WHAT ARE YOUR RANDOM THOUGHTS?

Share in the great thoughts, Rich Paschall

What are your great and random thoughts on any topic? Comment below and remember the more random, the better. Also remember, I have to keep it civil, so you do too.

Donald Trump is on the cover of Esquire as “Hater in Chief.”  Has it come to the point in our history where we will elect someone we all agree is a hater?

Was Marco Rubio really born in Miami?  I want to see his birth certificate.

Ted Cruz was born in Calgary, Alberta, Canada and applied to formally renounce his Canadian citizenship, which happened May 14, 2014.  His father is Cuban.

Cruz was a complainer about whether President Obama was born in Hawaii and that his father was not American.

Where are the Cruz “birthers?”  Oh wait, those Republicans do not want too much egg on their faces.

Do you think all these random thoughts are easy?  I have to stop every three sentences and get a cookie.

Is it officially hot chocolate weather?

If my marsh mellows are left over from last year, can I still use them for hot chocolate?  S’mores?

If you do not have a team in the NFL play-offs do you really care?

Do you still watch the Super Bowl just for the commercials?

How many think a concert in the middle of the game is appropriate?  How about before the game so we can cut down on the six to eight hours of pre-game analysis on various networks.

Pre-game analysis on the NFL Network official begins two weeks before the game.

I still want to see the Super Bowl in a snow storm.

Will the NFL have their lawyers send me a cease and desist order for using the words “Super” and “Bowl” along side of one another?  I guess they are a rather unique combination of words requiring a trademark.

Giant flakes of wet snow look really nice coming down, until you have to shovel it up.

Healthy couples with healthy teenage children should be made to shovel their walks or face fines…just saying.

I don’t think I ever made a snow angel and I am not going to start in a wet snow.

I bought a ticket to see an act I never heard of (R5) so that I could see the opener, MAX Schneider.

There are many videos that will show off his singing better than this one, but this one is more fun.

I bought a ticket to see Steve Grand. I had written about the All-American Boy in the past, but never got a chance to see a live performance.

Album

Album

I am excited that Chicago is being inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame.  I have seen them at many venues around town and I was never disappointed.

Chicago in Chicago, August 2014

Chicago in Chicago, August 2014

Tom Law supports some of his music videos via a website called Patreon.  That is where you can be a patron for each video for any amount you wish.  At a high enough level you get to chat with Tom and even get his music a little before it comes out.

Chicago is at the United Center in April.  I have never seen them there.  mmmmm?

Chicago Cub fever is already beginning.  It’s not even time for Spring Training.

Why does the election season have to be so long?  Why?

Why does the baseball season have to be so long?

Some “charities” I have never supported have sent me more mailings over the years than I could count.

Some charities I have supported have sent me so much mail I wonder if they have made any money off me.

Don’t bother telling charities to stop sending snail mail.  It doesn’t seem to help.  It seems to work for email.

I saw a facebook meme that claimed President Eisenhower ended segregated schools by executive order.  I guess they never heard of the Supreme Court ruling in Brown v. Board of Education.

Here’s what I have to say about facebook memes.  “Snopes!”

A 19-year-old Australian boy, Joel Adams, seems to be moving up the charts with one of his own songs solely off social media hype by fans.  At first it did not do well and they were giving it away (I downloaded it.)  You can go to itunes for it now.

I guess it is tough to lip sync your own song.  That is what they are doing in the music videos.  Tom Law says when he does not get it just right, that’s when you cut to another angle or some shot where you do not see him singing.  Ooops, did I give away an industry secret?  Nah.

Winter, Chicago and this guy!

FIRMLY RESOLVED

Your New Year’s Resolution, by Rich Paschall

Have you given up on it yet?

You know what I mean, that New Year’s Resolution you felt you had to make.  It may have seemed like a good idea in December.  You knew you were going to eat too much and drink too much from Thanksgiving to New Year’s Day. You knew there would be cookies and cakes at work, at home, at Aunt Hilda’s house. You did not want to go to Aunt Hilda’s house, of course, but you were willing to eat her cookies and whatever that greenish Jello stuff was that she puts out every year.

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There were candy dishes everywhere too!  You swear that some of your friends and relatives only bring out the candy dishes when the holiday season comes.  And the Holiday season can be long, very long.  That means there is plenty of opportunity to eat up the candy from the time the half price Halloween candy runs out to when the after Christmas candy sales are over.  “Fie, you devil dogs, who doll out the candy as if it was health food,” you may exclaim.  These candy tempters lurk around everyone’s desk at work and around the coffee table at those awful Christmas parties.  The unfortunate also have co-workers who are actually “candy pushers,” getting you to buy the stuff so little Johnny can go to day camp or basketball camp or Camp something.

With Aunt Mary, Aunt Sherry and Aunt Scary conspiring against your waistline, you just know you should resolve to do something healthy when the attack of the gingerbread men has ended.  You look forward to January 1 with the resolve to eat well, exercise, give up whatever vices are dragging you down.  When the New Year came it was going to be all about you, and not about extra helpings of Aunt Bertie’s Sweet Potato Casserole.  You know, it’s the one with the Praline topping you can not get enough of.  “Besides, aren’t sweet potatoes good for you?” the conspirators may ask.

If all that spinach dip, taco dip and cheese dip don’t drive you to a resolution, perhaps all that alcohol will.  In addition to whatever your favorite beverage may be, there’s eggnog and glogg (or gluhwein, depending on your relative’s background), white wine, red wine, pink wine, and champagne.  There are specialty concoctions someone found in a recipe book or online.  If you make it to the Wild West Sports Bar or some similar place, someone will probably buy you a shot of something you would never order for yourself.

Party!

If you are in the hangover den on New Year’s Day, you would certainly have resolutions on your mind.  Some of those may start with “please god” and end with “never again.”  Those are the types of resolutions that fall to the wayside first.  You may be dead serious when you make the pledges on January 1, but you are perfectly willing to forget about them on the following weekend.

So what was it?  Were you going to lose weight?  Many people adopt this promise and some even join some weight loss group to help them out.  They may get inspirational speeches and coaching.  They may order health food from the organization, spending a lot more than if they went to the health food store and bought it themselves.  Soon some chocolate mousse will cross your path, calling out your name and you will cave in to the thing you never meant to give up anyway.  I knew a woman who spent a lot of money on health food and healthy shakes from a club.  They were so unsatisfying that she also spent a lot of money on junk food “snacks” to get her through to the next “healthy” meal.

If you were going to give up alcohol for January or until St. Patrick’s day or some other lofty goal, you may soon find the birthday party, sporting event, or post season work party to cancel that idea right out of your brain.  If you were encouraged to make such a resolution based on how you felt when you finally dragged yourself from the bed to the sofa on January 1, then it will probably go away soon anyway.  Those resolutions are made in the heat of the battle and forgotten when the fight is over.

Since all that partying does not qualify as exercise, you may have decided you need to work out.  Trust me, if you were not doing much physical activity prior to January 1, the turn of the calendar may not be enough of a push to get into shape.  Many work too hard at it in the first week, causing all those unused muscles to ache.  That in turn leads you to the feeling that you must lay your poor body down.  If your tough work out leads you to a night out because you “deserve it” after all your hard work at the health club, you may be on the road to blowing two resolutions at once.

So, are they history yet?  After all it will be two weeks into the New Year and a lot of life has gotten in the way to pull you off course.  If your resolution was to stop some vice like smoking, gambling, watching porn or something I would rather not know about, it is like the other resolutions.  You did not need a specific calendar date to give them up and you will not succeed unless you are firmly resolved.

LEADERSHIP

What makes a good Leader? by Rich Paschall

With the election cycle in full swing, and the seemingly endless Presidential debates at hand, it is fair to ask what makes a good Leader.  What traits do we expect a Leader to have?  What do we admire in our leaders?  What qualities do we want to avoid in our leaders?  What generates our respect and our willingness to follow?

Your Vote Counts

It is not enough to say that our leaders should “lead.”  What does that mean exactly?  In a certain sense they all want to lead, but where are they trying to take us?  What message is their leadership style sending?  Are they willing to lead us in a good way?

It is also not enough to say that they should “inspire.”  What does that mean as well?  If they inspire you, I guess you would, of course, want to follow.  Not all inspiration is filled with positive messages or moves in the right direction.  Will we know a good leader when one comes along?

Perhaps at the top of my list would be “trustworthy.”  Can we trust someone to do a good job?  Will they always look out for the best interests of the nation, the community, the local parish or whatever group they are asked to lead?  This trait speaks to the virtue of honesty.  If we trust someone, then we must believe deep down that they are honest.  They will not steal or take advantage of their position.  They will not use their position of authority to enrich themselves at the expense of others.  Do you trust your leaders?

A good leader must also be a “problem solver.”  Every organization will have it challenges along the way and the solutions are not necessarily apparent. This is where a good problem solver is important.

problem solving dogsIt is not that the leader needs to solve the problem himself or herself, it is that they must know the best way to get to the answers that are being sought.  In this regard, leadership might be stepping aside to let someone else step in to handle an issue.

To lead a person must also be self-confident.  In this manner some may come across as cocky or arrogant, which could indeed be the case.  However, one who lacks confidence in what he does can never be a good leader. Indecision will creep in as the dominant trait. Then the leader will find himself following others, falling prey to advice that may not be in the best interests of all.

Which way is your Leader going?

Which way is your Leader going?

Passion is important for those at the top of an organization. I have seen it often at the local level where leaders either do not feel passionate about what they do, or have lost that passion as the years wore on.

Just because you are a good leader in one decade, doesn’t mean that you will be a good leader in the next. Our diocese has a habit of moving successful pastors from one location to another, but success in one place doesn’t mean success at another.  Sometimes a problem arises when the so-called leader does not share the same passion for the next assignment as he did for the previous one.

Leaders must be resilient. They must have the ability to “roll with the punches,” as the saying goes. Some do not take real or perceived criticism well. Their downside begins to show when their side of things indeed seems to be down.

One thing for sure — a leader will face criticism. Not all will agree with everything that is said or done. It’s inevitable. A new leader may enjoy a “honeymoon” period of no criticism, but it won’t last. If you’re President of the United States, it will be brief indeed.

A leader needs vision. He or she must have a clear idea of what it is they should do and how they’ll get there. Again, this doesn’t mean the leader has to do it all.  A leader with vision will inspire others to work hard to help a vision become reality. If your vision doesn’t inspire others, you may need to rethink it.

A leader must effectively manage others, especially subordinates in the work place.  This means training, coaching, guiding and building up the resources of the organization, town, state, or country through hard work and careful planning.  “My way or the Highway” is not an effective leadership style, although I have seen some try to use it on the local level.  It is not what any organization needs and in fact tends to drive away good people.

Problems should be seen as fixable, not something to avoid at all costs. Some so-called leaders would choose the path of least resistance. If they avoid something where there might be even the slight chance of failure or disappointment, they are not leading at all. This is like the “prevent defense” in football.  Sometimes that prevents you from winning.

A good leader also is a good listener. I’m sure you’ve heard “no one learns anything new when he’s talking.”  A leader knows when and how to listen.  A leader knows which questions to ask to get the information to understand the issues and seek the right course of action.

Recently I sat down with a local pastor to discussion an event that he felt did not go well in every aspect.  At least I thought it was going to be a discussion. Instead it was an unpleasant hour listening to his negative point of view of certain aspects of the event. I’m not sure he listened to anything I said. He could just as well have had the conversation over coffee with himself.  I’m not sure why I bothered to talk at all.

Are your leaders listening?  Do they care what you think?  Will they serve your interests? As local and national elections near, what traits should your elected officials have?  As you join community organizations, what traits do you want to see in their leadership?

MORE GREAT THOUGHTS

Random Greatness, by Rich Paschall

How many random and unconnected thoughts can you come up with in one week? Just how random is your life anyway? If I keep writing random statements, does that indicate a failure to focus?  Uh…what was I saying?

Since I received 15 calendars in the mail from various organizations, down from almost twice as many a few years ago, I had no need to buy calendars for 2016.

I bought two calendars for 2016.  One is the Tom Daley calendar and one is Chris Mears.  Chris’ calendar is autographed, although I can not make out the signature anyway.

You don’t know who Tom Daley and Chris Mears are?

If I was going to the Olympics, I would want to see diving and my friend would want to see basketball.  I guess we will stay home, in our respective countries.

If my friend from Colombia comes to visit I plan to take him to the nearby Colombian restaurant to see how authentic it really is.

When we go to German restaurants, I compare the food to the memory of my grandmother’s cooking, or her sister’s.

When my friend from France visits we do not go to a French restaurant because he can get that at home.  Besides, he says, the French charge too much here for food and wine.

Eat local, drink local.

I did not find any Andes candies in the Andes.

To Rionegro

The Andes

Do you think any Eskimos go to Arizona or Florida in the winter?

My yellow tortilla chips are yellow.  So are the white ones.

The spicy guacamole from the local store is too spicy and the regular is too mild.  We need a medium.

There is a big difference between currency exchanges here and currency exchanges in other countries.  The ones here do not exchange one currency for another.

I think I will have to go back to the airport in Miami if I want to exchange Colombian pesos.

This is not a new story but I just ran across it.  It seems a man practicing his right to “open carry” his brand new gun was robbed of it, at gunpoint.  I guess the thief was glad the other guy displayed the gun openly because he told the victim he liked his gun.  KOIN news story is here.

Every now and then the line from Forest Gump comes to me.  You know the one.  “Stupid is as stupid does.”

There is something called the Denying Firearms and Explosives to Dangerous Terrorists Act that will never pass Congress.  The NRA is against it.

If an organization supports the right of terrorists to buy weapons (as a second amendment right), does that make them a terrorist organization?

How many people still think Mark Zuckerberg is going to give them a lot of money if they share some Facebook post?

OK, everyone, repeat after me, “I will check Snopes.com or responsible websites before reposting stuff on Facebook, twitter and other social media.”

By responsible websites I do not mean FOX News.

All followers of the news channel whose name should not be mentioned should watch the movie Citizen Kane and keep watching it every week until they get it.

Followers of so-called Patriot radio should watch A Face In The Crowd and should keep watching it every week until they get it.

If you have not heard of Senator Joseph McCarthy, you should definitely read up.

Is it just too random if I switch from politics back to entertainment?

British musician and YouTuber Tom Law says he is moving to Croatia.

From photo shoot in Bath, England

Tom Joseph Law, from a photo shoot in Bath, England

Having missed him at least twice in 2015, I think I will definitely catch MAX Schneider in March.

Sometimes I catch myself randomly watching popular You Tube personalities and saying, “I don’t get it.”

What is your favorite Humphrey Bogart movie?  If you do not say “Casablanca,” don’t even speak to me.  How can you possibly say something else?casablanca-poster

I was disappointed to read that George Lucas does not like the direction of Star Wars under Disney.  I guess he should not have sold it.

How many Congressmen have ever visited the Library of Congress?

If the band Chicago is from Chicago and the band Kansas is from Kansas, where did UFO come from?

Resolutions?  What resolutions?

GREAT THOUGHTS SOMETIMES ESCAPE ME

Random Musings by Rich Paschall

Often I have great thoughts, frequently while driving my car, which I mean to write down as soon as I get home.  Usually, I forget.  Life intervenes.  They may not be ideas for an entire blog post, perhaps they are just interesting one-liners.  Many have drifted away.  Here are some I remember.

I noticed that cotton candy does not taste much like cotton, although I do not munch on cotton much.

I notice the White Zinfandel is actually pink.

drinks table dinner

I also noticed that buffalo do not have wings.  If they did I would guess they would be quite large.

Is there any surprise who Billboard’s Holiday 100 had at the top of the Christmas song play list this year?  Radio airplay, sales data and streaming activity, all measured by Nielsen, put a familiar group at the top: All I Want For Christmas Is You (Mariah Carey), Rocking Around The Christmas Tree (Brenda Lee), The Christmas Song (Nat King Cole), Jingle Bell Rock (Bobby Helms) and of course White Christmas (Bing Crosby).

So if radio stations gave up to two months of their programming to holiday music and half of that music was religious but not Christian, do you think right-wing Republican heads would explode?

So here people who have been ticketed for running red lights and have been caught by red light cameras, condemn the city for having red light cameras and want them removed.  I guess it is the same for speed cameras.

Last week we had a sleet attack of what turned out to be heavy and wet ice pellets accumulating greater than usual.  You could shovel it like snow, but many did not.  Some did not even bother to clean off their stairs.  Now the temperature has dropped and the stuff is hard like a rock.  It is a true hazard and I wonder how some of these people get up the stairs to get in and out of their houses.

Shovel it!

Shovel it!

Snow and ice-covered sidewalks are not only difficult for the mailman and other delivery persons, they can make the elderly and handicapped prisoners of their houses and apartments.

When I say mailman, I mean men and women letter carriers.  I could see some of you were about to write gender equality speeches to me.

When I say letter carriers I mean those men and women who deliver mail and packages.

If I make a mail delivery faux pas statement, I have a cousin who is a postal worker who is glad to slap me up side of the head.  I love you anyway, Milan.

I notice the Republican clown car has a few less Republicans than when it started out on its cross-country trip.

After the Republican debates, the Pulitzer Award winning news organization, Politifact, consistently finds statements by the candidates to be mostly false.  This does not seem to bother supporters of these candidates.

Donald Trump:

“We’re practically not allowed to use coal any more. What do we do with our coal? We ship it to China and they spew it in the air.”

Coal is the biggest source of energy for electricity in the United States.

Kentucky elected a Republican governor whose campaign pledges included a promise to dismantle Obamacare in the state.  A lot of Kentucky citizens are angry that they are going to be losing their healthcare.  You get what you vote for.

Kentucky was one of the Affordable Healthcare Act’s biggest success stories with a big drop in the uninsured.  Soon Kentucky can figure out how to deal with all the people who show up at hospitals without insurance.

Let’s have a show of hands.  How many think that the US Middle East policy has been a success at any point in the last 60 years?  OK, that covers my lifetime.

Let’s have a show of hands.  How many think that we should have no further gun regulations whatsoever in this country?  OK, that looks to be just the few NRA members in the back of the room.

When the Second Amendment was enacted I think people may have been using muskets for guns.  You know, single ball, one shot at a time things, not AK 47 assault weapons.

A lot of people see red when you start talking about the Second Amendment.  Remember it is not a religious thing and it was not handed down by god.

Top 10 lists, entertainment articles and short stories with happy endings are much more popular than my political commentaries.

On New Year’s Eve it looked like many people were buying cheese, crackers and beef sausage rolls at the supermarket along with the usual assortment of wines, beers and champagnes.

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With all those people buying wine and “Champagne” the super market should have had more checkout people over 21 years of age.  “21 on check-out 3.”

French wine producers in the Champagne region hate it when others call their sparkling wines “Champagne.”  You probably had sparkling wine on New Year’s Eve.  Real Champagne is not cheap.

I am happy to have had another year here at SERENDIPITY to give you Sunday articles, as well as an occasional extra day.  I am grateful that Marilyn is here to illustrate most of them, no matter what the topic, and often on short notice.   Her readers have been gracious to my every changing topics.

When I started here two years ago I mentioned to Marilyn that some of her readers may not like the types of things I write.  She said not to worry, just go for it.  Thanks, I did.

WHAT U.S. STATES WANTED TO SECEDE IN 2012?

Not one single state filed anything suggesting secession.

Why? First, because no state government was stupid enough to lose the benefits they get from the central government. Secession is illegal. The Civil War decided the issue and there’s no going back. All of those petitions were put together by groups of discontented sore losers who didn’t understand in the United States, an election decides the issue.

We don’t govern by petition. We protect your right to petition (thank you, First Amendment), but that only means we don’t throw you in jail for doing it, not that your petition has force of law.

The U.S. does not govern by opinion. No matter how often or how loudly you tell the world about your dissatisfaction on the Internet, on social media sites, or anything else, it’s the ballot box where we collect and count votes. We have a constitution. We have laws. We vote. We count votes. The winner is decided, the loser takes his marbles and goes home.

A petition by the losers of an election does not trump the right of the people of the United States to freely elect their representatives. That you have the right to petition doesn’t mean your petition is going to change anything. Its existence is a testament to how free a country this is. Most other places, you’d be jailed or shot.

75-ElectionNK-6

The reason that not a single state government has petitioned for secession is because no one running a state is as stupid as these petitioners. They know they can’t go it on their own and aren’t going to try. Not to mention that a state trying to secede is considered to be in rebellion, for which there are serious penalties. As for the argument that we seceded from England, we were never part of England. We were a colony, a far different legal position than that held by a state.

Battle of Lexington and Concord revolution

We did not secede from England. We rebelled against English rule. We are heroes because we won, but had we lost, it would have been ugly. It would have been treason.

Rebellion is a serious matter and the price of losing is dreadful. Rebels are hanged or shot, pretty much universally, so anyone who thinks they ought to rebel needs to be prepared to die.

AN HISTORICAL NOTE: The American colonists’ first choice was not to break away from England. We wanted the rights of full British citizenship and full representation in Parliament. In other words, far from preferring rebellion, we wanted inclusion. We wanted our status as a colony upgraded to the British equivalent of statehood … something that our American secessionist wannabes already have … and are too ignorant to value.

No one is going to secede. Maybe after the alien invasion, things will change. Until then, secession is a non-issue.

congress in session

For the blood-thirsty idiots who think a civil war is a good idea:

The Civil War cost more than 620,000 American lives, above and below the Mason-Dixon line. Death doesn’t care what color uniform you wear or what color skin you have. Dead is dead. The war between the states caused more American deaths than all other wars this nation has fought combined. ALL of them combined. I don’t know the actual percentage of the population that perished in that hideous conflict, the gory legacy of which we are still dealing with 150 years later, but it was a very substantial percentage. Anyone who suggests that doing that again is a good idea is a criminal.

I don’t care what you believe. No one who values human life, believes in God, or has any kind of conscience or moral compass would suggest we take up arms and start slaughtering each other.

The Peacemakers.

If we are unable to live together, we will not survive as a nation. How can anyone claim to care about this country and then suggest we destroy it because they don’t like the President? Does this sound like patriotism?

There are too many people who have yet to grasp the concept that in a contest, there are always winners and losers. You, over there, with the sign and the sour face. You lost. Deal with it.

Respect the constitution. Work within our excellent system of laws. If you don’t respect our government enough to honor its fundamental principles, you really should go live somewhere else, if you can find anywhere else that will have your sorry asses.

Does it surprise anyone that the “leaders” of this bogus “movement” to secede are largely from the same states that produced the glorious Civil War? You think race might have something to do with it?

The number of signatories, assuming that they could be verified as real people, does not come close to a majority of citizens of any state — nor even enough people to elect someone to congress. It’s a bunch of malcontents trying to get media attention. In other words, sore losers.

TIS THE SEASON

This is the “giving season.” Not only does Christmas make many people feel they should give whatever they can afford to those less fortunate, but it is the end of the year. If you are going to donate money as a tax deduction, now is the time.

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Giving is good and worthy, but be careful to whom you donate. There are a huge number of charity scams, some legal, many not. They call on the phone, they send emails. They may solicit you on the street. What’s the real story?


I got a call a couple of months ago from a group supposedly collecting money to help women who have breast cancer. Specifically, this group purports to help woman by giving them money to cover the not-inconsiderable expenses connected with cancer. Any cancer, but breast cancer is currently in vogue. I ought to be on a list somewhere. Probably several lists given the breadth and diversity of my physical issues.

“Our goal,” said the collector, “is to assist women with breast cancer who are financially struggling.”

I asked her if she was offering to give me money or asking me to give them money. Because if she was asking me to give them money, she was calling the wrong woman. But if she was offering to help me out, I would be very grateful for any assistance.

Fake breasts

Nice tee-shirt. No part of the price went to charity, no matter what it says

She seemed confused by my question, so I explained that I am a breast cancer victim. I’m in persistent financial straits, so I should be exactly the type of individual for whom her organization is collecting funds. So, if the goal is to help woman with cancer who need money and they’re offering to give me some, I’d be delighted to give them my address so they could send a check. They already have my phone number. I’d be expecting your check. Not.

She told me to have a good day and hung up.

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So — for whom are they collecting the money? No one ever called to find out if I need help. She did insist they were collecting money for women just like me. I was obviously not on their “to be helped” list — and I’ve never heard of the organization.

No doubt they will use the money they raise to raise more money. Which they will use to line their own pockets. No one will ever benefit from it except the fundraisers. Another scam.

"Direct cash" is what they really give to someone other than themselves.

“Direct cash aid” is what really goes to support causes — about 5%.

Which is how these things seem to work. Have you ever heard of anyone actually getting any help from one of these groups? Ever? Even a rumor of someone who knew someone who heard about someone who was helped by such an organization? I haven’t. Not one person anywhere ever.

Tee shirts: I have a few breast cancer tee shirts. Some were gifts. One I bought because it made me laugh. Do not assume that any part of the money these transactions goes to charity. It doesn’t. Tee shirt makers’ personal bank accounts are the only cause they support.


I got a note from a friend of mine recently. She asked:

This may seem irrational, but …

I have some bitter feelings about ACS, left over from when my Mom was dying of multiple myeloma (think Geraldine Ferraro) back in the early 1980s, when there really was no treatment for that devastating disease. As her caretaker (and single parent, low-income but employed), I was feeling desperate and alone one time so I called the local chapter. The person who answered the phone day was curt and dismissive, telling me that the only way they could help was by giving us rolled bandages — which my Mom didn’t need. I like to think it would be different now, but ever since that phone call (just a fluke?) I have taken a dim view of ACS.

Not surprisingly, The Charity Navigator, a group that rates charities and how much of the money they collect actually gets to someone other than themselves, rates the American Cancer Society poorly. Two out of five stars.

I answered her as follows (this is my actual answer, with identifying information omitted for privacy reasons):

To the best of my knowledge, this is not an organization that has ever helped anyone. Ever. I called them when Jeff had cancer and they were just as helpful to me as they were to you. This is one of many “charitable organizations” that seems to exist to collect funds so they can collect more funds. And pay their CEO a princely salary (more than a million dollars annually). As far as I’m concerned, they’re a legal scam. They don’t help anyone.

Exactly who does get the money? Good question. Worth asking. When you get fundraising calls, it’s normal to want to give, if you can. After all, it’s for charity. Isn’t it?

worst charities

Most of the money ends up supporting the fundraisers.

Maybe. Maybe not. Before you open your checkbook, find out who they help. Where the money goes. Many “legitimate” groups — the bigger and better known especially — give almost nothing to help anyone or anything except themselves.

Typically, the percentage that goes to “serving those in need” is less than 5% of the total funds collected. If you gave $10, that’s 50 cents. Not much of a return on your investment. This doesn’t take into account the actual scams of which there are a frightening and rapidly growing number.

If you give to one of them, you have thrown your money away. For nothing and no one. How people can use other people’s suffering to enrich themselves? I don’t know, but, it’s done all the time. By many people.

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A word about the Salvation Army. Although they do some good stuff, they charge high prices for donated items. I have seen clothing I donated tagged at prices so high that I couldn’t afford to buy it back. I no longer donate to them. Instead, I find groups who give clothing and other necessities to those who need it — free. Our church collects coats and other warm clothing, as do most churches in cold winter areas. There is also Planet World and other groups.

A FEW GOOD CHOICES

Catholic Charities of USA and associated local chapters support food pantries, free clinics, emergency programs for anyone who needs help regardless of religious affiliation. The American Kennel Club helps dogs, all kinds of dogs, purebred and not. The ACLU (American Civil Liberties Union) provides legal assistance. Whether or not the work they do is something you choose to support is a different issue, but they do live up to their charter.

On the negative side, there’s the United Fund which exists to collect money to support its efforts to collect money. PETA doesn’t give anything to anyone except maybe each other. The American Breast Cancer Association (zero out of four stars) is a legal scam as is the Breast Cancer Prevention Fund  (one star) and there are many more.

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Your local church, synagogue, or mosque is a far better investment. Local religious groups do a lot of good in their communities, quietly, without fanfare. Usually behind the scenes and for free.

Direct charity is always a great choice. If you have a friends who having a hard time, help them. At least you will know your money went where it’s genuinely needed.

Bigger is not necessarily better, especially when you’re talking about charities. Big publicity campaigns mean that big money is being spent and not on helping people or doing research.

Most national charities have local chapters — and they do the real work. Local chapters need to raise funds themselves to continue their work because the national groups keeps the money for their own purposes — usually raising more money and paying high salaries to executives.

Donate to local groups rather than the national organizations.

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Finally, lots of charities have similar names. You need to know the precise legal name of the group. Scams and legitimate groups sound the same when spoken quickly by a solicitor on the phone. Don’t donate to street collectors or telephone solicitors unless you personally know the group and what they do.

Ask for literature. If they don’t have any, it’s a scam. Even the smallest groups have a leaflet of some kind. Do not assume a website means anything. You know how easy it is to create a website … fake address and all.

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Ask questions. Do your homework. For many of us, finding a little money to donate to anyone is a stretch, so before you give, know to whom it’s going.

Otherwise — I’m serious about this — give the money to someone who is struggling. At least you will know your gift helped someone. It won’t be tax-deductible, but that’s not the point, is it?