me because the reality is that I am poor and you would think I would be happy with what this could mean for people in my same situation or worse.

Yet the bigger reality is that I cannot help but think that this demands too much. Yes the rich are rich and it is easy--especially with this economy to hate them for it--but I just can't.

I've thought about it and if I could be rich I would and I would hope I would remember my roots and be kind to those who need it most. Even so I cannot not say I dislike the rich for being rich really, because we can't all be poor. Could you imagine an America were everyone is impoverished? It's a horrifying thought and I don't think it's what any of us want.

Now, I'm not arguing that the rich shouldn't be charitable--I think they should--the point I'm stressing is it's not realistic to think every or even half of America's elite population is going to want to pledge the majority of their wealth and in fact it irks me to think that not only do we want to demand that they give, we want to tell them how to donate their own money.

It is important to remember that not all of the wealthy people in America are old money, there is plenty of nouveau riche who have worked hard--at least semi-hard--to make their fortune and frankly who would want to donate half of their wealth even if they are a a triple-platinum billionaire? Only a saint and their aren't to many of those left in the world.

It's easy to have all the opinions, and to criticize someone else's plan but it's a little harder to actually come up with a feasible alternative plan. For what it's worth I do have something in mind and will gladly share it if the readers of this fake column of mine promise to hold their applause until the very end.

If the wealthy would agree to donate a lump sum of money, even perhaps below a million dollars, that money could be put into creating a local business that would be able to not only sustain itself fully without any other support from the initial donor could create jobs, stimulate the economy and also donate the majority of it's profit to specific charitable organizations. It seems to me that smart choices create even smarter solutions and with the right motivation and attitude a lot can be done with a little. This plan could actually please everyone; the rich stay rich, while the poor simultaneously become less poor.

I'm sure some economist like my good friend Patricia, is going to come a long and find enough wholes in my theory to make my idea resemble swiss cheese, but I think this idea is a solid start and a decent model of finding a solution that benefits all parties.

Perhaps I like playing the devil's advocate but I enjoy a good debate. I like how it makes the wheels turn in my dusty vacant brain and in this instance I think their are many sides to consider and plenty of alternative options to be had.

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