Atlas Shrugged: The Mocking

Friday, July 4, 2008

Is it ironic, or merely consequential?

Megan asks her readers to assist an injured fellow blogger. That's decent of her. A commenter responds:

After looking at a couple sites asking for donations to the relief fund, I
have to say that I would feel more comfortable donating (and be more likely to
do so) if I knew how high the medical bills are and could see how close the goal
is to achievement -- and that the recipients get the money. Otherwise the
request is rather opaque to those of us who don't know anyone involved
If this sounds cynical, that's not how I mean it. It's just that
I wish skepticism were more widespread when it came to financial transactions in
our society. Instead, P.T. Barnum's dictum remains as relevant today as ever,
and we thus get property bubbles, phishing and bilked consumers crying for more
state regulation "for our own protection."

All those posts Megan wrote using high-minded theories to justify her lack of empathy for others are now bearing their fruit. The poster worries that the money will be misused, misappropriated, or enjoyed, perhaps. In other words, he has no sympathy for the victim, and no desire to donate any money. He justifies himself with blather about opacity, regulation and theft, but he really just doesn't care.

How many posts has Megan written that say the exact same thing about other unfortunates, one illness, accident or firing away from serious economic disaster? How many times has she justified indifference and callousness? Now she asks others to do what she's always dismissed, and naturally some of her fans give her back a bit of her own.

He who lives by the sword, dies by the sword.

UPDATE: The same commenter posts again in a different tone, saying he'll donate.


zeppo said...

You know, the commenter's concern is probably not misplaced. Did you see that story about some fundraising done for some third tier Republican candidate in Florida, I think it was? Hundreds of thousands of dollars were raised, and only something like $16,000 was actually used on the race. Every other dollar went directly to the fundraisers coffers... I don't think that is illegal, but it sure is unethical. But what I thought hilarious was that these rethugs were DOING IT TO THEMSELVES! Scamming money from the Republican hard-core base, and then sticking it directly in their pockets! Pretty funny.

So, in a way, I can see where these guys might be a tad skeptical.

Anonymous said...

I'll back Zeppo up on this. Perhaps it's because of the industry I work in, but I'm used to funding being accompanied by strings to enforce accountability.

After all, we're not talking about a blank request. This was a request for a specific purpose. The giver isn't wrong to expect some sort of verification that they aren't being bilked.

Now, it may be callousness, or it may be simple realism. Look, if people can't trust that their donations will go to the intended purposes, they won't donate. So if you want people to be generous, you have to maintain faith in the process.

Susan of Texas said...

That's very reasonable, and someone donating money should make sure it's going to be used well. Once you do that, however, it's better to just let it go, and not worry about what they're doing with the money. That is, if it's a donation for the friend of a friend, in a way, or a donation to a relative.

If I gave or loaned my mom or sister money, I wouldn't ask for back. It's too easy to let bad feeling develop. I'd probably feel differently if it were a more formal situation, though.