Whatever happened to “pullin’ yourself up by the bootstraps”?

marcoreport

MarcoReport is a forum wherein Marco and his guest writers share their opinions on hot topics of the day.Along with sharing personal essays; poetry; and anything else we feel may interest you!

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Once upon a time the solution to every financial hardship was hard work, saving, and borrowing. There were other solutions like stealing, gambling, and giving up – but those came with consequences that eventually ruin your life and mess around with your soul.

Growing up in a household of seven kids with a full-time Mom and a father who worked two jobs, the ‘hard work’ philosophy was engrained in us. As per my father – “government assistance is not an option if you’re able to work”. I’m yet to meet a man as proud as my Dad who doesn’t waver from his convictions. It was my Dad who made my oldest brother John get a paper route when he was 12. He delivered our local newspaper, The Jersey Journal, throughout our neighborhood. John then passed on the newspaper delivery business to my brother Tony, who then gave me the keys to the Empire. During our reign we all spent a couple of hours a day folding up newspapers so that they can fit in a red-faded satchel and then walked our neighborhood flinging papers onto porches. Unless the customer was a cranky senior citizen who insisted it be placed in those circular steel rods attached to the bottom of the mailbox. If it wasn’t placed there the cat-loving old ladies would scold you and punish you by not giving you their customary 15 cent tip. Incidents like these were our first introduction to “the customer is always right” adage and we took our complaints in stride when we screwed up. The lesson was that hard work gets rewarded and that there are no short cuts. The paper route was a character builder which is why I have a hard time feeling sympathy for a lot of these “Go Fund Me” pages I come across on Facebook.

Now before I go any further, I know that there may be some of you reading this that have started one of these pages or forwarded them on for someone else. I may have even donated to a few of you. My issue is not with the requests that are last ditch efforts in life and death situations. I also don’t have issue with a close friend who is raising money for a charity by doing something like running a marathon. An artist who shares his talent in exchange for donations is also understandable.

What irks me are the random requests all over the internet to pay routine bills; purchase goods; pay for a trip; pay for an education; start a business; make a movie; and other bullshit reasons.

My definition of a “bullshit reason” is: “soliciting money – WITH NO INTENT TO PAY IT BACK – from others outside of your immediate family and close friends for the betterment or enrichment of yourself without you making every possible effort to do it on your own. This means trying even harder when you think you want to give up”.

Prior to this GoFundMe epidemic people fought hard for what they wanted and if they fell short they adjusted and re-evaluated the situation. This means that if you were trying to go to college and fell short financially, you delayed entry and worked to save some money up. It meant that you if have a dream to do something, you bankroll your own dream.

A few minutes ago I came across a GoFundMe page from a student who wants to study abroad, an opportunity that every student I’ve ever known would want. This solicitation was posted on my feed by someone I know who wrote “this is a great kid in need who deserves this chance. Let’s make her dream come true.” I have no doubt that the sender’s intent comes from a good place, but give me a fucking break! What has this kid done to raise money other than ask strangers for it? Does she have a family willing to invest in one of their own? Has she applied for a loan? Why do people think that it’s perfectly appropriate to solicit funds in the way that they do on GoFundMe pages? AND why is society buying it!!

I also read this morning that during the weekend a Boston Red Sox fan was hit with a baseball bat after it slipped out of a hitter’s hand. The injury was serious as the bat hit the woman on her head. Of course her health is the priority and by all accounts the Red Sox organization is doing all it can to make sure she is cared for. Yet within 24 hours of the accident her family set up a GoFundMe page to raise money for the unlucky fan sitting in great seats. Their goal is 120 thousand dollars! The first thought that comes to mind is how did they come up with this figure and why would a family member be so concerned about finances within 24 hours of an incident? No one has billed for anything yet and I’m pretty sure the Boston Red Sox will step up to pay the bill if they have to. Not one penny was spent or billed and all the family can think about is raising money? Obviously this is an unfortunate attempt to cash in on something because it received media attention and people who have no control over their emotions fall for it. A request for prayers would’ve been much more appropriate.

Asking people for money is nothing new. A lot of us grew up watching Jerry Lewis beg us for money every Labor Day Weekend to fight Cerebral Palsy. Jerry made a killing working these 2 days on one weekend for a lot of years. We all have heard Sarah McLachlan sing “In the Eyes of an Angel” over a video montage of suffering dogs to raise money for the ASPCA. The ASPCA CEO, Matthew Bershadker, makes about $800,000.00 a year and 30% of the money they get gets spent on fundraising to get more money. These are from huge “non-profit” organizations and their spending patterns have always been questioned.

Just last week 4 charities— Cancer Fund of America, Cancer Support Services, Children’s Cancer Fund of America and The Breast Cancer Society – were busted by the Federal Trade Commission. These organizations have suckered consumers out of more than $187 million! So what makes people donate to causes without doing their due diligence? The simple answer is humans are kind by nature and suckers when their emotions are exploited. These large non-profit organizations have researched how to solicit donations and they have it down to a science. They know what to say, when to say it, how to say it, and who to say it to. They now have to compete with individual citizens on sites like GoFundMe to sucker people out of their money.

GoFundMe was founded and launched in 2010. Since that time, 10 million donors have raised $850 million and it has become the world’s top fundraising website. Although the site makes it clear that you should only donate money to someone you know and trust, social media and social networks allow for a broader distribution than just your friends and family. Besides if people were only soliciting to friends and family why would they need GoFundMe and give away 5% of their loot? Social networks are the fuel to the fire.

I saw an example of this when I noticed a reality TV star post three GoFundMe pages on her social media sites. Considering that she has hundreds of thousand followers I’m sure her re-posting of the pages came with a price. Celebrities with a huge amount of followers routinely post products on their Facebook or Instagram pages in exchange for money. In these instances, the celebrity is equivalent to Puff Daddy selling Proactiv in a TV commercial. It’s a celebrity cashing in on his fame endorsing shit he probably doesn’t use. However a celebrity posting a GoFundMe link on their page is a lot shadier and questions their integrity. The countdown to a lawsuit against a celebrity who posted a fraudulent GoFundMe link is on. Someone’s bound to sue.

Social networks have become the new cardboard box. Instead of being a hobo walking the streets with a cardboard box that says “Need money for Food”, people are starting GoFundMe pages pulling on your heartstrings and trying to justify why they are being lazy opportunistic beggars. I know I have the right to ignore these requests and that I could mind my business, but witnessing these requests and the people that fall for it is annoying. Good-hearted people getting ripped-off is fukked up.

Thanks for reading my two cents. If you would to read more of my rants and commentary, please click the link to my GoFundMe page below and donate towards my blog!

gofund.me/wd5a9r8

gofundme



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