Monday, November 24, 2014

Charity Begins With Whom?

Let me get this one out there from the start. I have no problem with charity. In its purest form, it's a noble, altruistic act of giving which improves the lives of others and the emotional well-being of those who provide it.

But - and let's face it, you knew there was going to be one.

It's charity season here in the UK. The annual "Children In Need" telethon has just raised £32m for worthy causes both in the UK and abroad. On top of that, another version of the Band Aid project has been wheeled out to raise funds for the Ebola relief effort in west Africa.

What do these things have in common? In short, they consist of very well off people trying to guilt the less well off into giving a percentage of their income, in many cases to fund projects and services that should be provided by governments or international non-governmental organisations anyway.

I'm sure there are celebrities and people in the public eye who donate cash and goods freely and willingly to charities anonymously, without wanting to appear to be taking credit or showing off. I'm sure they are out there, being genuinely altruistic.

However, I'm also willing to bet that a substantial number of those who get involved in exercises like Children In Need and Band Aid do so on the basis of donating absolutely nothing other than their time.

See, time is supposedly a valuable concept when it comes from celebrities. Because a minor celebrity gave up an afternoon of snorting coke off the penis of a shemale prostitute, you should feel morally and ethically obliged to buy a copy of a song you don't want. It'll make him or her feel better next time they dodge the odd million in tax with some phoney scheme or other.

Indeed, as Sir Bob of Geldof has been encouraging us to do, we should download multiple copies of the same song. Lots of them. Even though you can't stand it and would rather carve your own ears off with a spork than listen to it for the hundredth time. You should do this, because it's the "right" thing to do.

You shouldn't question that two of the driving forces behind Band Aid - Bob Geldof and Bono - are reported to have dodged millions of pounds in tax in their native Ireland with the use of aggressive avoidance schemes. Money that could either have been used to deliver much needed services domestically or as part of Ireland's overseas aid budget.

You shouldn't question that some singer takes the opportunity to boast about turning up to record a song for absolutely no fee every time they are interviewed on Sunday Brunch or Loose Women, clanging some enormous name drops into the process. They've given their "time" to charity, and you - and those Africans bleeding out of every orifice - should be bloody grateful and support them unstintingly.

In effect, these celebrities are chugging you through the medium of television and music. They're standing in front of you with a clipboard in the street and attempting to guilt trip you into signing up, while at the same time being happy to take their commission in screen time or kudos.

So the next time you see one of Little Mix, or some berk from TOWIE posing in front of a gaggle of starving orphans, pick up the phone and donate. But do it direct to the DEC Appeal, or Oxfam, or Shelter or one of the other dozens of well known charities that support needy causes across the world for the other 51 weeks a year when celebrities are off doing whatever it is their day job is.

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