Jan 15th, 2005

Aidez Moi

I was out and about today, and everywhere I went people were asking me to contribute to charity. Which is all fine and dandy, and I do give, but on my own time, and with my own dime. With my own dime being the operative word here, because most of the people asking for my help today weren't people at all, but corporations.
The clerk at Marshall's asked if I'd like to contribute to tsunami relief, because I could just charge that extra amount along with my purchase of towels and gym clothes. Of course, I couldn't take it as a charitable deduction on my taxes, because the bill would just say Marshall's. Marshall's, by contrast, could then use my contribution as part of their overall expenditure and claim that they, Marshall's, had given x millions of dollars to the relief effort. They could, and they would, and they would never mention that the money came from their customers' pockets and not the corporate bottom line.

You want to donate to tsunami relief? Send clothing and linens and cold, hard cash from the corporate coffers. Use your own net worth to do good, not mine.

The same goes for the grocery store. I'm buying food for my own table, and they are asking me to chip in a few extra bucks for their corporate charity. No. No, I won't. Let your corporate VIPS unlock their own wallets and do the deed.

When I was at the hospital, we were big on the United Way. Every body had to cough up for the public good. Except, I worked on the campaign and I could see who gave what, and let me tell you, those VPs who are still there, collecting their big old paychecks, while I'm out on the street looking for my next job? They didn't give a third of what I did, and they made twice as much. Some of them didn't give at all, or gave a check for a Franklin. But down the line, they were giving orders that the rank and file under them should be giving it up for the poor.

Now that I'm one of the poor, or at least one of the unemployed (and just for the record, I work in one of those fields that the Shrub suggested unemployed people learn how to do at their local community college when they lose their factory jobs) it really rankles me that I'm being asked to foot the bill for corporate America's purely cosmetic acts of charity.