Saturday, January 16, 2010

The Haitian Posturing Parade

People are often at the best when things are worst, and the generosity of the American people, as well as those of the rest of the world is once more revealing itself. There are drives going on here locally in Toledo and NW Ohio, more going on everywhere across the state, and countless ones going on across the country and around the world. 

Unfortunately, not everything going on out there contributes to the relief of the Haitian people or to the standing of those making the effort, and I'm not just talking about the inevitable scam artists that will attempt to rip people off during this time of terrible tragedy. The NFL for example, is posturing today, broadcasting "public service" announcements allowing people to donate to the Red Cross by texting a special number on your cell phone. (Don't do it while driving though, or you might get a ticket, and remember that texting charges may apply.) I guess that people watching football wouldn't have the intelligence to know how to donate to the Red Cross or any other charitable organization without the NFL stepping into the middle to explain how. 

They are not alone however, with every good corporate public relations expert in the country attempting to position and posture his organization properly and find a way to jump to the front of the parade as it begins to form. They do so in the hopes of bolstering standing in their respective communities, while hopefully contributing to the actual relief of those doing the suffering. 

Such posturing is not beyond our presidents as well, as a recent announcement would illustrate. President Obama met today with former Presidents Bush and Clinton to announce their own fund raising effort at . This website is designed strictly for the acceptance of money and not material goods. 

Again I ask myself however, why such a site is necessary unless it is to provide an opportunity for power brokers seeking favors from those who still have some influence on politics and policy in this country? I believe that former President Clinton might actually have some standing in any effort on Haiti's behalf, as he is currently the UN special envoy to that country; (I'm not sure why they should need one, but that's a posting for another day.) but I'm not sure that putting his, Bush's or Obama's face on a charitable effort is going to gain extra money from the American people. 

Amazingly, it appears that we are all supposed to applaud such efforts, as politicians finally find a reason to reach across the partisan aisle and join together for a worthy cause. As a Curmudgeon and a skeptic however, I am forced view such endeavors with a more jaded eye. Why do we need former presidents to provide us with the means to do charitable work when such work is already well on its way? Why does the NFL need to take some of the credit for our donations rather than announcing what its own will be? (One from the owners and another from the players union please!) Why should we feel warm and fuzzy feelings about any corporation that lends its name (but far too often, not its money) to the efforts of Americans to come to the aid of others? (and the potential of getting a texting charge for a charitable donation really sets me off ...) 

I believe in the concept of charity and applaud charitable efforts in general. I believe in the notion of nations supplying aid to those in crisis when disasters occur. I believe that the tragedy in Haiti is one of those occasions and hope that all will attempt (as I have) to give something to the effort. I do not believe however, in efforts which appear to be little more than a posturing parade.

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