Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Anyone else game?

One of our group, Steve Barney, was so convinced and moved by our last book that he has taken Peter Singer up on his invitation to do something concrete to help create a "culture of giving."  Below is his pledge to give more to save lives, at some cost to his own enjoyment.  And he has invited us to ask from time to time how he's doing!  Thank you, Steve, for giving us an example.

I PLEDGE . . . that I will make a matching donation, approximately equal to the amount that I spend on nonessential luxury items over the remainder of this year, to an organization, or organizations, helping people throughout the world who live in extreme poverty by giving it to GiveWell ( for the sole purpose of re-granting it to some of their top charities, according to their next round of charity evaluation research, without using any of it for their own operating expenses.

Steve Barney
Oshkosh, WI
June 23, 2012

PS: By making this pledge public, I hope that I am, in my own small way, "creating a culture of giving" (title of chapter 5):

"The most important reason for pledging is that by doing so you help to change the culture of giving."...
--The Life You Can Save --

This is my self-imposed luxury or consumption tax, similar to one described in Singer’s book:

"Israel Shenker, founder and CEO of the Philadelphia-based real estate firm ISS Development, is happy to tell others about his standard. He matches everything he spends on discretionary items—vacations, a luxury car, a larger house than he needs—with a charitable donation of the same amount." ...
"Shenker’s standard is a self-imposed consumption tax—if you spend extravagantly, you will also be giving substantially. But much will depend on how strictly the category of "discretionary item" is interpreted: Remember that bottle of water. On the other hand, a consumption-related standard allows those who are reinvesting their income productively to live modestly and continue to do so. The very rich, though, should go beyond merely matching their philanthropy to their consumption."...  (The Life You Can Save, p. 160-161)

1 comment:

  1. I have determined that, since I made this pledge (see above), my luxury spending (mainly restaurant and coffee shop food and drink) has averaged out to about $1.25/day. So today, in keeping with that pledge, I donated $456.25 ($1.25/day x 365 days = $456.25) to GiveWell, via this webpage, with the stipulation that 100% of it will be regranted to its top 3 charities:

    Donate to GiveWell

    $1.25/day is a very striking figure, because, as you may recall if you read Singer's book (_The Life You Can Save: Acting Now to End World Poverty_), that happens to be the World Bank's extreme or absolute world poverty line below which about 1/5 of the world's population struggles to live. These links will take you to some of the book's key passages on that:

    Google Books search
    keyword: "The World Bank defines extreme poverty as"
    in: _The Life You Can Save_ by Peter Singer

    Google Books search
    keyword: "$1.25"
    in: _The Life You Can Save_ by Peter Singer$1.25&f=false

    Please help me end absolute poverty once and for all.