Season of Giving

Season of Giving

It's been a rough couple of years. The economy has sort-of kind-of rebounded as we've learned to deal with the coronavirus, but many businesses went out of business and many people lost their jobs. The unemployment rate has mostly rebounded, but that doesn't mean people are debt free. Last year lines for food banks stretched across miles of freeway.

I normally don't donate to organizations focused on Americans. I happily volunteer at food banks or with neighborhood cleanup groups, but I rarely donate to those organizations. My reasoning isn't great, but I basically believe that Americans were given every opportunity to help themselves since the country became the superpower after World War II, and if they elect policy-makers who undermine that advantage, that's on them. I will not fund the organizations trying to make up for the shortcomings of the political system, but I will help them perform their tasks if I believe they are a benefit to society. After all, I live in that society, so I can't just let it rot.

Donating to organizations with efforts focused abroad is different by my reasoning. Most countries were not presented with the advantages that allowed America to come to such wealth and power. How many countries from colonial Africa formed peaceful and long-lasting governments on their first try? How many of us would form a reasonable system of government after being exploited for hundreds of years? I know I wouldn't. The power vacuum needs to be filled, and it will be filled by all sorts of evildoers. Many countries never had a chance to get things right. They're trying to get by with what they were left and were forced to be almost a century behind the rest of the world. They were used as the war toys of other countries so they didn't have to fight their own wars. In my view, money spent towards building better infrastructure or nutrition in Africa or southeast Asia does more for humanity than helping fund a school or food bank in the US.

These last 2 years I've been forced to rethink that line of reasoning. The United States is not in that same position of power. My neighbors are hungry and without jobs, and housing is impossible to build in California, making prices are sky-high. I'm lucky enough to still have a job. I'm lucky to have food to eat and clean water to drink. My building isn't threatening to kick me out for not paying rent. But even in San Francisco, I am not everyone. The homeless camps are growing, even as the governor has implemented eviction protections, and the food banks are running low. Controversy over the election last year caused huge and violent splits, and the lack of resources is making things worse. I shouldn't judge the world by Twitter, but things look bad. Many families are have turned to food banks for the first time. Their finances are stretched thin, and no corn subsidy can bring prices low enough to afford a balanced meal.

This year and last year I decided to donate to organizations working primarily in America. It's not a big revelation, and I'll still be giving to organizations I've donated to in the past who work overseas. But they'll get slightly less than before because I feel like my country is at risk. Instead I'll be donating to my local food bank. It's impossible to do good work when you're hungry. Kids need food to grow more than adults, and if they don't get food now we'll be dealing with a lifetime of people who grew up without full brain development.

I don't really know how to end this post. There are so many more things to say, but they'd just be rants with no point. There are so many people I want to yell at, but they wouldn't care. There are so many laws I wish didn't exist because they've made things worse, but those who passed them are reaping the benefits and won't have it. And there are so many people who refuse to believe bad things are happening. Construction is still happening in San Francisco. Traffic is down (but not by much). The streets are quieter. If you're a homeowner, things are better now than ever before. And I hate them for thinking that way.