Author Topic: "Charity starts at home" vs GiveWell Philosophy  (Read 5189 times)

MMM365

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Re: "Charity starts at home" vs GiveWell Philosophy
« Reply #50 on: October 01, 2017, 06:00:57 AM »
This thread and discussion about the prior FU story have several layers. 

The original FU story with the generous employee giving the $5k raise towards elsewhere the impetus for this thread.  When looking at the original FU thread, I don't get the sense that the giver "GettingClose" felt that this was a charitable act, but rather an action of social justice.  Whether that is an effective way to change things or not is debatable, but the OP is working to live by his/her ideals (in this case, social justice and income equality), which to me, is very commendable.  However, this action is NOT charitable, which OP realizes and tells us: 

"there's a difference between charity and justice.  Can't articulate it very well; need to think more first" 

This "Charity starts at home . . . " thread is asking about whether that action was an effective way of donating.  As said above, the original OP, Gettingclose"  did not feel this was charitable or necessarily generous:  More an act of justice re: income inequality. 

If that's the case, I think the the fact that the OP is trying to live by ideals that are challenging, thinking outside of himself/herself are commendable. 



That being said, I do agree that there is a lot more to be said about charitable giving and responsibility that we might have. 
I also appreciate that in a forum where the primary goal is to live frugally to consider FIRE, that discussions of how charitable giving might play a role in that equation.  Arebelspy's comment about working longer to give more does deserve more discussion.  And Peter Singer's book is outstanding. 

jeninco

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Re: "Charity starts at home" vs GiveWell Philosophy
« Reply #51 on: October 01, 2017, 07:06:25 PM »
One of the problems that I don't think this thread has brought out yet is that "giving to charity" is outsourcing the issues: firstly it is about what other people are doing, and secondly it is a partial response to the issues rather than an "all in" response.  Even the "giving well" philosophy suffers from these issues.  I think the preferred response is a "living well" one -

1.  Before I was FIREd, I had a job with what I considered to be public utility.  Not going to lie: it was fascinating to me and paid well, although less well than the private sector.  But it was a job with a clearly defined public purpose and benefit to it, which I valued.

2.  After FIRE, I put a fair amount of effort into volunteering locally.  That includes being elected to my parish council and working to improve its decision-making and assisting various local volunteer groups with time and expertise.  (Does facepunching on case studies count as "international volunteering"?)

3.  I spend my money with thought.  I buy local produce and support local businesses with my money in preference to national or internet ones.  I limit my purchases but buy secondhand where I can, including clothes and household goods, to spare the environment.  My dog is a rescue rather than buying into the puppy industry when there are already too many dogs.

4.  I have two rental properties locally.  Luckily they have both been in considerable demand and I've had a choice of good tenants.  I choose those I think will contribute the most to my locality, for instance by sending children to the village school (it's an effort to keep it open, and having a village school helps keep the village community alive rather than turning into a commuter/holiday destination dormitory) and being employed locally.

All that happens before you even get into "what I give to charity" (which I do).  But in a sense all of it is about things which could be classed as charitable activities: through my actions I am supporting the rule of law, good governance, local employment and the local economy, the environment and animal charities.

The preferred charities I merely give money to are those which I think have highest utility and least support but which I am entirely unsuited to supporting through personal actions.  My biggest annual donation goes to the care of mentally disabled adults.

Thank you for articulating something that's been bothering me. I don't agree with the "all charity is inherently selfish" side of the argument, but I'm not sure that a lot of what I do is "charity" in that sense. However, I am making choices with my time, energy and $ to support my local community.

I spent all of yesterday helping my local ski patrol with their annual medical refresher. Technically, I was "volunteering." Practically, I had a fair amount of fun (and also wound up with a thin layer of ketchup and corn syrup over about half of me) and I learned a few things too. Also, 50+ people came away with a bunch to think about re: what to do when faced with difficult-to-control bleeding, and they'll use that knowledge going forward. When I try to categorize activities like that, I come down in "having fun while building a stronger, more resilient community." And, really, I'm "selfishly" spending my time making sure more people in my community have access to practice and information to help save lives.

(Edited, because apparently I couldn't decide between "thin" and "sticky" layer of ketchup and wound up with "think" which makes no sense.)
« Last Edit: October 02, 2017, 08:57:18 AM by jeninco »

arebelspy

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Re: "Charity starts at home" vs GiveWell Philosophy
« Reply #52 on: October 01, 2017, 07:42:44 PM »
Totally. That's a great, worthwhile activity. It's just not charity.
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GettingClose

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Re: "Charity starts at home" vs GiveWell Philosophy
« Reply #53 on: October 02, 2017, 10:47:28 AM »
This thread and discussion about the prior FU story have several layers. 

The original FU story with the generous employee giving the $5k raise towards elsewhere the impetus for this thread.  When looking at the original FU thread, I don't get the sense that the giver "GettingClose" felt that this was a charitable act, but rather an action of social justice.  Whether that is an effective way to change things or not is debatable, but the OP is working to live by his/her ideals (in this case, social justice and income equality), which to me, is very commendable.  However, this action is NOT charitable, which OP realizes and tells us: 

"there's a difference between charity and justice.  Can't articulate it very well; need to think more first" 

This "Charity starts at home . . . " thread is asking about whether that action was an effective way of donating.  As said above, the original OP, Gettingclose"  did not feel this was charitable or necessarily generous:  More an act of justice re: income inequality. 

If that's the case, I think the the fact that the OP is trying to live by ideals that are challenging, thinking outside of himself/herself are commendable. 



That being said, I do agree that there is a lot more to be said about charitable giving and responsibility that we might have. 
I also appreciate that in a forum where the primary goal is to live frugally to consider FIRE, that discussions of how charitable giving might play a role in that equation.  Arebelspy's comment about working longer to give more does deserve more discussion.  And Peter Singer's book is outstanding.

Yes, MMM365, you understand what I was trying to convey.

About actual charitable giving, I've become deeply cynical about the ability of money to fix problems.  If you look at the trillions of dollars poured into Africa over the past 200 years, and the billions of dollars into Haiti over the past 50 years (there were over 10,000 NGOs operating in Haiti before the 2012 earthquake - and this is a country of about 10 million people) ... it all seems to have accomplished very little.  The programs which seem to make the most long term difference involve family planning (for a huge variety of reasons, but most practically so that families don't have to continually split a small plot of land even smaller with each generation, preventing the overcrowding which causes so much unrest and tribal warfare) and education.  As someone upthread pointed out, good government makes the most difference of all, and is something that Jeffrey Sachs discusses at length. 

As anyone who's worked with homelessness in the US understands, 90% of the problem is not lack of houses; it's alcoholism, drug use, mental illness, and/or an unwillingness to tolerate rules (employers, landlords, banks, etc.)

Looking at members of my own family who live in poverty, the problem isn't lack of money; it's lack of long term planning, lack of executive function, inability to restrain impulses.

I don't mean to extrapolate the last two paragraphs to developing countries.

Anyway, I used to give hugely (20%+ of gross income) to charitable causes, but have become disillusioned.   This after working on international projects in developing countries, mission trips, etc. 
« Last Edit: October 02, 2017, 10:54:18 AM by GettingClose »

mm1970

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Re: "Charity starts at home" vs GiveWell Philosophy
« Reply #54 on: October 02, 2017, 11:29:31 AM »
Quote
bout actual charitable giving, I've become deeply cynical about the ability of money to fix problems.  If you look at the trillions of dollars poured into Africa over the past 200 years, and the billions of dollars into Haiti over the past 50 years (there were over 10,000 NGOs operating in Haiti before the 2012 earthquake - and this is a country of about 10 million people) ... it all seems to have accomplished very little.  The programs which seem to make the most long term difference involve family planning (for a huge variety of reasons, but most practically so that families don't have to continually split a small plot of land even smaller with each generation, preventing the overcrowding which causes so much unrest and tribal warfare) and education.  As someone upthread pointed out, good government makes the most difference of all, and is something that Jeffrey Sachs discusses at length. 

As anyone who's worked with homelessness in the US understands, 90% of the problem is not lack of houses; it's alcoholism, drug use, mental illness, and/or an unwillingness to tolerate rules (employers, landlords, banks, etc.)

Looking at members of my own family who live in poverty, the problem isn't lack of money; it's lack of long term planning, lack of executive function, inability to restrain impulses.

I don't mean to extrapolate the last two paragraphs to developing countries.

This is good.  I watched a documentary on Netflix (twice) about the charity "business" and how in some cases and some countries, it does little to no good.  It's big business and actually harms things.  I should watch it again. I think it was "Poverty, Inc."

I read a lot about economics, and poverty, and such.  I find it to be such a multi-faceted and difficult issue.  And people don't like hard things.  I got into an argument on a local news site about poverty - the article was about farmworkers.  The other guy was "a lifelong rancher, and trust me these guys get paid plenty".  But I think he was looking at his own narrow experience, in our county - and not looking to what it's like to be a farm worker elsewhere, in other places.  And he was thinking of one or two local crops.  Picking different things are ... well ... different.

And poverty is different for different people.  Not everyone has the skills or grit or luck to get themselves out of poverty, even with help.

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Re: "Charity starts at home" vs GiveWell Philosophy
« Reply #55 on: October 03, 2017, 12:41:22 AM »
One of the reasons we picked the homelessness charity that we did (St Mungos) is that it offers lifetime support to its clients. Any time they want, they can pick up the phone and ask for advice, come in for an appointment... I've done some art projects with homelessness charities and it really is about supporting the whole person. It can do wonders and sometimes they just keep falling. I bumped into a guy I did a project with two years ago. At the time he was an ex-alcoholic who was in his own home and working towards getting a job and setting up a meeting with his estranged daughter. When I saw him this summer he was drunk and smelled of piss and had lost all his teeth. But was just starting to re-engage with services and was hopeful that he could do better in the future. It's a long road.

AnnaGrowsAMustache

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Re: "Charity starts at home" vs GiveWell Philosophy
« Reply #56 on: October 03, 2017, 03:54:44 AM »
Quote
bout actual charitable giving, I've become deeply cynical about the ability of money to fix problems.  If you look at the trillions of dollars poured into Africa over the past 200 years, and the billions of dollars into Haiti over the past 50 years (there were over 10,000 NGOs operating in Haiti before the 2012 earthquake - and this is a country of about 10 million people) ... it all seems to have accomplished very little.  The programs which seem to make the most long term difference involve family planning (for a huge variety of reasons, but most practically so that families don't have to continually split a small plot of land even smaller with each generation, preventing the overcrowding which causes so much unrest and tribal warfare) and education.  As someone upthread pointed out, good government makes the most difference of all, and is something that Jeffrey Sachs discusses at length. 

As anyone who's worked with homelessness in the US understands, 90% of the problem is not lack of houses; it's alcoholism, drug use, mental illness, and/or an unwillingness to tolerate rules (employers, landlords, banks, etc.)

Looking at members of my own family who live in poverty, the problem isn't lack of money; it's lack of long term planning, lack of executive function, inability to restrain impulses.

I don't mean to extrapolate the last two paragraphs to developing countries.

This is good.  I watched a documentary on Netflix (twice) about the charity "business" and how in some cases and some countries, it does little to no good.  It's big business and actually harms things.  I should watch it again. I think it was "Poverty, Inc."

I read a lot about economics, and poverty, and such.  I find it to be such a multi-faceted and difficult issue.  And people don't like hard things.  I got into an argument on a local news site about poverty - the article was about farmworkers.  The other guy was "a lifelong rancher, and trust me these guys get paid plenty".  But I think he was looking at his own narrow experience, in our county - and not looking to what it's like to be a farm worker elsewhere, in other places.  And he was thinking of one or two local crops.  Picking different things are ... well ... different.

And poverty is different for different people.  Not everyone has the skills or grit or luck to get themselves out of poverty, even with help.

I don't think that most people realise that things like seeds are branded products. A great deal of research goes into breeding plants that are disease resistant and weather hardy, and seeds from those plants are sold under a brand. They're beyond the means of many of the poor people in the world. And so it the kind of fertiliser and weed/pest control that our farmers take for granted. Add to that the fact that many of the poorest parts of the world are in severe drought conditions, and you've got a situation where many people in developing countries cannot grow enough to feed their families, regardless of the work they put in. They can't even START the process on a level playing field with our farmers. Even if they do work in an primary industry that is highly productive and lucrative, like bananas or coffee or chocolate, they get paid a starvation wage because rich westerners demand things cheaper and cheaper with no thought at all to the people at the other end.

"Not everyone has the skills or grit or luck to get themselves out of poverty, even with help."

This may well be true. But I think it's usually because they're not getting the right kind of help. I doubt that going into a village of starving kids and educating them in a subsistence level society is really of any help. And we can see from the ongoing situations all over the world, situations that are just as dire 40 years on, that this is pointless. If you want to help, give them access to credit, for example via microfinancing. Give them the ability to invest in skills they can use to support their families. Give them access to global products at a fair price (I'm looking at you, agricultural companies), and choose to buy fair trade products so that these people get paid for their labour.

mm1970

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Re: "Charity starts at home" vs GiveWell Philosophy
« Reply #57 on: October 03, 2017, 05:37:15 PM »
Quote
This may well be true. But I think it's usually because they're not getting the right kind of help. I doubt that going into a village of starving kids and educating them in a subsistence level society is really of any help. And we can see from the ongoing situations all over the world, situations that are just as dire 40 years on, that this is pointless. If you want to help, give them access to credit, for example via microfinancing. Give them the ability to invest in skills they can use to support their families. Give them access to global products at a fair price (I'm looking at you, agricultural companies), and choose to buy fair trade products so that these people get paid for their labour.
yes

GetItRight

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Re: "Charity starts at home" vs GiveWell Philosophy
« Reply #58 on: October 03, 2017, 07:06:40 PM »
The only charities I give to are the local and national Libertarian Party and various Libertarian candidates, those that will fight to reduce and eliminate government theft. I would love to give to other causes, but until government stops stealing so much I simply cannot donate to any other causes. If there was no compulsory government theft just for existing I couple donate tens of thousands every year, do so much good for others, and still be far better off financially than I am now.

norabird

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Re: "Charity starts at home" vs GiveWell Philosophy
« Reply #59 on: October 04, 2017, 07:45:24 AM »
Quote
The only charities I give to are the local and national Libertarian Party and various Libertarian candidates, those that will fight to reduce and eliminate government theft. I would love to give to other causes, but until government stops stealing so much I simply cannot donate to any other causes. If there was no compulsory government theft just for existing I couple donate tens of thousands every year, do so much good for others, and still be far better off financially than I am now.

I'm not sure this is worth saying, but taxation isn't theft. We all have services we get from our municipalities, and even those we don't use benefit us holistically (schools if we don't have kids, Medicaid even if we don't need it), by helping society. Not that I like US budget priorities (endless cash for defense, cuts everywhere else), but it's no reason not to give.

Lately I donate more time because to be honest my budgeting doesn't yet put giving first and I end up spending on non essentials, but I'm definitely careful to be giving time (this year mostly to citizenship application and English language class teaching), and money at least sporadically.

Case

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Re: "Charity starts at home" vs GiveWell Philosophy
« Reply #60 on: October 04, 2017, 11:00:22 AM »
Edit: added quotes from the others who were discussing this in the other thread since I can't move comments like a mod.

In the "Epic FU Stories" thread (https://forum.mrmoneymustache.com/welcome-to-the-forum/epic-fu-money-stories/1800/) there is a discussion about charity giving that I wanted to break out to discuss more.

GettingClose was offered a raise but turned it down so the company could offer it to her lower paid co-worker. Then this happened:

I was trying to convey that this wasn't that generous an action  - New Guy was buying a house and had a combined household income of probably $70k.  Also, I have some opinions about fairness/equality in compensation, and it would have probably cost me considerably in the area of guilt (difficult to monetize) to have someone working the same hours as me for less than 1/3 the pay. It's my personal cutoff for whatever reason - I can justify 3x the salary due to my greater education, experience, innate ability, whatever - but not more than that.  Need to put my money where my mouth is to feel OK about myself.  I hope this makes sense.

Not downplaying this at all, I'm impressed you donated your money to some other cause, but just curious why you see that guy as more deserving of your money than people in other countries who don't make 1/3rd what you do but 1/3000th? ~20% of the worlds population makes less than $1/day. Sure you don't need it, but if you're going to donate your money to a charity, I think you should do it purposely in a way that best matches with your values rather than to some guy at work you feel bad for.

a) "charity starts at home" principle
b) I make other donations - but (despite the wording of point "a") there's a difference between charity and justice.  Can't articulate it very well; need to think more first. 
c) I work for a single company and have a single team, and this was my single chance to address income inequality in a meaningful way.  This particular instance had a name and a face, and rightly or wrongly, that matters.

It's not wrong. It matters. Gotta say, that other comment made my blood boil.

Charity begins at home, indeed.

Yup - seems like you acted exactly in line with your values regarding income inequality. And hopefully in a way that will make a long-term difference to the organisation. Good on you.

My comments elicited a strong response from a number of people on that thread which is part of the reason I'm breaking this discussion out into its own thread.


Ufffff.

Everyone gets to do what they want with their money.  That's why it's charity and not tax.  Sure, GettingClose could instead donate money to poor children in random-3rd-world country.  Alternatively, he could keep the money for himself, aggressively save, and then donate a larger some later.  Alternatively, he could take the promotion, fight tooth and nail to get as high as possible in his company, use that to take the next steps etc... and eventually be ultra-rich guy who can have an even bigger impact on the world.  Alternatively, he could just do whatever makes him feel best, and maybe being what you feel is the best type of person is the most positive contribution to the world.

Determining what is best to do with charity is a very personal decision, and the second that you begin criticizing others choices, it begins to impact the 'charity' nature of it.  This is why it elicits a strong response in people.  It's because it's not your fucking business.

GetItRight

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Re: "Charity starts at home" vs GiveWell Philosophy
« Reply #61 on: October 05, 2017, 10:36:01 AM »
Quote
The only charities I give to are the local and national Libertarian Party and various Libertarian candidates, those that will fight to reduce and eliminate government theft. I would love to give to other causes, but until government stops stealing so much I simply cannot donate to any other causes. If there was no compulsory government theft just for existing I couple donate tens of thousands every year, do so much good for others, and still be far better off financially than I am now.

I'm not sure this is worth saying, but taxation isn't theft. We all have services we get from our municipalities, and even those we don't use benefit us holistically (schools if we don't have kids, Medicaid even if we don't need it), by helping society. Not that I like US budget priorities (endless cash for defense, cuts everywhere else), but it's no reason not to give.

Saying something doesn't make it true. Also, just because the thief might choose to provide a service, does not change the fact that theft has occurred if there was no consent. Consent cannot be given under duress. Let's exclude usage based taxes on forced monopolies (i.e. vehicle registration and gas tax for roads) or taxes that are somewhat avoidable (i.e. sales tax) and focus on compulsory theft merely for existing, such as income tax and property tax.

Theft: A criminal act in which property belonging to another is taken without that person's consent.
http://legal-dictionary.thefreedictionary.com/theft

1. The mafia charging protection money is not stealing from those paying protection money as a service is provided, no theft has occurred.
2. A burglar or mugger who then donates the proceeds to charity is not a thief, no theft has occurred.
Do you agree with those two statements?

Consider the following:
Quote
the imposition of a federal income tax is more than just taking from those who work and earn and giving to those who don’t. And it is more than just a spigot to fill the federal trough. At its base, it is a terrifying presumption. It presumes that we don’t really own our property. It accepts the Marxist notion that the state owns all the property and the state permits us to keep and use whatever it needs us to have so we won’t riot in the streets. And then it steals and uses whatever it can politically get away with. Do you believe this?

There are only three ways to acquire wealth in a free society. The inheritance model occurs when someone gives you wealth. The economic model occurs when you trade a skill, a talent, an asset, knowledge, sweat, energy or creativity to a willing buyer. And the mafia model occurs when a guy with a gun says: “Give me your money or else.”

Which model does the government use? Why do we put up with this?
https://mises.org/blog/taxation-theft


As I said, if it weren't for compulsory government theft I (and presumably everyone else) could donate tens of thousands more annually to charity and still be financially better off. You mentioned endless spending on "defense". I'd argue that spending is on offense, and it only accounts for around 16% of federal spending. Around 2/3, 60%+ of federal spending is on welfare... That's at least 3.75% more endless than the spending for military offense. Both of these categories of federal spending should be reduced.

norabird

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Re: "Charity starts at home" vs GiveWell Philosophy
« Reply #62 on: October 05, 2017, 10:47:39 AM »
I don't know where you are getting your info but your definition of "welfare" must include Medicaid. I am perfectly happy to have my taxes go to Medicaid since the alternative is people not having health insurance.

GetItRight

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Re: "Charity starts at home" vs GiveWell Philosophy
« Reply #63 on: October 05, 2017, 11:43:13 AM »
Norabird, do you agree with these statements? Why or why not?

1. The mafia charging protection money is not stealing from those paying protection money as a service is provided, no theft has occurred.
2. A burglar or mugger who then donates the proceeds to charity is not a thief, no theft has occurred.


I don't know where you are getting your info but your definition of "welfare" must include Medicaid.

By welfare I am referring to government welfare. Definition of welfare:
a :aid in the form of money or necessities for those in need
b :an agency or program through which such aid is distributed

I'm curious, in your budget do you itemize the portion of taxes for medicaid as charitable donations? How does this differ from the other itemized amounts that are demanded from you by the government? If charitable donation amounts come up in conversation do you include the portion government took in the line item for medicaid tax as part of the total you assert to have donated to charity?

I am perfectly happy to have my taxes go to Medicaid

Okay, perhaps you consent. What about those that do not consent? What do you propose should be done to them?

since the alternative is people not having health insurance
This does not logically follow, you've made up a false conclusion. This is not particularly relevant ether way though.

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Re: "Charity starts at home" vs GiveWell Philosophy
« Reply #64 on: October 05, 2017, 11:46:21 AM »
Oh goody. This again.




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Re: "Charity starts at home" vs GiveWell Philosophy
« Reply #65 on: October 05, 2017, 01:52:02 PM »

If that's the case, I think the the fact that the OP is trying to live by ideals that are challenging, thinking outside of himself/herself are commendable. 


Yes, MMM365, you understand what I was trying to convey.

Another take on this is that if everyone lived by such ideals there would be pretty much no need for charity.

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Re: "Charity starts at home" vs GiveWell Philosophy
« Reply #66 on: October 05, 2017, 08:44:31 PM »

kite

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Re: "Charity starts at home" vs GiveWell Philosophy
« Reply #67 on: October 06, 2017, 12:21:20 PM »
Fascinating discussion, on many levels. 

The phrase "Charity begins at home" can be traced back to Deuteronomy.  Equally ancient, is the concept that we will always have poverty. 

The risk of focusing on effectiveness rankings is that it often becomes an excuse to do nothing.  We won't cure poverty.  We haven't cured heart disease, Alzheimer's, diabetes, addiction or cancer either.  It doesnt mean we shouldn't try to prevent these ills or alleviate suffering.  That's really all we can do. 

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Re: "Charity starts at home" vs GiveWell Philosophy
« Reply #68 on: October 10, 2017, 11:29:27 AM »
Drink!

Hah. Good one.

MOD NOTE: Taxation = theft arguments are off topic, and will be removed going forward. Start a new thread if you wish.
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Re: "Charity starts at home" vs GiveWell Philosophy
« Reply #69 on: October 10, 2017, 11:29:39 AM »
About actual charitable giving, I've become deeply cynical about the ability of money to fix problems.  If you look at the trillions of dollars poured into Africa over the past 200 years, and the billions of dollars into Haiti over the past 50 years (there were over 10,000 NGOs operating in Haiti before the 2012 earthquake - and this is a country of about 10 million people) ... it all seems to have accomplished very little.

This is good.  I watched a documentary on Netflix (twice) about the charity "business" and how in some cases and some countries, it does little to no good.  It's big business and actually harms things.  I should watch it again. I think it was "Poverty, Inc."

Two things to address this argument that charities can be ineffective and waste money:
1) Even if true, it's better to give $100 and have 90% wasted, and have that final $10 save a life than not give at all.

2) This issue has become a LOT better in the last decade.

Many other smart people were concerned with this issue (ineffective charity), and thus launched missions that directly speak to this. Effective Altruism and GiveWell, both discussed in this thread, are based on the idea of evaluating charities and going with the most effective ones. Using scientific methods and actual studies, we can find where our dollars make the most bang for the buck.

Instead of just blindly giving to something (Red Cross or Unicef or United Way or whatever) and hoping your contribution does something, you can actually research specific charities and see how effective they are in helping people.

I used to totally agree with what was posted above. I'm sure most Mustachians hate waste. We like optimized efficiency. So the idea of donating and having a large part of it be wasted is galling.

I no longer agree that this is the case, if you donate effectively. There are charities that actually WORK and help people, and save lives.

The "charities are a business" or "money can't fix problems" thing was a BIG issue 20 years ago. It's still a big issue, in fact, because plenty of charities exist that are pretty terrible. But it is MUCH easier with GiveWell and such in combination with the Internet to find effective ones, and put your money towards those causes.
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Re: "Charity starts at home" vs GiveWell Philosophy
« Reply #70 on: October 10, 2017, 11:35:31 AM »

Ultimately, comparison is the thief of joy. Criticizing someone for not being generous in the right way strikes me as judgmental and unnecessarily harsh.

I've had people question whether or not I do charitable things. I think it's up to the individual to decide and okay for them to keep it private, if they want to.  I was lambasted by a friend several years ago in a situation that blew up. She told me I should buy lunch for a certain person, one of our mutual friends, as an act of charity. I didn't like being dictated to.

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Re: "Charity starts at home" vs GiveWell Philosophy
« Reply #71 on: October 10, 2017, 01:59:26 PM »
Interesting take. Do you then believe there is only one charity per purpose that we should all give to because math says so? If I give to an animal charity am I wasting my money because it isn't going to humans? If I give to poor kids' education am I wasting it because I'm not giving it to people who can't afford meals?

Quote
I see "Charity starts at home" like "Secure your own oxygen mask before assisting others".

Exactly my thoughts on this. What's wrong with giving to my community and trying to make it better? Am I suppose to ignore problems at home because people in Africa also have problems?

Wanted to respond to the MAGA crowd here.

What's wrong with giving to your community and trying to make it better, and why you should ignore problems at home because people in Africa also have (capital-P) Problems:

  • A small donation isn't going to do much of anything to the average american, but can make a major, major difference somewhere else. If you give $100 to a homeless guy, and let's assume he doesn't use it to buy drugs or alcohol, what would he do? Purchase some food at the grocery store, then what?  Where's he going to store it? What's he going to do when it runs out? It's a small, temporary benefit.  His life wasn't in danger, he wasn't starving or succumbing to the elements because there are homeless shelters and food kitchens in America.  You have to want to starve to death to do so in America.  In comparison, $100 given to a very, very poor person in Africa (why does it always have to be Africa?) could allow her to purchase some sort of livestock that would supply food to the family in perpetuity.  It could be used to make a major upgrade to a house like installing a metal roof rather than thatch, thereby noticeably improving living situation and decreasing disease.
  • Up the stakes to $5000.  You know that 4% rule we're all so familiar with?  $5k is enough to provide 'basic income' in the form of $200 per year in perpetuity.  That's generational money, that can lift a whole extended family out of absolute poverty into what approximates middle class in the developing world, and provide benefits for future generations.  $5k in the developing world is FI.   $5k in America is paying a bill; it's rent and security deposit, a down payment on a vehicle, or some small portion of outstanding medical bills.  It's not a game changer. 

Ultimately then it's not a question of "local" or "abroad".  It's a question of a very, very minor improvement in QOL locally, or a very, very major improvement in QOL (or just life, instead of death) abroad. 

If you want to give locally the best resource you can give is your time, e.g. volunteering. It doesn't make sense to fly to Africa to volunteer at a soup kitchen, but it does make sense in your community.  Your dollars, on the other hand, should go abroad where they are [orders of magnitude] more powerful.  That's where your soldiers are more powerful and can work harder.  You wouldn't invest your own stash inefficiently -- why would you do so with charitable giving?

In response to the above MAGA comments:

-Do you then believe there is only one charity per purpose that we should all give to because math says so?  Some charities are better than others, yes, "because the math says so."  (sounds very suspicious of 'math'...).  Obviously there could be several charities for one purpose that are all equally efficient, and all would be more worthwhile than dozens of less efficient charities. 

-If you give money to an animal charity rather than humans, is it wasted?  That depends on whether you think that saving animal life instead of human life would be a waste.  I believe that reducing animal suffering is a worthwhile endeavor.  But giving resources to benefit animals instead of humans necessarily comes at a human cost.  It's fairly easy to lessen animal suffering by changing your behavior -- all you have to do is to stop killing and eating them.  It's much harder to lessen human suffering by changing your behavior; however, if you are killing and eating humans, you should stop doing so immediately. 

-If I give to poor kids' education am I wasting it because I'm not giving it to people who can't afford meals?  Again that depends on whether or not you think that benefiting a poor kids' education is more valuable than feeding someone.  In the case of Americans who can't afford meals, there are options.  Food stamps.  Soup kitchens.  Lunch vouchers. etc.  In other parts of the world, there is no guaranteed access to either food or clean drinking water. 

I'm not denying that people in America suffer due to income inequality.  But we have a government and charitable organizations that make resources available.  In other parts of the world, people die from lack of basic necessities every day.
« Last Edit: October 10, 2017, 03:46:35 PM by zombiehunter »

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Re: "Charity starts at home" vs GiveWell Philosophy
« Reply #72 on: October 10, 2017, 02:27:34 PM »
I'm finding the rigid definitions of charitable morality kind of strange, from this generally non-theistic forum. I can't help but juxtaposing it against the many locked threads about religion, when someone claims there's only one moral path. Oh, the howling!

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Re: "Charity starts at home" vs GiveWell Philosophy
« Reply #73 on: October 10, 2017, 02:46:26 PM »
@zombiehunter: Great post!

Very much agree.

I'm finding the rigid definitions of charitable morality kind of strange, from this generally non-theistic forum. I can't help but juxtaposing it against the many locked threads about religion, when someone claims there's only one moral path. Oh, the howling!

Sigh. Not sure why you felt it was necessary, but re: the locked thread comment: There is zero rules around discussing religion. It's perfectly fine. Threads get locked because people can't follow the simple "don't be a jerk" rule, and do personal attacks on others. This tends to happen more in hot topic issues, but it has to do with what people say, not the topic they are discussing.

I really don't get your issue with the moderating here.  Perhaps you can explain more, or rather start a thread on it, to keep this one on topic.

As far as on topic, the morality of charity: the overlap between morality and religion is not absolute. There are plenty of immoral things about various religions, and plenty of moral aspects regarding non-religious things. Charity can be more or less moral, regardless of any religion.

You say you find the comments about morality strange from a forum that tend towards atheism, but I don't see what those have to do with each other. It seems like you're implying atheists have no morals, but obviously that's absurd, so I'm not sure what you're saying. We've had many good discussions about morality and many comments from self-proclaimed atheists (such as Sol) with insightful ethical thoughts. See, e.g. the your mustache might be evil thread.
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Re: "Charity starts at home" vs GiveWell Philosophy
« Reply #74 on: October 10, 2017, 03:05:21 PM »
I wasn't talking about moderation. I included "the many locked threads" just to say that discussing in theistic threads often becomes extremely contentious. Often the contention because a theists says there's only one path towards morality. The larger community tends to find that highly irritating. Commenters in this thread have made the same "one true path to morality" message. It struck me as comment-able. 

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Re: "Charity starts at home" vs GiveWell Philosophy
« Reply #75 on: October 10, 2017, 03:08:00 PM »
I wasn't talking about moderation. I included "the many locked threads" just to say that discussing in theistic threads often becomes extremely contentious.

Got it. My apologies for the misinterpretation, and thanks for clarifying why you put that in.  :)

Quote
Often the contention because a theists says there's only one path towards morality. The larger community tends to find that highly irritating. Commenters in this thread have made the same "one true path to morality" message. It struck me as comment-able.

We all make our own morality lines.

The way I read any comments in this thread were in the vein of "here's what I consider to be moral/not."
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Re: "Charity starts at home" vs GiveWell Philosophy
« Reply #76 on: October 10, 2017, 03:36:40 PM »
I have strong views on charity. If you're going to get offended at something I say, or take it personally, don't read further. If you can understand reasonable people have different views, shrug, and move on, feel free to proceed.



I almost commented in that thread too, but didn't want to start a fight.

I agree with the OP. That was a terrible use of money compared to what it could have done. Inefficient charity is not much better than no charity at all, and it makes the person doing it feel good, so they do less than they might have otherwise.

I'd rather the person in that thread take the 5k raise, donate 1k to an overseas effective charity and blow the other 4k than give all 5k to a different white collar professional (whereby all 5k of it likely gets blown--it's extremely unlikely that person donates >20%). That would have been a far more effective use of the money (ignoring the fact that they could have donated 2, 3, or even the whole 5k).

I think charity starts at home is *. act locally, *. I think most volunteering is *. I think almost all domestic giving is **.

*weird adding an asterisk when I'm using them to censor. the footnote I wanted to add is that i do give domestically to help protect people's rights. aclu. planned parenthood. eff.**  but for stuff like food, or housing no. the amount of food or housing anyone here in the states can access compared to other countries is crazy. we need more support for mentally ill in this country, and i think our government should do much more to support people in that situation. we need more of a social safety net overall, and we need health care for all. but charity dollars should go to helping those who need it most. and that's not anyone in pretty much any first world country.

**and I acknowledge it's probably immoral for me to prioritize the "rights" of people in first world countries over the lives of people in undeveloped countries. my donating to aclu, planned parenthood, eff is a less efficient use of the money, and it just makes me feel good. i try not to think about it, because i'm an immoral person, and thinking about it might make me redirect that money to better causes, and i just don't want to. pretty disturbing.

human life is worthwhile, full stop, period. valuing some lives more than others is pretty sick, and then morally feeling good while doing so, even worse. the difference in the amount of quality life hours you can provide for $1000 in the US versus in africa is astounding. and choosing to say 'fuck those guys because they aren't in geographic proximity to what i call home, due to the random nature of having been born or moved here" is terrible.

yes, this applies to you, people in this thread
(i only skimmed it, so i don't even remember who said what) who donate locally, volunteer locally, and do nothing overseas. i think that's a damn shame.

to be clear: i'm in no position to judge, and i'm not judging. i'm as flawed as they come. like i said, i donate where i shouldn't. i'm retired early, rather than working full time to donate more. how sick is it that i'm SO MUCH spending time on one individual (my daughter) each day, when i could be earning money and giving that to save so many lives? it'd fucked up, really. so i donate some money, and try to earn some more with side gigs to donate, and maybe at some point i'll go back just to earn to gibe, but for now? * selfish asshole.  all that to say, i'm not looking down on those people who aren't helping those who need it most. i'm saying that they aren't doing the moral choice. even if they feel good about it.

The Life You Can Save by Peter Singer is one of the best books I've ever read. Everyone should read it. Especially if you disagree with what I've posted.

You made very strong statements in a previous post, based on your interpretation of how to morally dispense charity, and applied them globally.

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Re: "Charity starts at home" vs GiveWell Philosophy
« Reply #77 on: October 10, 2017, 03:38:27 PM »
We all make our own morality lines.

The way I read any comments in this thread were in the vein of "here's what I consider to be moral/not."
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Re: "Charity starts at home" vs GiveWell Philosophy
« Reply #78 on: October 10, 2017, 03:44:52 PM »
I guess I don't understand what you're getting at.

Are you upset that I called you immoral, based on my definitions of morality? I called myself immoral in that same post. For the record, I don't think it's actually possible for anyone to be 100% moral. We all do the best we can.

You draw your own lines, and you think your charity is the moral thing to do. Awesome. Keep it up.

The fact that everyone decides their own moral lines seems obvious, to me. Some people posted what theirs were. I'm not sure how you're tying this to religion, or what the issue with it is, really.

I'm not trying to argue, just explain, and seek clarification, because I don't understand the issue.  :)
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Re: "Charity starts at home" vs GiveWell Philosophy
« Reply #79 on: October 10, 2017, 03:58:35 PM »
About actual charitable giving, I've become deeply cynical about the ability of money to fix problems.  If you look at the trillions of dollars poured into Africa over the past 200 years, and the billions of dollars into Haiti over the past 50 years (there were over 10,000 NGOs operating in Haiti before the 2012 earthquake - and this is a country of about 10 million people) ... it all seems to have accomplished very little.

This is good.  I watched a documentary on Netflix (twice) about the charity "business" and how in some cases and some countries, it does little to no good.  It's big business and actually harms things.  I should watch it again. I think it was "Poverty, Inc."

Two things to address this argument that charities can be ineffective and waste money:
1) Even if true, it's better to give $100 and have 90% wasted, and have that final $10 save a life than not give at all.

2) This issue has become a LOT better in the last decade.

Many other smart people were concerned with this issue (ineffective charity), and thus launched missions that directly speak to this. Effective Altruism and GiveWell, both discussed in this thread, are based on the idea of evaluating charities and going with the most effective ones. Using scientific methods and actual studies, we can find where our dollars make the most bang for the buck.

Instead of just blindly giving to something (Red Cross or Unicef or United Way or whatever) and hoping your contribution does something, you can actually research specific charities and see how effective they are in helping people.

I used to totally agree with what was posted above. I'm sure most Mustachians hate waste. We like optimized efficiency. So the idea of donating and having a large part of it be wasted is galling.

I no longer agree that this is the case, if you donate effectively. There are charities that actually WORK and help people, and save lives.

The "charities are a business" or "money can't fix problems" thing was a BIG issue 20 years ago. It's still a big issue, in fact, because plenty of charities exist that are pretty terrible. But it is MUCH easier with GiveWell and such in combination with the Internet to find effective ones, and put your money towards those causes.

Those organizations do a lot to identify the charities that get the biggest bang for the donor buck in terms of short-term payoff. They also create an incentive for other charities to run a tighter ship and to be more careful of donor dollars. Yet the charities that fare best with those kind of metrics tend to produce fast results that are easily expressed in quantitative terms. Progress is predictable and quantitative. Qualitative-oriented charities such as medical research don't fare as well in the short term, however in the long term they accomplish permanent and lasting improvement for the whole world.

Other posters have poked fun at the viral Ice Bucket challenge, which in 2014 raised something like $115 million, most of which went to research. They identified a new key gene associated with ALS and funded some early-stage research that may take a few years to come to fruition. Not all the research initiatives will be successful. Medical research has got to be among the least cost-effective charity program out there because the payoff doesn't come predictably and there's no guarantee it will come at all. When it's successful, though, there is wide ranging benefit. Consider what the March of Dimes has just plain gotten rid of: polio, rubella, spina bifida which is now almost completely unknown, and now they're going after FAS. It's impossible to tell exactly which dime broke the back of polio, but without significant funding the breakthroughs never occur.

The charity that funds the disease research and the vaccine development will almost always have a poorer efficiency rating than the charity that distributes that vaccine in large quantities to people in developing nations. The horse-drawn cart can carry more than the horse. But the horse is a necessary precursor to the cart. The best vaccination distribution charity still requires a vaccine to distribute.

Now, if charitable giving were purely an optimization exercise-- and there are people for whom it is-- the cart type charities would get more than enough funding while the horse type charities got by on little or nothing. So it's probably good that people get emotionally worked up about horse type charities, enough to dump a bucket of ice water over their heads. That's what feeds the horse. And horses eat a lot, and produce more byproduct than makes many people comfortable.

My take on it is that there's different strokes for different folks. Medical research and disaster relief will always be more expensive than education or vaccination campaigns. Things tend to work out best when people who are disposed to give do it in a way that's meaningful and satisfying to them. GiveWell and similar initiatives are very valuable for identifying the most effective charity among other options in the same size, region, and mission. But cross-category comparisons aren't going to make a lot of sense.
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Re: "Charity starts at home" vs GiveWell Philosophy
« Reply #80 on: October 11, 2017, 02:26:46 AM »
TheGrimSqueaker - you make a lot of good points, and I agree with much of your post.  One thing I want to counter: 


Now, if charitable giving were purely an optimization exercise-- and there are people for whom it is-- the cart type charities would get more than enough funding while the horse type charities got by on little or nothing. So it's probably good that people get emotionally worked up about horse type charities, enough to dump a bucket of ice water over their heads. That's what feeds the horse. And horses eat a lot, and produce more byproduct than makes many people comfortable.


My issue with the ice bucket challenge is not that it raised funds for a charity that focused on research, which necessarily promotes less measurable/direct benefits.

My issues with the ice bucket challenge are that:
  • Many people doing the challenge or giving to the charity did not make their decision rationally, based on their expectations that donating to research may generate longer term benefits .  Heck, I'm not even sure a lot of those people made their decisions "emotionally" in the sense you describe - of getting "emotionally worked up" about ALS.  Rather, a lot of those donations were made more or less unthinkingly simply because of the very successful social media campaign.
  • There is research to show that moral licensing is a real thing, and the ice bucket challenge may well have crowded out/cannabilised other worthwhile causes.  Sure, they identified a new gene, but who knows what good might have been done if people had donated to other charities?  Of course, we don't know - maybe without the ice bucket challenge, people would have mostly donated to ineffective charities anyway, or not at all.

My point is that things like the ice bucket challenge tend to promote "mindless" donations.  A case could be certainly be made for donating to ALS rather than, say, the Against Malaria Foundation, despite the more direct/measurable good that Against Malaria does.  But the ice bucket challenge did not encourage people to think carefully about their donations.  That is my problem with it.

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Re: "Charity starts at home" vs GiveWell Philosophy
« Reply #81 on: October 11, 2017, 06:17:02 AM »
As someone who somewhat looked down on the ice bucket challenge at the time my understanding is that actually, those non rational donations don't decrease people's charitable giving and so there's only a net good--and there have been results. I think if we start giving more--to anything--it creates a good habit. I do tend to think I should be putting my money in more EA places, I also give emotionally as well and my rates of donating swing. It's not where I want it to be but one day I hope to get there, with 'there' always being a personal destination for each of us.


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Re: "Charity starts at home" vs GiveWell Philosophy
« Reply #82 on: October 11, 2017, 07:55:55 AM »


my understanding is that actually, those non rational donations don't decrease people's charitable giving

Do you have a source for this?

The link in the post above yours says the opposite.

I feel like common sense says the same thing; I'd think someone who donated several hundred to various ice bucket challenges when it came to other giving would think "I just cut that check for the ice bucket thing, I can't do this other charity right now."
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Re: "Charity starts at home" vs GiveWell Philosophy
« Reply #83 on: October 11, 2017, 08:35:33 AM »
I guess I don't understand what you're getting at.

Are you upset that I called you immoral, based on my definitions of morality? I called myself immoral in that same post. For the record, I don't think it's actually possible for anyone to be 100% moral. We all do the best we can.

You draw your own lines, and you think your charity is the moral thing to do. Awesome. Keep it up.

The fact that everyone decides their own moral lines seems obvious, to me. Some people posted what theirs were. I'm not sure how you're tying this to religion, or what the issue with it is, really.

I'm not trying to argue, just explain, and seek clarification, because I don't understand the issue.  :)

Okay, I'll rephrase. I'm trying to make an somewhat wry observation about the nature of the human brain.

A repeating theme in many religious threads 'round here is that eventually some pedantic jackhole will proclaim to know the one true path to leading an ethical life. There can be only one!, the jackhole will howl from the heights, in a froth of righteous frenzy. The forum then hurls that righteous frenzy right back, and there are many vigorous proclamations made from "self-proclaimed atheists (such as Sol) with insightful ethical thoughts" telling the pedantic jackhole they may go screw. Repeat as necessary, ad infinitum, ad nauseam.

In this thread we see the same pedantic jackholery about there only being one moral path. It even comes with a sopuçon of: shucks, I'm a sinner to. Yet, far far less people telling the pedantic jackhole they may go screw.

It's interesting. Why do we lose our shit on the one thread and kinda shrug on this one, when the same fundamental idea is being discussed? 

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Re: "Charity starts at home" vs GiveWell Philosophy
« Reply #84 on: October 11, 2017, 09:03:17 AM »
Well, I don't think there is really condemnation of alternate ways of giving, more different opinions.

Can't seem to find whatever I had read on giving, but I also can't find anything that verifies charity cannibalism is a real effect, either. I try not to be high and mighty in dismissing challenges on the ALS lines anymore, though. It's not like it ever goes well to dismiss someone's priorities! (Which reminds me to buy supplies to give to the Hurricane Maria drive at choir tonight)

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Re: "Charity starts at home" vs GiveWell Philosophy
« Reply #85 on: October 11, 2017, 09:06:51 AM »
I may be one of the "pedantic jackholes" in this thread.

I also don't get the comparison between ethics and religion. Religions are organized faith-based morality, in a sense, and it's the organized faith part that I don't like. However, when faced with a logical explanation of utilitarian ethics, I tend to agree with the logic and do my best with what I've learned. That's the opposite of blindly following and/or preaching a faith based organized religion, IMO.

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Re: "Charity starts at home" vs GiveWell Philosophy
« Reply #86 on: October 11, 2017, 09:10:23 AM »
In this thread we see the same pedantic jackholery about there only being one moral path. It even comes with a sopuçon of: shucks, I'm a sinner to. Yet, far far less people telling the pedantic jackhole they may go screw.

It's interesting. Why do we lose our shit on the one thread and kinda shrug on this one, when the same fundamental idea is being discussed?

I follow what you're trying to get at, I guess I just haven't seen it happen in this thread.  :)
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Re: "Charity starts at home" vs GiveWell Philosophy
« Reply #87 on: October 11, 2017, 09:22:20 AM »
I think the issue is that there's ... at least the flavor ... of similar zealotry to the religion (and veganism) threads in here. There have definitely been several posts in this thread saying "the only moral way to be charitable is to give money to XXX."   Even if that's leavened with a scoop of "but I'm not perfectly moral, and neither are you" it still feels like an absolutist, judgmental statement: It's fundamentalist in feeling.

(And that's without even getting into the whole "Taxation is thievery" theme. I am seriously impressed that several people managed to respond to that with civil discussions.)

I've been dipping in and out of the thread here, because of the tone, but I'm also a bit surprised that it's gone on for so long, just skirting the edge of being "too dickish".  I think the mods have been doing a great job all over the boards, and that's probably why this thread has stayed on the right side of "don't be a jerk": people are aware that if they cross the line, the thread will be locked -- which is the kind of self-policing we want.

And, to be painfully expository, many religious people seem to think that the only way to be ethical is to be religious. (I refer y'all back to the "is it possible to raise ethical children in a non-religious household" thread in Mini-mustaches, which went on for pages.) Discussion of ethics typically feels at least related to a discussion of religion, because they're supposedly related. I actually agree with MMM_Donuts' last comment in content, but think s/he's being willfully ignorant with the innocent question of "I don't get the comparison."

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Re: "Charity starts at home" vs GiveWell Philosophy
« Reply #88 on: October 11, 2017, 09:27:10 AM »
Conflating ethics and religion is truly insane. There are undoubtedly people who do it but they're just totally separate things!!

arebelspy

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Re: "Charity starts at home" vs GiveWell Philosophy
« Reply #89 on: October 11, 2017, 09:34:23 AM »
I think the issue is that there's ... at least the flavor ... of similar zealotry to the religion (and veganism) threads in here. There have definitely been several posts in this thread saying "the only moral way to be charitable is to give money to XXX."   Even if that's leavened with a scoop of "but I'm not perfectly moral, and neither are you" it still feels like an absolutist, judgmental statement: It's fundamentalist in feeling.

I still don't get why this is unique or even something with commenting on.

Don't we do that with EVERYTHING?

"Here is my opinion on X. You are free to have your own opinion, but I am sharing my thoughts."

That's approximately...99% of all thoughts, ever. The other 1% being tautologies.

In this thread it's:
"Here's my opinion of what is moral/immoral. If you're doing things on one side of the line, I consider it a moral action. If you aren't, I consider it immoral."

In another thread it might be:
"Here's my opinion of what is/is not a waste of money. If you're doing things on one side of the line, I consider it a good use of money\. If you aren't, I consider it a waste of money."

In another thread it might be:
"Here's my opinion of what is/is not a waste of time. If you're doing things on one side of the line, I consider it a good use of time. If you aren't, I consider it a waste of time."

Or exercise, or food, or vaccines, or etc., etc.

In this thread, people are discussing and sharing where their moral lines are. It has no more, or less, judgement than any other thread where you share opinions. It may be that people take it more personally if they're on the other side of the line that someone puts out there, because everyone wants to think they're an ethical person, and don't like if others wouldn't view them that way, but again... who cares what other people think?

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arebelspy

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Re: "Charity starts at home" vs GiveWell Philosophy
« Reply #90 on: October 11, 2017, 09:35:33 AM »
Conflating ethics and religion is truly insane. There are undoubtedly people who do it but they're just totally separate things!!

100% agree.

It's just that they've been tied together for thousands of years, because religion likes to use ethics to control people (telling them what they can't do, what is a sin, etc.), and many people learn ethics through their religion.

That doesn't mean either is necessary nor sufficient for the other.
We are two former teachers who accumulated a bunch of real estate, retired at 29, and now travel the world full time with a kid.
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jeninco

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Re: "Charity starts at home" vs GiveWell Philosophy
« Reply #91 on: October 11, 2017, 09:46:07 AM »
I think the issue is that there's ... at least the flavor ... of similar zealotry to the religion (and veganism) threads in here. There have definitely been several posts in this thread saying "the only moral way to be charitable is to give money to XXX."   Even if that's leavened with a scoop of "but I'm not perfectly moral, and neither are you" it still feels like an absolutist, judgmental statement: It's fundamentalist in feeling.

I still don't get why this is unique or even something with commenting on.

Don't we do that with EVERYTHING?

"Here is my opinion on X. You are free to have your own opinion, but I am sharing my thoughts."

That's approximately...99% of all thoughts, ever. The other 1% being tautologies.

In this thread it's:
"Here's my opinion of what is moral/immoral. If you're doing things on one side of the line, I consider it a moral action. If you aren't, I consider it immoral."

In another thread it might be:
"Here's my opinion of what is/is not a waste of money. If you're doing things on one side of the line, I consider it a good use of money\. If you aren't, I consider it a waste of money."

In this thread, people are discussing and sharing where their moral lines are. It has no more, or less, judgement than any other thread where you share opinions. It may be that people take it more personally if they're on the other side of the line that someone puts out there, because everyone wants to think they're an ethical person, and don't like if others wouldn't view them that way, but again... who cares what other people think?

Because it feels more personal?  Because "you're an immoral person" cuts more deeply then "you are wasting your money" ? And, because it feels more personal, the conversation gets heated more quickly? (This seems to happen with a few topics: eating animals, religion, ...)

I'm not entirely sure, and you have a point. When I'm reading a thread about ... blenders, say, I read up to the "YOU ARE AN IDIOT IF YOU'RE WASTING YOUR MONEY ON ANYTHING MORE THEN $5 from the thrift store" and then laugh and step out. Perhaps if I'd just bought a Vitamix, I'd take it more personally...

And I care what (some) other people think because it's tough to find a community of folks who try to make reasoned, thoughtful decisions about what's ethical, and then try to live their ethical positions out every day. I've been living in the same place for 20 years, and while I feel like I have a network of those people around me in real life who I get to see sometimes, they're all out doing things, too! This place seems to have a higher-then-usual density of thoughtful, ethical inhabitants, who often have well-reasoned inspiring things to say. (Including you, ARS.)

Mmm_Donuts

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Re: "Charity starts at home" vs GiveWell Philosophy
« Reply #92 on: October 11, 2017, 09:56:10 AM »
No, I honestly don't see the connection. I feel my own posts on here in support of the GiveWell philosophy are about how well it meshes and overlaps with the MMM philosophy. Maybe it comes across as proselytizing but thats not my intention.

Curious as to whether MMM "proselytizing" gets the same reaction on this board? There are so many people with varying levels of opinions on what's good and moral within the MMM world. I'm really into what I've discovered about giving internationally, and am hoping to share and talk about it, just as some newcomers to MMM get excited and maybe a little overzealous about that. But that's nothing to argue about. It's just enthudiasm for an idea that I'd like to share. It doesn't seem out of place here, since it's about efficiency, and how to make the best use of money (in terms of helping the most people in the most effective way). It's not like I'm trying to convert people to believing Jesus has come back in the form of my pet monkey and can save us all from the evil underlords.

gaja

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Re: "Charity starts at home" vs GiveWell Philosophy
« Reply #93 on: October 11, 2017, 10:45:42 AM »


my understanding is that actually, those non rational donations don't decrease people's charitable giving

Do you have a source for this?

The link in the post above yours says the opposite.

I feel like common sense says the same thing; I'd think someone who donated several hundred to various ice bucket challenges when it came to other giving would think "I just cut that check for the ice bucket thing, I can't do this other charity right now."

As far as I can see, that link does not provide scientific research, but data points from one organization. I have tried to find science backing or refuting what that article claims, but couldn't find it. But I found this linkedin piece, where data points from a different organization appears to show no such correlation: https://www.linkedin.com/pulse/20140819191552-30400366-funding-cannibalism-and-moral-licensing-my-response/

Even if the first article is correct, (and the second one wrong,) article #1 claims that "Research from my own non-profit, which raises money for the most effective global poverty charities, has found that, for every $1 we raise, 50¢ would have been donated anyway." That means that awareness raising will double the charitable giving in a society! In my eyes that means we should do more of it, not less.

My experience is not that one cannibalises the other. We give $X to Doctors without borders every month. That amount stays the same whether or not I decide to support a worker's union in South Africa one month, or Unicef the next month. That extra money comes from the spending budget.
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VoteCthulu

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Re: "Charity starts at home" vs GiveWell Philosophy
« Reply #94 on: October 11, 2017, 05:27:58 PM »
I'm surpised this of all threads got moved to off-topic. MMM talks about charity and it seems like an integral part of being FI.

Topics discussing mice in your basement and annual vet visits seem far more off topic than this, but I guess it's a just a matter of what the mods are feeling like today.

hoping2retire35

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Re: "Charity starts at home" vs GiveWell Philosophy
« Reply #95 on: October 12, 2017, 11:41:17 AM »
Back to the OP, a least a somewhat...

I think I have a synthethic view of giving. Local and utilitarian.

"We" are in one of the richest societies on earth. Our dollars here can go a lot farther elsewhere in the world; PPP and all that. People here are not going to starve or be left in sub zero temperatures unless to some degree they choose to; however....

If someone who is very giving is also taking a more direct approach to their recipient to ensure it is not just going to be spent on frivolous things but toward education or paying down some mistakes (not for beer, casinos, and TVs). Or even just some more temporary relief (childcare?) the giving could actually foster the receiving individual to being capable of giving themselves. In a sense it is like the compound interest of charity.

Takes more effort than just writing a check. Like volunteering at the place you give. Or with the person you give to. Probably most effective with a neighbor/coworker/extended family as long a good relationship can be maintained. But if this isn't possible then I would agree the international giving is better.

Out of the Blue

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Re: "Charity starts at home" vs GiveWell Philosophy
« Reply #96 on: October 13, 2017, 02:43:46 PM »

As far as I can see, that link does not provide scientific research, but data points from one organization. I have tried to find science backing or refuting what that article claims, but couldn't find it. But I found this linkedin piece, where data points from a different organization appears to show no such correlation: https://www.linkedin.com/pulse/20140819191552-30400366-funding-cannibalism-and-moral-licensing-my-response/

Even if the first article is correct, (and the second one wrong,) article #1 claims that "Research from my own non-profit, which raises money for the most effective global poverty charities, has found that, for every $1 we raise, 50¢ would have been donated anyway." That means that awareness raising will double the charitable giving in a society! In my eyes that means we should do more of it, not less.

My experience is not that one cannibalises the other. We give $X to Doctors without borders every month. That amount stays the same whether or not I decide to support a worker's union in South Africa one month, or Unicef the next month. That extra money comes from the spending budget.

I guess my issue isn't so much with the ALS organisation or the Peter Frates guy who started the ice bucket challenge - they are doing what they can to raise awareness and funds for their cause.  Charity has to compete with all sorts of non-charitable products and services for your hard-earned dollar, and when all those other products and services invest heavily in marketing - including social media marketing - well, charity kind of has to too, doesn't it? 

My issue is more with those people who give money to a cause solely because of its marketing/ice bucket challenge/other gimmick, and not because they have thought about it and make a considered decision of where best to apply their money.  Which is exactly in line with MMM's objections to other types of spending as well - think carefully about where you spend/donate your money, and whether it is in line with your values and the most efficient way of spending/donating.  If you do that, then we're good, even if I personally would choose to spend/donate my money elsewhere. 

But, sadly, I suspect far more ice bucket challenge donors (and more people in general) are the type of people who just give a few bucks because they get tagged on social media or something and then start patting themselves on the back for giving to charity.

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Re: "Charity starts at home" vs GiveWell Philosophy
« Reply #97 on: October 16, 2017, 11:24:18 PM »
I think the issue is that there's ... at least the flavor ... of similar zealotry to the religion (and veganism) threads in here. There have definitely been several posts in this thread saying "the only moral way to be charitable is to give money to XXX."   Even if that's leavened with a scoop of "but I'm not perfectly moral, and neither are you" it still feels like an absolutist, judgmental statement: It's fundamentalist in feeling.
I still don't get why this is unique or even something with commenting on.

Don't we do that with EVERYTHING?

"Here is my opinion on X. You are free to have your own opinion, but I am sharing my thoughts."

That's approximately...99% of all thoughts, ever. The other 1% being tautologies.

In this thread it's:
"Here's my opinion of what is moral/immoral. If you're doing things on one side of the line, I consider it a moral action. If you aren't, I consider it immoral."

In another thread it might be:
"Here's my opinion of what is/is not a waste of money. If you're doing things on one side of the line, I consider it a good use of money\. If you aren't, I consider it a waste of money."

In this thread, people are discussing and sharing where their moral lines are. It has no more, or less, judgement than any other thread where you share opinions. It may be that people take it more personally if they're on the other side of the line that someone puts out there, because everyone wants to think they're an ethical person, and don't like if others wouldn't view them that way, but again... who cares what other people think?

Because it feels more personal?  Because "you're an immoral person" cuts more deeply then "you are wasting your money" ? And, because it feels more personal, the conversation gets heated more quickly? (This seems to happen with a few topics: eating animals, religion, ...)

I'm not entirely sure, and you have a point. When I'm reading a thread about ... blenders, say, I read up to the "YOU ARE AN IDIOT IF YOU'RE WASTING YOUR MONEY ON ANYTHING MORE THEN $5 from the thrift store" and then laugh and step out. Perhaps if I'd just bought a Vitamix, I'd take it more personally...

And I care what (some) other people think because it's tough to find a community of folks who try to make reasoned, thoughtful decisions about what's ethical, and then try to live their ethical positions out every day. I've been living in the same place for 20 years, and while I feel like I have a network of those people around me in real life who I get to see sometimes, they're all out doing things, too! This place seems to have a higher-then-usual density of thoughtful, ethical inhabitants, who often have well-reasoned inspiring things to say. (Including you, ARS.)
I was involved in this conversation at the beginning, but I've been away lately doing volunteer things...big volunteer things...in my own community. I just read this exchange, and jeninco, your thoughtful response knocks my socks off. I ♡ every word you wrote in response to ARS's razor sharp points. I've noticed your comments lately, and I have to say I very much enjoy what you add to the conversations. Thank you.
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arebelspy

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Re: "Charity starts at home" vs GiveWell Philosophy
« Reply #98 on: October 17, 2017, 08:41:34 AM »
Feeling bad about someone else calling you immoral is a waste of time.

"It feels more personal when you call me immoral than when you say I'm wasting my money" is not a valid reason or justification for any behavior.

Evaluate, process, and adapt, if necessary.

In other words, there are two potential outcomes:
1) If you reflect, and decide they're right, you change, and don't have to feel bad, because now you're taking more ethical actions.
2) If you reflect, and decide they're wrong, you don't have to feel bad, because you're already choosing the ethical options.

(Or you can do what most people do, and not reflect, and bury your head in the sand, because it's a lot more comfortable. :) )

Either way, there's nothing to take personally. They're wrong, and you DGAF, or they're right, and you're grateful for having it pointed out.

I'll repeat: I think there's a lot of people who are acting immorally (that isn't to say they're an immoral person, but they're not acting as ethically as possible) that have participated in this thread. Myself included. I hope some people reflect on some of the points that have been made as to why, and change some of their giving behaviors. But if they decide they're happy with what they're doing, awesome! More power to them.

On a very related note, why take anything personally, ever, frankly.
We are two former teachers who accumulated a bunch of real estate, retired at 29, and now travel the world full time with a kid.
If you want to know more about me, or how we did that, or see lots of pictures, this Business Insider profile tells our story pretty well.
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You can also read my forum "Journal."

GettingClose

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Re: "Charity starts at home" vs GiveWell Philosophy
« Reply #99 on: October 18, 2017, 09:56:55 AM »
Nice attitude, Arebelspy.  How useful to maintain that in all areas of life.