Thought of the Day: Contraceptive Charity

A…certain company I am familiar with strikes me as one of the more absurd examples of spending a lot of money on really useless junk. For instance, a couple weeks back they brought in football star Tom Brady to give a half-hour interview / pep-talk.

All told, booking him must have cost the company a good hundred grand or more. And as far as practical benefits are concerned, a YouTube video would have done just as much.

Well, not quite. Because it’s main import was simply the fact of “we booked Tom Brady for our motivational speaker!” That is to say, it showed off the money and pull the company possesses. Basically, it was the corporate equivalent of gold spinners for your car: it serves no purpose except to show that you can afford it (the company does a lot of that sort of thing).

Did I mention that I happen to know for a fact that certain employees get paid about 10k less than the low-end of the national average for someone with their job title? And that there is zero work flexibility or remote opportunities, even for IT workers?

Yet at the same time, this company loves to preen itself on how much it cares for its people.

I notice this is a pattern; the more someone makes an issue about how much he cares about some abstract group, the more likely he’ll be mistreating or neglecting them in the concrete. Those who bemoan the most about the poor tend to push policies that harm them. Those who make the most noise about minority groups tend to encourage the worst and most alienating elements of those groups. And, of course, most if not all efforts to bring ‘power to the people’ end up rendering actual people increasingly powerless.

You see, generally when someone makes a big noise about how much he cares, it is usually the caring itself that matters to him. What he values is not the wellbeing of the people he is supposedly so concerned for, but the fact that the world (or perhaps even the mirror) sees that he is concerned. He is able to think well of himself and enjoy the approval of others.

It is contraceptive charity; all the pleasure and none of the responsibility.

So what’s the difference between this and someone who is genuinely concerned for the well-being of others? Simply that he concerns himself with the impact of what he does. He welcomes nuance and criticism. He’s willing to reverse course or abandon programs once begun because they don’t work, and he takes the trouble to check up on what their effects have been.

Basically, he treats the matter like real life and not like a game.

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