Life in Buffalo
12-21-00
Last time, if you recall, I complained about the lights in the park. A friend of mine, Erica, happens to live directly across from the park, so she must look at the lights constantly. This would drive me insane and force me to run out and destroy the lit-up Santa Claus with a crowbar, which someone did last year. But not Erica! She says, "Sure, it's a visual blight, but it's for a good cause."
Ah, yes, the good cause. The money people pay to drive around the park looking at the lights goes toward the
United Way, a charity. To be honest, however, the United Way is really not that good a charity. Here's why.
All charities have a certain amount of overhead, money they pay to promote their charity, pay for offices, etc. The United Way advertises like crazy. It seems every other city bus has a United Way ad. They'll have a picture of a baby and say, "She loves her bottle. Unfortunately, not as much as her mommy and daddy love theirs." Or a woman: "She has a dream house- and a nightmare husband." And so on. All that advertising is expensive and as a result the United Way has over 50% overhead. In addition, this charity does not help any one group of people- it distributes its profits among a lot of miscellaneous charities, each of which has overhead of its own. The result: very little money goes to actually helping anybody. On the other hand, the United way does help some charities no one would ever give money to otherwise, such as Ice Skating for the Blind. Which is real. You know what would make sense? Giving the lights in the park money to the park. Maybe to help repair the damage done by the electrical wires which tear up the grass leaving huge muddy holes which last all year. But is that what is done? Of course not.
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