The Hundred

Today's topic is brought to you by the Creative Writing Prompts at Super Teacher Worksheets:
1. Imagine you had a hundred dollars, but you couldn't keep it. You had to give it away to a person or charity. Who would you give it to? What would you want them to do with it?

There are 29 more where that came from.

I will also stipulate that I cannot benefit from this act of giving. I cannot, for instance, give the money to an electrician with the expectation that he will de-crazy the wiring in my house. I also cannot give the money to an organization, like the zoo, with the expectation that they will use it to continue feeding the tiger - thus enriching my occasional zoo-going experience and preventing people I know from being mauled when ol' stripey chews through her fence and goes grocery shopping. The money must vanish in a puff of smoke, and leave me with only a warm sense of satisfaction.

It might be weird to give it to a person. Any situation where I know a person well enough to give them the money to would create a conflict with the anti-reciprocity condition I set down. I could give it to a homeless person and just keep walking, but I don't think that would give me the sense of charitable satisfaction I'm looking for. That also seems like a way to attract lots of unwanted petitions for more hundred dollar gives.

One person-to-person option that feels good is to give it as a tip to some deserving restaurant employee. The mechanism is already in place for me to quietly give them the money, it would be somewhat clear that I didn't expect any additional service in return, and I'm pretty sure it would be put to good use buying groceries or paying the bills or some very practical purpose other than heroin supplements.

The other option was to give the money to a charity. Givewell.org presents a compelling argument that there are three acceptable options:

  1. Against Malaria Foundation - buy anti-malaria mosquito nets for kids
  2. GiveDirectly - give money to people that have less money
  3. Schistosomiasis Control Initiative - de-worm folks
Evidently, the #1 choice manages to save someone's life for every $2,300 they collect, the #3 choice gives a de-worming treatment with every $0.68 they collect, and the #2 option is ... very appreciated.

If I was strictly looking to massage away my guilty over my flush-with-cash feelings, the #2 option would be appealing. However, in this instance, I have decided that I will operate as though I have a peaceful soul. In that case, it is a clear choice between saving 4% of a child's life or buying 147 packets of de-worming gel (?) ...syringes (?), suppositories (?). Honestly, I have no idea how people get rid of worms.

#1 it is! It might not be much, but I would still feel a little bit like I'd kicked malaria in the crotch. Honestly though, at the end of the day, I think I'd just tip my waitress. It's so much easier and wouldn't generate a bunch of junk mail.




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