Tuesday, April 21, 2015

Don't Give Them a Hand Out, Give Them a Hand Up: Smash the State!

One way to make sure all your friends and acquaintances think you're a total dick is to give them the real deal on charity.  And if that doesn't do it, talk to them about recycling.

There's already a whiff of sulfur around charity.  We think of blow-dryed billionaire 80's Michael Douglas clones (clowns) writing five and six figure checks easier than we give the guy on the corner spare change for bus fare/booze/smack.  We know that those checks are the price for not having to see the darkness of the system he creates.  We know it is the false face of compassion.

Charity is, as our Randy right wing friends love to tell us, a hand out.  Just like welfare, which is essentially government charity.  There is, of course, a good reason Adam Smith expounds on the necessity of welfare: it is the ether that gets sprayed into the carburetor of capitalism.  Charity/welfare is the salve that keeps revolution at bay.

Because, you see, charity never addresses the structural issues that put people on the street to begin with.  You could hand the guy on the corner a grand, and even if he is frugal, that grand is going to run out, and he's back where he started.  Now Rand guy will tell you that charity/welfare is bad, and rather than hand him a fish, you should teach him how to catch his own fish.  True enough, perhaps, but more than likely he's not on the street because he doesn't know how to fish, but because the only ponds he has access to are already fished out.

Recycling, like charity, seems like a good idea, but does nothing to address the core problem.  Good intentions aren't the guarantor of good results.  Band aids won't cure skin cancer.  Recycling is a drop in the ocean of gross overproduction.

I won't tell anyone to abstain from charity, just as I would never condemn anyone for throwing that beer bottle in the recycling bin.  What I won't tolerate is the self-righteous glow of charity: don't pretend for a second you are addressing the problem, don't think for a minute you are making a real difference.

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