This circulated recently and it’s complete bullshit. The first thing you’ll notice is the math is all wrong. 1,400,000,000 divided by 300,000,000 is not 4,3000,000. It’s 4.33. So everyone would get $4.33. Except the expenses of distributing that money would gobble up most of the $4.33 and everyone would get $1.50. And then they’d have to pay taxes on it and they’d end up owing more money than they received (because they’re not exactly Apple or Google, who have a knack for not paying taxes).
But that’s not the real reason it’s so much bullshit. It’s bullshit because it’s asking other people to solve the world’s problems. It’s bullshit because we’re hoping some other dude will take care of the problems for us. He’s rich right? He should be the one that does this stuff for us.
Well here’s some news. You’re rich too. You might not think you’re particularly rich but you already have access to the internet and some kind of internet device (not one of those fucking iPhones is it, that cost about a years wages in Cambodia?) so I know you’ve got more money than most of the rest of the world. Yes, my friends, you are stinking rich. You probably have access to the kind of medical care that 90% of the world only dreams about. Enjoy it my friend, live it up. Buy an ice-cream. It’s a trivial purchase but also out of the reach of many people.
I like being rich. I’m not particularly well off compared to most people I know. In fact, like many, I struggle a bit at times and I worry about my finances. But it’s hard to deny just how goddamn rich I am. And why should I? I’m born fortunate and I should appreciate the riches I’ve inherited.
However, there comes with these great riches some responsibility. Even at our poorest, when the mortgage on our McMansions seems a bit too daunting, when we wonder if we really needed that big-arse SUV to make us feel like we were king of the road, when the bill comes back from the resort holiday…even then we’re still way better off than everyone else. And we should give a little.
So here’s the pitch. Pick a charity or two and set-up a monthly payment. Give to them no matter what other pressures you’ve got. I support, among others, Medicines San Frontiers. That way I know, no matter what kind of crap is going on in the world, from ebola in Congo to wars in Syria, I’m giving a tiny bit of support. (I also respect the hell out of those doctors and staff who work in those places. Hat’s off people.) I also give locally to a few smaller things, like annual events for disabled children. Blah blah blah, this isn’t about me and if I ever have to tell anyone about my charity then it isn’t really charity, it’s just me giving money to make myself feel like a better person. The point here is, those are two small examples, and you can pick some stuff that interests you and give a little money. Do it. And stop clicking on the crap on Facebook.
Helping That Costs Nothing
If you’re the sort of person who doesn’t like giving away money, then don’t! I know a perfectly good scheme for supporting people that doesn’t cost anything. It’s called micro-loans. You give a little money, about $25, and that contributes to a loan of about $1,000. By loaning this money you are supporting farmers, businesses and students in some of the world’s poorest countries. They just about always pay the money back so at the end you’re not even out of pocket. Meanwhile you have provided valuable investment money for people who can’t otherwise access it. My wife finances through Kiva and Good Returns. She’s helped finance piglets, fertilizer, student loans, tuk tuks, and a bunch of other stuff. I help choose the recipients based on an equitable system that involves choosing people because I like their name, their smile, or I tell my wife “piglets!” and she finds some piglets to fund.
The message here is pretty simple. If you’ve ever asked, why don’t they do something, then ask yourself who the hell They are. If you’re ever thought, why don’t the rich give more, start with yourself buddy. If you’ve ever shared some bullshit on Facebook and thought you’d done some good in the world (Koni 2012 anyone? Pink tusks for elephants anyone?) then start now by sharing some of that cash you got. There’s more in your pocket right now than some will see this month. Give a little. And stop worrying so much about what other people are or are not doing. You can lead by example.