Snake Oil

There is a very peculiar branch of snake oil salesmen called “televangelists”. You have seen them – “put yewer hayund on the the TV screen and yooo will be heyuled” – once you send a donation of course.

Sooner or later most of them implode, usually involving  visits to hookers  or fraud, with the usual breastbeating claims of “I hayuve sinned” but only after the video evidence is played on Fox or NBC.

They are a peculiar bunch, but somehow manage to have their own TV stations and Crystal Cathedrals, and at least in the US seem to have more political power than you would expect from a bunch of loonies that believes that healing can be delivered via Channel 9.

That being said, they do provide some moments of amusement  and Pat Robertson is the latest one to do so with his statements about Haiti. Apparently according to Pat, the Haitians made a pact with the Devil to get rid of the French and now are reaping the cost of that pact.

Come on Pat, don’t you know that France already has a pact with the devil, it is called the Lisbon Treaty.

Haiti – the double tragedy

As I’m sure that everyone is glued to their news feeds to see what is going on in Haiti, a double tragedy is occurring.

First, there is the appaling cost in human misery and suffering in this very poor country. You would be completely heartless not to be touched by the scenes of devastation and carnage that are emerging. Most compassionate people would be asking how they can help.

The second tragedy is that those very people are being hoodwinked and taken advantage of. When you are making donations to charities, be very careful to ensure that the money you are giving is actually going to help the cause that you are supporting. Too often, if you look underneath the covers, it is not.

There are many worthy charities that are doing good works around the world, but there are many that are not. Before you give, take a look at their web sites and see if there is any indication of how their funds are dispersed, and if there isn’t any quantifiable accounting, then go elsewhere.

Let me give you an example, and I’m sorry to say that this related directly to Haiti. The singer Wyclef Jean is a board member of a haitian charity called the Yele Haiti Foundation. This foundation has received funding from sources such as Angelina Jolie and is set to potentially receive a million dollars a day as people open up their hearts and purses to help Haiti.

I f you look at the IRS records for this organization, there is almost nothing that is going to the people of Haiti, instead the funds are being dispersed to for-profit organizations wholy or partially owned by Wyclef Jean or other board members or to promotion and PR costs.

If you want to take a look yourself, then go here http://www.thesmokinggun.com/archive/years/2010/0114102wyclef1.html?link=rssfeed

This one example, while being current is unfortunately the tip of the iceberg as far as charities are concerned. With many, a very large percentage of their funding goes to promotional and or fund raising fees. I’ve seen it as high as 80%.

It is sad to say – but in charitable giving, caveat emptor is just as applicable as in buying a used car, and in many cases the used car is a better and more honest bet.

My England

I’ve just returned from a trip to England, and while there are still some bright spots, it is a gloomy tale that needs to be told.

My parents live in Wolverhampton, which according to lonely planet is the 5th worst city in the world. Now I’m going to take issue with that – have they never been to Detroit or to many of the cities of the Industrial Heartland in the US?

That being said, the UK is not the country that I remember growing up. The benefits culture is massively out of control, with the poor sods who actually work for a living subsidizing the feckless to the tune of 170 Billion pounds a year, and that is the official Treasury forecast for 2010, nevermind what the actual cost will be. It would seem that the aim for a significant number of girls, especially in the more disadvantaged areas of the country,  is to GWK from school (Graduate With Kid). That way they can get a ticket on the Gravy Train Express and receive not only benefits, but free housing and a long list of other freebies.

The country is also disappearing (has disappeared?) into the miasma of political correctness where the concept of “being British” is being drowned by the clamour of multiculteralism and out of control immigration. I have no issues with immigration – I myself moved to Canada, but it needs to be dealt with in a reasoned way, and immigrants need to be “society positive” not a drain. When you move to a new country – integrate. If you are not willing to integrate, don’t go.

I honestly don’t know what my father fought for in the Second World war – but it sure as hell wasn’t the society that is in place there now.