Money Solves Everything Nothing
September 2, 2005

For the life of me, I cannot comprehend why the American solution to everything is money.

Currency is both fake and temporal. In a matter of days, our entire system of currency could be wiped out before our very eyes. Money is only as valuable as we decide. A community of people could easily come together and decide on a different form of currency. Airlines do it every day. They are called frequent flyer miles. I am bothered if not perplexed by the extreme amount of attention being placed on the need to give finances towards the aftermath of hurricane Katrina. I trust this will be an unpopular opinion.

Long-time readers of this site know that I am not a huge fan of large fundraising organizations with high overhead and little financial accountability. Today is no different. I have never been one to give out of manipulation, compulsion, or guilt. That is not the true spirit of giving. I give because I feel led, feel a responsibility, or see a need. And boy is there a need! At this time, I am not entirely convinced money is what New Orleans needs. Not right now. Right now they need relief. They need resources, but they don't need money. Resources and money are not interchangeable realities. I know this may not seem time-appropriate, but it needs to be said. Where an abundance of un-allocated money is present, evil usually follows. And in case there is any doubt about the inherent nature of unredeemed humanity, let's just examine the events that have transpired over the last 48 hours in our dear Creole city down South.

I am having trouble reconciling exactly how these nonprofit organizations plan on distributing said funds. When tens of thousands of people have been homeless and without food for going on four days now, scraping together a financial plan just doesn't seem paramount. True leadership needs to rise up and start calling shots. That isn't to say I won't give. I will. But I am of the belief that money does not solve all problems.

Christians attempt use Ecclesiastes 10:19 as a foundation for the "money solves everything" philosophy. The scripture reads:

A feast is made for laughter, and wine makes life merry, but money is the answer for everything.
However, few people correctly examine the context of that scripture--namely the fact that nearly the entire book is written and narrated in sarcasm. Sarcasm is often used in the Bible to convey attitudes and expose hearts.

In true American conscience-appeasing fashion, we are all able to throw a few hundred dollars each at the hurricane victims on a hope that in some way we've done our part. During the aftermath of 9/11 it manifested as ridiculous amounts of blood-drives resulting in pints of unusable blood. After which time, we can then sit back and watch the soap-operatic like media coverage, feeling glad we helped and just a little bit relieved it wasn't our brother working at the World Trade Center, or our house under water.

I submit that within America, we have all the resources we need to accommodate this disaster, but there is no desire among American citizens to sacrifice. It is my very best estimation that Americans are giving finances out of their abundance, and not from a place of sacrifice. (It is important to note that abundance and sacrifice are relative words) We live in the land of abundance. There are plenty of people with unoccupied buildings and massive amounts of space to house displaced victims. There are stadiums, there are gyms, there are football fields. There are factories, businesses, and restaurants that have food that can be given away. There are excessive amounts of unused clothing collecting moth holes in warehouses. There are businesses that can offer their services free of charge if they were willing to sacrifice. But somehow, giving money is the easy way out.

Does the government have a responsibility to put in a plan of action to accommodate its tax-paying citizens? Absolutely. But in the absence of true leadership, there should be some burden of responsibility felt by those who are in a position to do more than just throw dollars. It is a sad commentary on what suckers of government teats we are when all we can scrap together is some eloquent whining about what the government is not doing to help. And I agree they are not effevtively helping the situation. AT ALL. But there is an element of personal responsibility and accountability that is being glossed over for the sake of making excuses.

I admire and appreciate all that Wal-Mart is doing especially in light of their own victimhood to looters, but it is very easy for Wal-Mart to pledge 15 million dollars. That is no skin off their gigantic backs. That is a check that can be written by one Walton family member alone. Do not hear me wrong, we need corporate donations. But I am thoroughly convinced that giving money is the easy way out.

I received an instant message from my sister a few moments ago. She is a student at the Honor Academy in Garden Valley, Texas which is just outside Dallas and six hours from New Orleans. She mentioned that their 500 acre campus is considering opening itself up to Hurricane refugees. That is what I'm talking about. It didn't take 400 donations to the Salvation Army for them to decide they could do that. It just took an attitude of sacrifice for the sake of others in need. Supermarkets and grocery stores can come alongside them and donate food and personal hygiene items for housed victims. We do not have time to be doling out dollars right now. Save that for later.

It's not just about money. It's about shifting resources folks.

Posted by Ambra at September 2, 2005 12:57 PM in Current Events
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I somewhat agree. There are orginizations like Joyce Meyer's ministries that is giving 100% of donations directly to the people. They are not giving it in the form of money but have sent people down there to help and bring supplies. So, I do think there is a place for money.

On the other hand thousands of people have responded saying that they are willing to house a family. There are army bases that are in the process of being closed down. Various cities have opened thier arms to the potential of housing people. The issue is getting someone in there in a timely manner to pick up the survivors and transport them.

Let me add that many people who have offered to house famailes have been told to just give money.

Now, I do believe that some of us would rather give money to make themselves feel better. I honestly believe that there are people who do not care but for the most part a lot of people are truly concerned and have no clue what to do but give money (and thank God they are doing that).

So, I am not totally in agreement with you on this one. The bigger issue is the fact that they are just now sending the kind of relief needed to help survivors!

Tiffany makes a good point. Relief organizations often have quiet is kept deals with major suppliers that allow them to buy goods at an extremely discounted price that other people/organizations can't get. Sometimes the suppliers want it kept quiet for whatever reason that they are giving, and the relief groups want to honor that. I know of two in the first situation and 13 in the second, mostly individual givers.

I do agree though that there isn't a lot of sacrificial giving. Giving 'til it hurts. I don't have much money to give, but I've been running myself ragged working and answering phones to help people give donations and get information. I've been workign overtime since this happened.

I don't want to sound like I'm tooting my own horn... I just hope you'll be encouraged to hear another person is striving alongside you.

I agree to the point where it is a choice. For the people in a position to give needed resources, it is a good thing to give. That is expecially true in terms of housing space and vehicles that can handle the difficult situation. But for some people it is not a choice. There are people who do not have resources other than cash, and who cannot or should not cease the endeavors they are currently spending their time in. For those people I feel that prayer and cash are the two things they can really give. They should definitely be discerning in how they do that, though. I recently heard that Catholic Charities is doing good work (I've worked with them on a local level, and they are absolutely amazing at stretching funds).

Amy Wellborn disagrees: It is a given that what most relief agencies want and need right now is money. Anyone who has ever worked in relief can tell you stories about the oddly inappropriate material donations they have received, and what a hassle dealing with stuff, rather than money can be. So, yes, that is the first priority, particularly since needs change so fast, people are moving all over the place, and cash can be built up for the very tough, long-term road ahead.

You can read the rest of her post for a much broader discussion.

Of course you're right about all the material goods that can and should be donated, but the problem multiplies into ones of sorting, storage, and distribution -- not to mention what to do with all of the unusable stuff that is donated. Administering "stuff" is much more labor-intensive than administering cash.

There will be a time to donate stuff -- and organizations are already setting up to accept and distribute material donations. But until that infrastructure (horrid word, but apt) is in place, it really is better to give cash.

Unless of course you're in a position to create that infrastructure, in which case, why aren't you? But most of aren't in that position, so out come the checkbooks.

"It's not just about money. It's about shifting resources folks."
Tsk, Tsk. Ambra, I'm so disappointed in you. This is a far cry from your usual insightfulness.
1) Money = resources. (That's what "medium of exchange" means.)
2) How exactly does one "shift resources" without gasoline, which costs a whole lot of money?
Not having any real estate of my own to open up to refugees and being far away from them personally, the best way for me to help is to give money to organizations like the Red Cross which will use my money to efficiently provide for the needs of those affected by the hurricane.
Please don't "dis" the money drives. Most Americans can't hop in a car and drive over to the Gulf with a trunk full of food and water, so sending money is a logical way to help out.

God bless the widow dropping her two mites into the bucket.

Aw man, you missed your chance!
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