12/05/07 THE MUMMY'S TOOTH #3


In this modern age, is the value of a man's charitable donation lessened if he's a total jackass about it?

Clearly it does in the karmic sense; you won't get any points for dropping a grand in the collection plate and then announcing it to the world. That isn't you doing a good deed -- that's an advertising fee.

And yet, on the recieving side of things, a dollar is still a dollar, so who cares how it got there? The question that I'm really positing is this: is it possible that the poor would benefit more if people were encouraged to be obnoxious about their donations?

The rule of donations, for the civilian public, has always been to keep them on the downlow. Bragging about the money you've given is crass, and protractedly doing so in any company beyond your fellow total jackasses will eventually land you a well-deserved punch to the crotch. And yet, at the same time, nobody bats an eye when a major corporation makes a $100,000 donation and then launches a twenty-million-dollar ad campaign to tell everybody about it:

"Microsoft wants to remind you, this holiday season, how much we care about the poor, oppressed peoples of the tiny, third-world nation of Crapistan. This much: A hundred thousand freakin' dollars. We must be great. Merry Christmas, people of Crapistan, now a division of Microsoft."

And these corporations are major players in the charity world, regardless of their often-reprehensible motivations. Corporations exist only for the sake of furthering themselves -- if you forced corporations to give money anonimously, you'd have removed their only real motivation for donations beyond the occasional tax break, and the poor who depend on their gloating, self-satisfied donations would suffer immeasurably.

Take a cross-section of the human race, and you'll find that a significantly large portion of them operate on the same, self-serving philosophies of your major corporations. There's simply no changing this -- and for that reason, it's high time that this facet was exploited for the greater good, honor be darned.

For too long, the obnoxious jerks of the human race have been able to shield themselves under the wallet-protecting umbrella of a system of donating that favors nobody ever telling anyone what they've done. In a world where you're not supposed to tell anyone how totally better you are than everyone else, simple nods and vague fibs have been substituted for actual charity far too often. For the sake of the poor, it only makes sense that we begin encouraging amount-specific boasting of charitable donations amongst our private citizens as a socially-acceptable activity.

The obvious downside to this policy? The obnoxious jerks would just get more obnoxious and jerkier, and we'd all have to pretend we liked it, for the greater good. The upside? They're gonna be obnoxious regardless of our involvement, so why not use them for good?

Some ground rules would naturally have to be set:

One -- all boasts would have to be immediately and publicly verifiable. Private, anonymous donations would still be allowed, of course, but you'd have to sign a waiver accepting heavy fines should you, at any time, make mention of a donation that cannot be tracked in the database.

Two -- All donations would have to be made with at least one degree of separation between donor and donee. The reason for this is obvious -- obnoxious jerks do not become obnoxious jerks by forgiving debts and letting-be old favors. Your typical obnoxious jerk will remember every favor he has performed for anyone over the past decade, no matter how minor, with elephant-like powers of recollection -- and he's not likely to let them forget it, no sir. Any obnoxious jerk worth his salt will be poking you in the chest four years down the road, asking if you remember the time he helped you move a mattress down two flights of stairs (you do, but only because he asked you the same question in two-week intervals since the actual favor was performed).

Naturally, such persons must never be given direct access to the actual people their donations aid; recieving charity is demoralizing enough without having to wake up to some jerk standing in the door of your hovel, making sure you're not spending your aid money on booze. Thankfully, the current charitable-foundation structure is usually sufficient to head off most people going that extra, stalker-ish mile to monitor the well-being of their charges.

Three -- Though boasting should be encouraged, competition must also be fostered amongst the jackasses. The reason for this rule is that jackasses are not without their own, twisted senses of community, and once they realize that they're being played, their natural tendencies will be to band together and drive down the national MBDA, or Minimum Boastable Donation Amount. Obnoxious jerks must not be allowed to applaud other obnoxious jerks, lest standing ovations be regularly exchanged over gifts of canned cream corn.

With these rules in place, we can and will gain an excellent rate of advancement in the war on poverty, even if we have to maneuver our way around a bunch of self-important buttmunches to do so. Godspeed, obnoxious jerks, godspeed!



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