self-gratifying philanthropy

Discussion in 'Ethics, Morality, & Justice' started by jhuang, Dec 11, 2005.

  1. jhuang Registered Senior Member

    being involved in several ngo's and etc. sometimes i hear from ppl that this sort of "community service" is really a matter of self-gratification--a way to relieve rich, western angst.

    so then at what point does philanthropy no longer become self-gratifying? and to what extent is anything NOT self-gratifying? and even if it is, does that really take away from the contributions of your actions? i mean, paying for a kid in a third world country to get a polio vaccine and a basic education still benefits the kid even if you did it so you could sleep better at night...right?
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  3. Baron Max Registered Senior Member

    I give $1 per year toward the African problems .....and that's just so I can say, "I give to the African Relief Fund every year!" Others think I'm a great and wonderful humanitarian and that I really give a shit!

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    Baron Max
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  5. ZenDrake come to the darkside Registered Senior Member

    I consider the trait to be pathological.

    It is altruism that has corrupted and perverted human benevolence by regarding the giver as an object of immolation, and the receiver as a helplessly miserable object of pity who holds a mortgage on the lives of others - a doctrine which is extremely offensive to both parties, leaving men no choice but the roles of sacrificial victim or moral cannibal...
    Ayn Rand, The Objectivist, June 1966

    Altruism is a code of ethics which hold the welfare of others as the standard of "good", and self-sacrifice as the only moral action. The unstated premise of the doctrine of altruism is that all relationships among men involve sacrifice. This leaves one with the false choice between maliciously exploiting the other person (forcing them to be sacrificed) or being "moral" and offering oneself up as the sacrificial victim. Why is the second considered good? Apparently because Jesus said so.

    But the dichotomy of sacrifice or exploit is false. Between rational people, there should never be any sacrifice involved nor conflict of interest. The true moral interaction between two people should be an interaction as traders - trading value for value in a mutually agreed on and beneficial manner.

    This is not to say that benevolence and good will are immoral. It is only sacrifice that is immoral, and being generally benevolent is not a sacrifice but a benefit and a virtue. The difference is that to be "good" according to Altruism, one must hand out blank checks to all who claim a need; while according to Egoism, ones own life is one's ultimate standard of value against which all acts must be analyzed
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  7. Happeh Registered Senior Member

    In my opinion, the people that say that are trying to get into your head and destroy your sense of community and helping others.

    It is sort of like the Israelis saying Muslim charities are terrorists. They are not terrorists. The Israelis say that as a way of hurting poor muslims all over the world.

    Evil people tell you that doing good for others is selfish. That is what evil does. It gets in your head and stops you from doing good.
  8. ZenDrake come to the darkside Registered Senior Member


    Its been shown that the aid and money given to Africa doesn't help matters,
    it actually makes them worse. Africans have said as much, and stated that the aid isn't going where its need but is rather furthering the despots and tyranny.
    So in this case, wouldn't the aid givers really be doing this for their own sake?
    You're also creating masses that expect to be taken care of rather than taking care of themselves. Good job renob.
  9. ZenDrake come to the darkside Registered Senior Member

    In many cases however, these NGOs and aid agencies often pursue policies that are
    detrimental to the long-term growth of Africa and even advocate policies that exacerbate
    poverty and increase death and disease.'african%20aid%20detrimental'
  10. Happeh Registered Senior Member

    It is my opinion that the "wisdom" you are spouting is "whites are superior to blacks" propaganda.
  11. Renrue Someone Registered Senior Member

    I support that theory and I am no "white" (can't believe people are still labeling each other as colors). Though I believe in helping the people of Africa, we should send only food and clothing, not money. Africa is full of civil unrest and the money given is used mostly to benefit one of the tribes.

    As cruel as it may sound, we should just let them fight it out until they can form a unified government. Because if we help the losing tribe, we elongate the war, and what happens when the other side loses?

  12. ZenDrake come to the darkside Registered Senior Member

    Thats a remarkably stupid thing to say.
    Is your opinion based on anything contained in that statement of mine?
    It was not "wisdom" that I was spouting you knee jerk marionnette,
    it was facts relavent to this thread... is what you had to share at all
    relavent??? I think not. And unlike your little nugget, my opinion is based on
    facts. The fact that your little label of racism has nothing to do
    with any statement made here on this thread, or having anything to
    do with this thread.

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    I'm guessing that you didn't follow the link I provided to the study showing the detrimental effects of NGO's and the current aid policies are having in
    Africa. Next time take a minute to read and you won't have to get your
    asshole bunched up over perceived bogeyman racists hiding in the shadows
    cranking on a propaganda machine. (of your imagination)

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  13. jhuang Registered Senior Member

    Actually, food can be even worse for Africans, since it tends to promote dependency even more than money does, according to this article in the BBC I read a few weeks ago. What I was talking more about though in terms of donations/charities, was medication and vaccines.
  14. Baron Max Registered Senior Member

    Yeah, but even those the corrupt officials, etc collect them and sell the damned things on the black markets!!

    Baron Max
  15. ZenDrake come to the darkside Registered Senior Member


    The lack of good governance in health care systems has resulted in a huge diversion of medicines from sub-Saharan Africa back to Europe, where they are sold for much higher prices. Last year, Belgian customs authorities found that at least three million doses of GlaxoSmithKline’s Combivir® (zidovudine), scheduled for sale in Africa at about EU0.80 per dose, had found their way onto European pharmacists’ shelves, where they sold for about EU6.00 per dose. Quantities of GlaxoSmithKline’s antiretroviral drugs Epivir® (lamivudine) and Trizivir® (abacavir) also have been illegally diverted back to Europe.

    The drugs were supposed to go to HIV/AIDS clinics in Senegal, the Ivory Coast, the Republic of Congo, Togo, and Guinea-Bissau. An estimated 28 shipments, with a retail value of EU29m, came back to Antwerp through Paris and Brussels. A spokesman for GlaxoSmithKline estimated that about a quarter of the drugs it had exported to Africa had come back to Europe.

    Furthermore, new research indicates that hospitals and clinics may be part of the problem in Africa, rather than the solution. In a series of three articles, a group of scientists recently challenged the consensus that 90 percent of HIV infections in Africa were caused by sexual contact. This belief always has been a bit of a puzzle, because heterosexual transmission is not a big factor in developed countries.

    The researchers note the “sexual” consensus emerged in 1988 and has subsequently suppressed inquiry and dissent. In a literature review, they claim that medical transmission of the virus--that is, through re-using needles in health facilities--led to 48 percent of HIV infections through 1988, when the “sexual” consensus emerged. Currently, they estimate that only 25 to 35 percent of the HIV incidence in Africa is attributable to sexual transmission. Although most experts still hold that unsafe sex is the main mode of transmission, this new research demonstrates uncertainty about what is causing the AIDS epidemic in Africa.
  16. ZenDrake come to the darkside Registered Senior Member

    "...If by aid we mean making a difference in the lives of people over the long term, helping people to live in a situation whereby they do not have to face those kinds of emergencies, then obviously aid has failed, because the number of people affected by emergencies has significantly increased over the years...Aid in the short term might have saved lives, but in the long run it seems things are getting worse..." [Dr. Birhanu Nega, President of Ethiopian Economics Association, Ethiopia]

    Africa is (never was) not poor. It is our minds that has been messed up. We have been told by the West for so long that we are poor and we have started to believe it. The West developed on the back of Africa and they are not willing to let go the honeycomb. The Africa Commission is a diversion for us not to focus on our own initiatives like Africa Union and Nepad.

    Tony Blair is trying to undercut and undermine the efforts that Mbeki and the illustrious sons and daughters of Africa are trying to do for themselves. We are not in need of aid. We have the resources that are fuelling the economic engine of growth for the rest of the world except Africa. The West should well leave us alone to sort our own problems.
    Omollo Gaya, Kenya

    How many times does the world still have to help Africa? These governments just use the money to enrich themselves. The poor people do not benefit. Nothing changes.
    Desireé, Pretoria, South Africa

    This is loud sounding nonsense, what do you think has changed in the social, economic and political structure underlying the African countries to make you believe that the Commission's findings will be a turning point to poverty in Africa? The same corrupt ruling governments have not changed. Take for example, Uganda. Currently it's a dry season and cattle keepers are loosing their stock at an increasing rate, yet donors had provided funds some time back to construct valley dams only to be swindled by the untouchables in government.
    Lukwago Robert, Kampala, Uganda
  17. ZenDrake come to the darkside Registered Senior Member

    DR Tajudeen
    The New Vision, 3 June 2005

    not because of ignorance but the result of a mindset that infantilises Africans and cannot trust the Africans to do anything for themselves. Things have to be done for us.

    A more fundamental challenge for reversing this 'whiteman's burden' ideology is for us to do things for ourselves and invite those we like instead of wanting to be invited by others to seek solutions to our problems.

    No number of marches in Europe and global concerts for Africa will end poverty in Africa if Africans are not marching in their millions demanding and enforcing pro-poor and pro- people policies and governance from their own governments and institutions.

    We cannot be spectators in our own affairs.
  18. ZenDrake come to the darkside Registered Senior Member

    not because of ignorance but the result of a mindset that infantilises Africans and cannot trust the Africans to do anything for themselves. Things have to be done for us

    the legacy of altruism run amok.
  19. water the sea Registered Senior Member

    Oscar Wilde said that philanthropic people lose all sense of humanity. I agree.
  20. jhuang Registered Senior Member

    How so? And then how do we best gain (or maintain) a sense of humanity?

    And ZenDrake, I understand what you're saying about Africa. Examples and history have shown that a much of the aid that gets sent to these countries winds up in the hands of their despots (Zimbabwe is a recent example). But if we continue to "leave Africa alone," how can we be sure that the situation will get better? Lack of preventative action in Darfur or Rwanda is part of the reason that the countries fell into their respective situations. You quoted someone from Kenya; it's true, after the Mao Mao Revolution, Kenya has become one of the most progressive nations in Africa. But even if these problems are eventually rectified, is it okay to let millions die between now and whenever the solution comes?

    And sure, I know "infantilizing" Africa isn't the answer; any sample of African literature will prove that the continent's situation is subtle and complex. But when speaking about aid, receiving aid doesn't automatically "infantilize" somebody. If this sentiment exists, I think it's only because the media tends to spin their stories that way because it's easier for most to digest.

    Perhaps the best solution is just to educate people in the West about current and historical events of Third World nations. That way, whether or not they decide to help them out, they'll at least understand what's happening and won't say/do anything too stupid.
    Last edited: Jan 5, 2006
  21. water the sea Registered Senior Member

    By minding our own business. Apparently, this is extremely hard to do for most people.
  22. ZenDrake come to the darkside Registered Senior Member


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    :m: I really think that a cessation of meddling
    would help them implement the neccesary
    reforms and to build themselves a selfsustaining
    When there is a food shortage in Africa,
    and the west unloads tons of grain to ease
    the suffering, how do you think the African
    farmers fare? Instead of letting the market
    take care of itself, these practices undermine
    and exasperate the problem, IMHO.

    After rains failed the UN warned that millions were at risk. Camera crews looked for starving babies and found some. The aid bandwagon charged ahead.

    But Zambia, worried that the US maize it was receiving might be genetically modified, banned all aid - unwittingly providing an interesting experiment.

    Donors were aghast. But then something strange happened: nothing. "Cutting off supplies had no impact," former Zambian agriculture minister Guy Scott says.

    There was no famine - only local shortages Zambia could deal with.

    "NGOs flatter themselves into thinking that they save lives," says Mr Scott, who finds it "arrogant of the West to think that without whites, without pop stars, Africans would all be dead".

    The West tends not only to overstate the effectiveness of aid, but also to underestimate its harmful effects.

    Too much of a good thing?
    A bonanza often undermine self-reliance.

    "It is axiomatic that flooding the market with food drives down the price for local farmers," Mr Easterly says.
  23. jhuang Registered Senior Member

    Last edited: Jan 6, 2006

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