Like most people, I do try to be charitable, both in attitude and in making an effort to give something to organizations whose charitable purposes with which I agree. But I’ve noticed a change in almost all of them over the past five to ten years. Now, it seems, as soon as I contribute, not only do I get a thank you, but another plea for more money, and another… and before long, another. Maybe I’m just a curmudgeon, but repaying my charitable efforts with more and more demands for contributions tends to make me less charitable, not more… and I find myself more willing to contribute to groups that don’t press me and less willing to give to those who do.
It’s not just charities. It’s everywhere. The U.S. air transport and aerospace industries are investing less and less in research and development and spending more and more on share buybacks and dividends. Airline profits are up, thanks to all the extra fees and charges levied on travelers. This trend is sweeping business, as I’ve noted before. Not only that, but now business after business wants the consumer to do their market research for them, by asking for customer feedback on everything from banking services to lodging, consumer products, transportation, automobiles, and who knows what else. Company after company wants me to go paperless, but I can’t go paperless for many because the IRS likes paper receipts and documentation, and if I go paperless, I’m the one who has to take the time and paper to print out all those receipts and documents.
Our state electric utility now wants to charge customers who use solar and wind power – because their use of less electricity will impact the utility. Politicians want more and more contributions for their re-election, and, in turn, business lobbyists want more and legislative favors for those contributions.
Students coming to universities not only want scholarships and more financial aid, but they also want better grades for less effort, and unhappily, due to the fact that most universities had bought into using student evaluations as part of the formula for determining faculty raises and retention, they’re getting higher grades for less effort. Of course, fewer of them are being taught by full-time experienced faculty.
All too many readers want books that are cheaper and cheaper – if not free – and I’ve had more than a few readers complain that the prices of my books are too high. Yet, given inflation, and market pressures, most publishers are making less per book, in real dollar terms, than they were ten or fifteen years ago, and that goes for almost all authors as well.
In ways large and small, almost everyone is being asked to do more, give more, spend more, do more of businesses’ work. Is it any wonder many people are less charitable in thought and deed?