Thursday, 21 August 2014

No, I will not be pouring ice water on my head

What an old fart I am! I can hear the Facebook criticism now: Hey, show a little solidarity with the ailing and infirm! How hard could it be to film yourself hilariously grimacing in pain and post it to YouTube?

Blow me.

Every so often, someone comes along with a bright idea like the ice bucket challenge to coerce guilt-ridden contributions of time, attention or cash to an allegedly worthy cause. Give a “like” to this darling baby with brain cancer! Can I talk to you about endangered species [this from a grinning teen with a clipboard]?

I remember when supermarkets in Chile started extorting change from shoppers by asking if we wouldn’t like to “donate” the coins due us to X charity—sometimes including the anti-abortion leagues. That bad habit quickly moved to the U.S. where Staples kindly thought we should give an extra dollar of our money (not theirs, of course) to some nice-sounding mission they’d cooked up.

It wasn’t really about the charity, of course, but to make you think that Staples was such a good corporate citizen that they really almost didn’t care about making a profit at all.

As a toiler in the vineyards of medical research, I certainly think people studying Lou Gehrig’s disease should get all the money they can reasonably spend. Our country’s elected leaders could easily provide it to them given that the U.S. now produces more wealth than any society in the history of humankind. We found a couple trillion to flush down the Iraq toilet easily enough.

Nor would I object to Barack Obama getting a bucket of cold water on his head if I thought it would rearrange his priorities.

But all these feel-good campaigns to dislodge cash from the public for medical causes is a big, fat distraction that does more harm than good. We’re not short of resources; we’re short of people power.

If our system weren’t in the hands of a corrupt class of snakes masquerading in human form, we would be channeling money and scientific expertise into disease-curing research already.

You won’t see the guys at Lockheed or Raytheon or the cops in Ferguson resorting to gimmicks like the viral ice bucket. They get their cash from the source—Uncle Sam’s pocket. That’s why people like Bush II can join in the public bathing fun.

I pass.

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