After a marathon gardening and heaving things about session I piled all the unwanted flower pots, garden furniture, and other backyard detritus into the carport and photographed it on the iPad. Then sent a Gumtree advertisement that it was free to a good home.
The pad went mad, as did the mobile phone. All the eager bods who would take it all…and then I waited. Two callers picked the heavy concrete troughs and birdbath and then a third man arrived with a tray top and danced away with the rest. From a dozen or more phone calls.
I’ve pulled the ad, notified the disappointed, and then received a right wigging from someone who goes by an anonymous name ( always a good clue ) that I had done the wrong thing by giving out my address. I inconvenienced him and all the slow vultures who might drive up later and be disappointed.
Clever point of view with free goods or dead mules. First come, first served is the name of the game round here when it is pure takeaway. That’s how it works with verge shopping and that’s how it works with flowerpot charity.
When is charity not charity? When it is extorted in consequence of threats. Then it becomes demanding money with menaces. A police matter…
In this unsavoury category I include nearly all professional fund-raising ventures that bombard the householder demanding money for unspecified people with sufferings that can only be assuaged through the accountant. They are but one stage cleaner than the ragged beggar that bails you up in the street or the thuggish hoodie who tries it on in the shopping centre car park.
Occasionally the organised charities will try it on with co-religion, national identity, or consanguinity. They will play the guilt harp as loud as the strings will stretch. They will try to inveigle you to fund-raising dinners that scour your pockets and then spotlight you to make sure you give out plenty.
Some will send you valueless goods – trinkets, stamps, stickers, or cards – that purport to benefit their poor makers – and dare you to reject them. Or they will expose a more ambitious range of quasi-ethnic junk in shops upon the premise that there is some sort of fair trade going on. Consider whether you need the tribal mask or the Australian dollars it takes to buy it. You can buy bread and vegetables with the dollars but try taking that mask to Woolies at grocery time.
But is it all bleak? Is it all hell with heels? Perhaps not.
The Sally Ann – Salvation Army to non-Australians – has had some dodgy money practices and some dodgy administrative policies in the past, but they still save bums from the street and still help poor families. The normal Salvationist is not dipping the till. They are still worth crossing the street to put money in the tin. And remember to tip your hat.
A question that is asked at our supermarket and DIY store checkouts every day. Oddly enough, the people or signs that ask it never really know how our spare change is actually going to be routed to the downtrodden – the answer they give when asked is invariably evasive.
It is not a new phenomenon. My parents were sponsors for a Korean orphan in the 1950’s – a young person supposedly named Park Chun Bok. They sent off money monthly to a charity that was meant to be feeding and educating the young person. I don’t know about food, but eventually some education was forthcoming – my folks found out through magazine journalism that the find they were paying into siphoned off about 80% of the money for ” administrative costs “.
Is this the case with all charitable contributions? One would hope not, but still…when you get a begging letter through the post – as I did this week – asking for money to support what is patently someone’s political ambitions…well, you start to wonder. It is at times like this that I wish we had a chip heater for our bath water to use up the spare paper and cardboard.
Do I ever give charity money? Not as much as once I might…but I still have some respect for several organisations. These are pretty self-effacing ones and do not live high on the hog. They just spend the charity money on the poor.
This used to be accompanied by de mouth full of Much Oblige’. I met many people who could do the routine perfectly. That decency seems to have gone by the boards lately – the gimmee is now the only thing that takes place.
It has, at least, streamlined the handling of the pan. I suppose it was a matter of efficiency – reducing the transaction to the basics; demand and supply – without pretending to a moral or social connection. In the hands of the government charity can be made cold, smooth, and mechanical – and like any cold, mechanical object it can lay dead to the touch. This must be a dreadful thing for those who actually need it – as opposed to those who take it for fun. If the latter might be miffed at their support being delayed or retracted, the former face real disaster.
My own experience of gimmee has been mostly one-sided – the support that health funds have afforded me in times of crisis were paid for with decades of premiums, good health, and no monetary return. I suspect I won the lottery of being healthy for the most part, but it seems like I should be complaining about it…Hmmm.
A recent brush with what purported to be charity but turned out to be bureaucracy and intrusion has convinced me that there is little to be expected from organisations – at least little that cannot be obtained with a revolver and a curt note thrust through the teller’s cage.
Other charities that ask for money based upon co-religion or implied guilt can go get stuffed. Particularly if their planned use of the money is gestures and theatre – I can mewl and puke for myself at a much reduced cost.
Here at the headquarters of The Australian League Of Virtuousness we have a motto:
” One Born Every Minute, And Five Born To Administer Them ”
It is engraved on the doorpost of the entrance*, and again on the lintel across the entrance. It is embossed on every chair in the visitor’s lounge, every place at the director’s 20 metre mahogany dining table, and every stall in the Executive Washroom. Nothing will wash it away, though, God knows, we’ve tried. Especially after Champagne Night.
Don’t get me wrong – I am not decrying the basic sentiment – it is just that it limits the number of divisions into which the contributions might be made. What do we do if we engage more staff members. The motto specifies five, but there is room in the stretch limo for more…and Bubbles, Brandi, and Trixie promise to be tireless workers in the cause.
I think that we need to take a broader view…and I have a black book full of broads’ names to hand. There is no sense restricting our activities to just the poor or downtrodden. The rich and arrogant are also in need of virtuousness and can afford to purchase a better quality product – or at least a lot more of it. We have contacted Kargotich transport for a quote on their high-capacity dumper trailer to haul more virtuousness as there is bound to be a saving in bulk. As yet the council has not replied to our enquiry about whether it is legal to dump it on the verge.
Goodness and mercy have often been said to follow the virtuous and this may very well be so. To that end we are suggesting that members of The League take sensible precautions and change their mode of transport and route frequently to elude pursuit. It is no good getting complacent about this sort of thing – if you are always kind and helpful you are one day going to be caught out at it and then where are you. Canonized, most likely. And some of those canons have a fierce recoil.
* At an angle of 45º.
Of wherever the latest horror has surfaced.
The Australian League Of Virtuousness scans the world’s press daily looking for the worst atrocities, natural disasters, repressions, tyrannies, scandals, and sports results. We have teams of dedicated memeists ready 24/7 to rush a soothing coloured filter or image of a candle onto the pages of social media as soon as the debris stops falling from the smoke cloud.
Note: We do regret posting the candle and picture of a guiding lantern as a response to the great Fire of Chicago. Also the photo of Mrs. O’Leary’s cow was a mistake.
We are also ready to collect canned goods, canned money, blankets, woolen money, old clothes, old money, and any other money needful for these occasions. The fact that we then distribute it to the members of The League for their use at the beach house over the holidays is neither here nor there. We give the public a chance to be charitable and a place to be charitable at. And beach houses can be desolate places at times.
We are not judgemental about the amount of charity that people can give is – we are as happy to take the widow’s mite as we are to take the iron-ore mining tycoon’s million dollars. We just adjust the difference by calling round the widow’s place a little more often with a little more forceful approach. It all adds up to the same in the end.
Don’t let yourself be fooled that all of the money goes in administrative costs, either. A lot of it goes on liquor and paid companions, and this has nothing at all to do with administration. We also maintain strong presents in the United Nations to ensure the smooth running of the political machinery. And we wrap those presents, too.
Remember that now is the time to give, and give again. Give until it hurts. We feel your pain, and we will think of you and pray that it continues.
Charity is when A gives to B unasked and C never hears about it.
Publicity is when A gives to B and tells C all about it.
Mendacity is when A gives B something from C and lets B think that it is from both A and C. And then lets D, E, and F know it, but forgets C altogether.
I do not know the correct English term for the circumstance where A takes C’s money, uses it for administrative expenses, gives nothing to B, and tells D, E, and F how charitable A is. I think there must be a name, but I just now it escapes me.
My vocabulary is not as extensive as I could wish…