If you have email, you know that there is something in this world called Giving Tuesday. Since 2012 it’s happened on the Tuesday after the weirdly named Black Friday. It’s an occasion for “charities” and “nonprofits” to guilt you into putting money in their trough, and it’s backed by the usual corporate and “charitable” elites. As Giving Tuesday’s Wiki entry says,
Reception of Giving Tuesday has generally been positive, with a large number of organizations, including Google, Microsoft, Skype, Cisco, UNICEF, the Case Foundation, Save the Children, and others joining in as partners. Giving Tuesday has been praised as an antithesis of consumer culture and as a way for people to give back.
Of course, the idea that by getting you to give them money instead of spending it on yourself, or deciding for yourself where to spend your charitable cash, big corporate charities are combating “consumer culture” is no more logical than the idea that a guy who robs you on the street is trying to restore you to the simple life of the poor. And the notion that when I give to a cause I like, or, heaven forfend! to a person I like, I am giving something back . . . that piece of effrontery is almost unspeakable. If Microsoft ever gives me something, I will consider giving something back. So far, it hasn’t. Oh no. Distinctly not.
I expected ARI’s message to be somewhat like the comments I wrote above — bottom line: keep your money!
And speaking of effrontery — how insolent is it to imply that an amorphous something called society gave me something that now I need to give back . . . to UNICEF, or any other self-designated organization, the distinguishing characteristic of which is that it never had anything remotely to do with me?
I would expect my unfavorable view of organized “giving” to be held by many people, especially the good people at the Ayn Rand Institute. Most readers of this journal are well acquainted with Rand’s belief in the form of rational self-interest she called “selfishness.” So when I received an email from ARI designating the Sunday after Thanksgiving as Selfish Sunday, I expected ARI’s message to be somewhat like the comments I wrote above — bottom line: keep your money! Imagine my surprise when I discovered that Selfish Sunday was just another occasion for giving — only this time to give to the Ayn Rand Institute, so it could give Ayn Rand books to high school students.
What’s the difference between giving to the United Nations Foundation for the prospect of a brighter future, and giving to the Ayn Rand Institute for the prospect of a brighter future?
So what’s the difference between Giving Tuesday and Selfish Sunday? ARI’s email explained that Selfish Sunday is “our way of inviting you to consider spending just $5 to help the Ayn Rand Institute in its fight for a better culture, for your sake.”
Uh . . . OK . . . But on Giving Tuesday itself, ARI went further. It sent out emails trying to replace “Giving Tuesday” with “Trading Tuesday”:
That’s how we’ve renamed “Giving Tuesday” — to emphasize Ayn Rand’s trader principle: mutual exchange to mutual benefit. And today, just $5 allows the Ayn Rand Institute to supercharge your money’s power. . . .
Will you trade us a bit of money for the prospect of a brighter future?
So, again: what’s the difference between giving to the United Nations Foundation (an originator — natch! — of Giving Tuesday) for the prospect of a brighter future, and giving to the Ayn Rand Institute for the prospect of a brighter future?
Now, if ARI said, “The difference is that we’re doin’ good stuff and the rest of them are doin’ bad stuff, so we hope you can give us some money, sometime,” that would be swell. You can say that at any time; you don’t need to wait till Stupid Sunday or Tiresome Tuesday. But the notion that when you give to ARI you’re either giving to yourself or doing a deal . . . that ain’t so swell. No, not at all.