Altruism for sale

Have you noticed the new trend: “altruism for sale”? Yes, we are now we are selling out altruism to the corporations! Helping others, making a difference, the most crucial aspect in our feeling of fulfilment is being sold out. Altruism, so precious for our well being, has lately been suffering a crisis just as big, if not bigger, than our economy. We lose altruism, here comes 1984! Buy a certain Gucci bag and 25% of the retail price will go to UNICEF (for the trick, check out the small letters: only if you buy it between 16 November and 31 December). Kate Spade’s new collection is featuring those cute mittens and hats, all hand-made by women in Bosina. Those women get $7 pro piece, which is, according to Spade, double of what they normal wages. Oh how nice! The small letters say: It is a day’s work to knit such a hat. Its retail price is $85. Is it great help, is it fair, should we really be proud to make people earn $7 a day, only 500km from here? How about teaching them to fish instead of giving them a (small) fish? Roberto Coin, jewellery designer is helping CARE. A percentage of every package of Pampers goes to some charity (sorry, no details, am not into diapers). If you subscribe to The Economist, they will plant a tree for you. And you can even watch your tree online….

The trick is new: they are trying to make us feel better about spending money on unnecessary, overpriced stuff and keep the vicious circle of consumerism alive by promising that our action will benefit someone. Instant clearance of consciousness. Instant great feeling. Of course, the ones that benefit the most are the corporations. Rich getting richer. The effect is sad: we are deep into learning to hand over our responsibilities, decisions, even feelings, to the corporations. We only need to consume and everything else will be taken care of. This distances us even further from the actual problem. We don’t need to understand what is going on, and why. We don’t have to consciously decide to help someone, we don’t have to chose whom and why. Gucci/Economist/Spade will take care of that. And nothing changes. Gucci keeps on making millions, we keep on slaving to afford a Gucci bag and women in Bosnia keep on living in poverty. But hey, now we feel good about it! Thank you Gucci/Economist/Spade/Pampers.