I'm trying to be a better person, which is why I occasionally put my spare change into that little donation jar they keep on the front counter at McDonald's, Taco Bell, and certain gas stations.
I never read the short paragraph letting you know what the money is being used for, but I don't have to. If you put a small container next to a picture of a sad looking child, I believe that it's safe to assume the money's being used for a good cause. And if I donate money for a good cause, I get good karma. And if I have good karma, I have a better chance of winning the lottery and establishing a better relationship with my ex-wife Joy Farrah Darville Hickey Turner.
But oddly enough, tossing my loose change at big issues like world hunger and childhood diabetes hasn't been doing enough to tilt the karmic cosmos in my direction. I'm also pretty sure that the employees at Taco Bell shake the change jar every night until they get at least a few quarters to split amongst themselves. So I decided to up the ante by donating a large amount of money to an in vogue issue.
I was going to give ten whole dollars to Haiti.
In the wake of Hurricane Matthew, I thought it might be a solid idea to give towards a Haiti relief fund. That way, I would be doing a good deed, thus canceling out the bad deeds of my past so that eventually my brother Randy and I could finally use all that lottery money to get on with our lives.
Of course, I realize that people in the United States also suffered as a result of Hurricane Matthew; but you don't get as many Karmic Brownie Points for helping out first world citizens. We live under the strict decree of a tacit social contract, and that contract clearly dictates that donating money to benefit a developing nation is worth more Karmic Brownie Points than donating to U.S. citizens below the Mason-Dixon line.
(Also, as a side note: A Florida law passed in 2015 by Governor Rick Scott allows individuals without the necessary permits to temporary conceal and carry handguns during a state of emergency–which was declared in the wake of the Hurricane Matthew. That makes some sense, as it would be irresponsible to leave an unattended firearm at home in the wake of an evacuation. I assume, though, that at least a few Floridians used this law as an excuse to drunkenly walk around town and shoot at the hurricane while shouting, "STAND YOUR GROUND!!")
All in all, it seemed like donating money to Haiti would be a quick and easy way to boost my karma while maintaining a lofty sense of self. But after approximately two minutes of Googling research, I learned that donating money to a good cause was a little less noble than I'd hoped.
Haiti is perhaps best known to North Americans for the text-to-pledge campaign that followed the devastating 7.0 Mw earthquake in 2010. After the earthquake, over $13 billion was raised by various organizations to help the people of Haiti, but not much of that money made its way to Haiti. In fact, a congressional report states that 25 percent of the money raised for Haiti by the American Red Cross was used for internal expenses. That's nearly $125 million in bonuses, awkward office Christmas parties, and team-bonding excursions to happy hour at TGI Fridays.
I'm not good with money, but $13 billion is a lot of cash for so few results. The United States could buy Haiti for that much money. Or better yet, we could bring everyone in Haiti to America and relocate them to Wisconsin or Omaha or someplace that doesn't get hurricanes.
There's only two problems with that, really. The first is that, if Syria has taught us anything, it's that Americans hate refugees. The second is that relocating a bunch of Black people to America is how this country's race problems got started in the first place.
Knowing that my donation may not actually be use to help those in need gave me pause. It's frustrating to know that even when you spend your money on a cause, you still may not actually be benefiting those in need. Because, at that point, it starts to feel that all is lost. It begins to seem that there really isn't much anyone can do for those in need save for sending thoughts and prayers. My $10 wouldn't have been enough to save the world, but I'd hoped it would at least be enough to help someone out there. Now, though, I'm honestly not sure how to show support in a meaningful way if my money may not even reach the people it's meant for.
That said, I still donated $10 money to Haiti. After all, I care more about looking like I care than actually helping those in need. That's why I buy products featuring pink ribbons in October and pretend to root for the 49ers.