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  1. bfaye
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    bfaye New Member

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    celebrity: for better or for better globally?

    Discussion in 'The Lounge' started by bfaye, Apr 14, 2009.

    I'm interested in how others' feel about this issue...


    Recently, reading the news online has led me toward more interesting topics to write about. Today I came across an article that told the story of Madonna pledging $500,000 to the victims of earthquake in Italy. As I thought about how nice that was of the music legend, I soon realized that living here in the US we are not only going through an economic depression but we have many men, women and children who are and have been suffering for a long time and don’t get the help they need. It’s kind of ironic that our society has become so internationally connected, at the same time we cannot solve the harsh realities citizens in our own country have to deal with every day. While I think it is a great thing to help out those in need, even internationally, I also think there is not enough attention given to those suffering in our own communities. Madonna and other celebrities in general give so much to philanthropic organizations, which I admire, however why ignore those in this country?
    The statistics are clear that there is no apparent change in our recent history that we can proudly say, we’ve made an impact on poverty levels in America. From the US Government Census, “in 2007, the family poverty rate and the number of families in poverty were 9.8 percent and 7.6 million, respectively, both statistically unchanged from 2006.” This number is way more than necessary and the fact that it has remained unchanged from year to year is just disappointed. If America is the wealthiest country in the world, why is all the money going to those who already have PLENTY! I may sound like a “socialist” to some but in reality, if all those who could afford to helped out those stuck under the poverty line, then our country wouldn’t need to deal with “slums” and “rough areas.”
    This issue reminds me of an case study I had to struggle with in my ethics class recently. The case study was about the ethical dilemma of a chronically homeless man, Murray, who keeps getting stuck in the same situation even after a number of people try to help him. After keeping a close eye on Murray and all of his trips to the emergency room and all his costs on the public while living on the street, the local government started a program for the homeless. They decided to take the chronically homeless off the streets and put them into apartments and pay for everything while they assisted in finding the men and women jobs where they could start over. This program turned out to be very successful and surprisingly MUCH cheaper than consistently taking care of the homeless while they’re living out on the streets.
    So when celebrities do generous things like give a $500,000 to victims of a natural disaster in another country, maybe they should think about issues that they could help out with in their own country. There are ways to solve the problems here in America, but we need people to stop becoming overly involved internationally and start to act locally to help their own neighbors in times of need, especially now.
     
  2. Cogito
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    Cogito Former Mod, Retired Supporter Contributor

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    Fair warning: At the slightest sign of this thread becoming inflammatory, it will be shut down, and whoever lights the fire faces an infraqction.

    So lets all play nice.
     
  3. SonnehLee
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    SonnehLee Contributing Member Contributor

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    *hides matches and gasoline and whispers "Sorry" loud enough for everyone to hear*
     
  4. HKB
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    HKB Contributing Member

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    I think people's ideas about America override the facts about people's lives in America and that there are starving, homeless people here. There's also the idea that if you're in America you should be able to not be poor, and if you are it's probably your fault. Same reason people give more to animal abuse shelters than to woman's shelter's; the notion that animals are more defenseless than a battered woman, there's the idea that some people have chosen their victimization. An earthquake is a random act that I don't think anyone can pretend is related to any person's actions (unless you evoke a deity who is doling out punishments).
    Personally, I think being wealthy is horribly unethical. Just on a gut level, how can you not feel sick to your stomach over everyone else's suffering when you have so much? But I guess the wealthy don't get that feeling, which is why they are wealthy and I will never be. I get that feeling, and I can't even afford a car, or health insurance, or new clothes, and I have had to steal food before. I am still better off than most.
     
  5. lordofhats
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    lordofhats Contributing Member

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    I do sometimes wonder. I mean, people should be able to make lots of money based on the blood and sweat of their brow, but does anyone really need 60 billion dollars? *Bill Gates* cough cough. Then there's sports stars who work maybe a few months out of the year and then make millions. Movie stars too. I mean, I get that you're a celebrity and need money for security and such to protect you from rabid fans, pay for your agent, and buy the formal wear for various events you're expected to attend but... I'm pretty sure earning 100 million in a year seems like more than is necessary. I suppose if I started a business that eventually became worth billions I'd want to reap the benefits of all my hard work, but I can't imagine I'd actually need all of those billions XD. I'd probably be dropping checks in charities left and right and putting up a money bin for my employees from my own pocket just so I have room in my moderately sized house to move around XD. EDIT: Yeah I've thought about it and I'm sure. I have no idea what i'd do with 1 million dollars, let alone a billion XD. I'm a simple guy. Give me cable, food, a computer, and video games and I'm content with life XD.

    I also agree about the American poor thing. I'm no believer in forced welfare of any kind, but why when charities are organized does more money go to people on the other side of the planet when we have people here in our own backyard who could use it just as much?
     
  6. marina
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    marina Contributing Member Contributor

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    I'm trying to see the connection between the homeless guy and Madonna's charitable giving. It sounds like the city where the homeless guy lives needs to change their policies if for no other reason than the savings in giving him housing versus paying for his in/out of the emergency room.

    As for Madonna, I read that she gave this money only after the mayor from the town where her grandmother had lived made a special plea to her. So obviously she was giving it for this international crisis because of her love/memories of her grandmother, which I think is sweet ("sweet" in general, because I'm not a fan of Madonna at all).

    I really don't get too upset with how celebrities choose to spend their money. I guess giving it for international aid is far better than spending it on something totally frivolous. What people really need to be energized about is how (in)effectively the U.S. government is spending billions and billions of dollars on corporate bailouts.
     
  7. Acglaphotis
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    Acglaphotis Contributing Member

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    Apathy.
     
  8. bfaye
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    bfaye New Member

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    If this is true and she did give it to her grandmother's hometown, it is understandable. However, I still have an ethical dilemma with the fact that those celebrities who live in America and have roots in America are not supporting or lobbying for those who are suffering here. I mean there are celebrities from all over the world... do you think they can take care of the problems in their own nations?

    I don't have anything against international aid, in fact I think it is completely necessary but I also have an issue with the fact that poverty in the US hasn't statistically moved in a few years. It's ironic and sad.
     
  9. Henry The Purple
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    Henry The Purple Active Member

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    People can do what they wish with their money imo. It's their life, not mine. It's nice that people like Madonna and Oprah are splashing cash where it is most needed, but at the same time, I think its more productive to look at how we live our own lives. Charity begins at home, and with the self. Celebrities are just people too. Madonna forking out 500K to charity can be just as meaningful as a financially struggling man sparing a bit of cash for the charity box.
     
  10. Addicted2aa
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    Addicted2aa Senior Member

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    Thoughts on Madonna before I begin my rant. Why should she spend it here as opposed to Italy? I think a better question is why give money only in times of need. It's often too late then and the money might not actually do anything. The city will spend the money it has on supplies and if they can't get enough, the charity money most likely won't be processed in time to be useful. The city will end up using it months down the road to build new roads and parks. If those things are wanted, then donate before hand.

    So I'm a little tired. If anything I say comes across as harsh, I apologize. I'm not trying to insult anyone or any ideal.

    Right, first of all, homeless in America beats working in Kenya almost any day of the week. Shelter is fairly easy to come by,(not buildings, but boxes, bridges and broken tents) food is plentiful,(dumpster diving is quite safe) and people give you money. This isn't always the case, but in general homeless people get by. Not well by any means, but they aren't worrying about making through the next day unless they live in the north and it's winter. But most bums, at least in my town, find real shelter when the snow starts to fly. Compare that to warlords, jobs that pay pennies a day, and mass starvation.
    If we're talking about which people need help more, it's clearly them. Sure we haven't taken care of all the problems here, but just because I haven't washed my dishes doesn't mean I shouldn't volunteer at the soup kitchen. If you get my meaning.

    Second, poverty in general. I'm no expert in economics, but from what I've read, their will always be a poor class. There will always be skills that are in less demand and will therefore only pull in a small amount of money. The best thing to do is to raise the overall quality of living. The poor then will still be poor compared to the rich, but compared to the middle ages, they are kings. One way of raising the quality of living is making the rich richer. They will always buy the best, newest things. Then when better, newer things come out, they will get those, and those other good, not quite so new things, will go to the slightly less rich, until people who can barely afford their rent can afford DSL internet and high def tv's. We aren't quite there yet. Another few years.



    That post is stuffed full of win.


    one note on the concept of wealthy. Wealthy is a very relative term. For instance, most of my friends would consider my parents wealthy. They on the other hand, think they are merely doing alright. If things go down the tubes, like they are, my parents will still have some money to fall back on. They will be able to afford a house and live out their retirement without too much worry. The house we live in fits us, but we don't think it's large. In fact we need more space for storage. My friends think I live in a mansion.

    I know many people will say a billion, even a million, dollars is too much money for one family. But when you actually have that much money things change. You can actually take trips to every in the world you might have wanted to visit. You can afford the top equipment for whatever hobbies you have. You will be able to see shows that were too expensive before. High priced liquor is no longer too extravagant. Every book you could ever want you can buy. You can take on whatever personal projects and dreams you may have had. You can send your kids to college. You can send your brothers kids to college. Some will be set away for retirement.

    None of those things(besides the college, maybe) are noble. Yet they are all worthwhile pursuits that lead to a full and engaging life. Yes a person could spend all the money trying to help poor people and still live a great life. Unfortunately that money will most likely end up doing nothing. Most aid money to Africa gets stolen. Money spent on cancer research only might be useful. The answer could just as likely come from some accident some undergrad student makes in bio 101. To make your money count you need to invest exclusively in one charity and devote time and effort as well. In the end living the life you want to live might just be a better investment.
     
  11. Neha
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    Neha Beyond Infinity. Contributor

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    I'll just say one thing:

    Charity begins at home.
     
  12. inkslinger
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    inkslinger Contributing Member

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    Madonna dished out a large sum of cash to help people in need. What's the problem? Even if it's not someone in America, she's still helping someone. And as pointed out, it was after the mayor of the town her grandma used to reside in, asked for help. I think it's lovely of her to do so.

    Also, if I were wealthy, I wouldn't feel bad about it. I don't see how it's "unethical" at all. If I worked hard for my money, why should I feel awful about it? I personally would help out in charities or causes that interested me or tugged most at my heart strings. Hell, I help out now and I'm not rich. But if I were, I wouldn't feel bad at all that I was more fortunate than others.... I'd be grateful/thankful that I was and do stuff to help out.
     
  13. marina
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    marina Contributing Member Contributor

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    Someone mentioned Bill Gates' wealth. Well, he is probably one of the world's greatest philanthropists. I believe he's given about $30 billion to his foundation.

    Here is the letter he & his wife have posted on their Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation website. It explains why they started their foundation. It's very inspiring:

     
  14. pacmansays
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    pacmansays Senior Member

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    A lot of celebrities will donate to charity for a good public image (not all though). I think a celebrity being a spokesperson for a cause is great, but the problem is a lot of celebrities want to be the cause.

    I mean Madonna trying to adopt an African child has done terrible damage in Africa, a lot of parents leaving their children in orphanages so they might too be adopted into a better family.
     
  15. lordofhats
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    lordofhats Contributing Member

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    Donating to charity also supposedly saves the wealthy money, because they get tax deductions for the money they give away. I don't know it it actually does save them money I've never been interested enough to look it up XD.
     
  16. Cogito
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    Cogito Former Mod, Retired Supporter Contributor

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    I reject the notion that being wealthy is evil or immoral. I believe that hard work and ingenuity should be rewarded, not condmned, as long as the means by which the wealth is acquired is honest.

    If someone who has that kind of wealth decides to do some good with that money, why show them contempt for doing so?

    Envy is an ugly emotion.
     
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  17. HKB
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    HKB Contributing Member

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    Because I don't believe anyone deserves, say, a lamborghini, when others are literally dying from poverty. No degree of "hard work" should earn anyone the right to hoard resources like that and trump everyone else. Besides, the wealthy hardly work.
     
  18. A.J.Crowley
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    A.J.Crowley Senior Member

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    My sentiments exactly.

    But, as much as I like it to be the case, let’s face it a handful of voluntary aid organizations may do a little but their never going to fix the problem. A huge amount of action is needed, from every government on the planet, and it’s never going to come.

    Back to the topic of celebrity wealth, if you’re like Bill Gates and actually earn it that’s fine, good for you, but if you’re someone like Paris Hilton who is only rich because Daddywaddy and Mummywummykins are very rich (and even they inherited it) and don’t have to do anything to earn it. I think we can all agree that’s unfair.
     
  19. Neha
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    Neha Beyond Infinity. Contributor

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    Right, nothing at you HKB, of course, but let's not blame the wealthy for taking pleasure in their materialistic stuff. It's their money and theirs as to what to do with is. Just because someone has a Lamborgini or Mercedes does not mean that they're not generous of heart. You know leaving aside the obvious worst levels of poverty-stricken people--you'd be surprised to know how many of the lower classes are struggling to survive because the "so-called-officers of the public" think that they can be played about if they're poor. So what's the difference if my father uses his contacts to save the stall of the vendor whose got no other means of livelihood, or if he sells off our cars and then pays that very vendor? The first way the vendor will just be grateful, the latter way will make him feel in debt for life.

    So there's nothing wrong with enjoying wealth as long as it doesn't adversely affect others. Buy Porsches for what anyone cares but as long as one does their one(or many) good deed/s every day.
     
  20. madhoca
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    madhoca Contributing Member Contributor

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    I thought it was good, personally, that Madonna hasn't forgotten her Italian roots. I wish more millionaires would remember their original homelands.
    The thing with very wealthy people is that they always know people who are even richer to measure themselves against. Wealth is relative, how many people say 'ok enough I'll stop making money now'? Not many.
    Rich people would also become insane if they tried helping out every begger in the street or tragic case they heard about, so IMO the best thing they can do is: continue generating wealth while bringing their kids up to know that money is earnt, not given; and use their money well to help less fortunate people (anywhere they think they can make a difference) by funding trusts, charities etc. And many super rich manage to make a real difference this way--after all, they often started with little themselves and worked very hard.
     
  21. Kursal
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    Kursal Senior Member

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    Poverty and homelessness in countries like the UK and USA need to be addressed by the governments of those countries. Personally, I blame the politicians. All to many times it seams as if they are lining their own pockets and ignoring those who actually need help to further the needs of big businesses and 'the city'. This is as true in the developed world as it appears to be in the developing.

    If someone like Madonna wants to give her money to help people then she should be allowed to and not be targeted for giving to the wrong thing. It is her money to do with as she chooses. It is not the responsibility of Madonna to look after the world. It is the responsibility of those we choose to give power to.
     
  22. Neha
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    Neha Beyond Infinity. Contributor

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    Point. Maybe if some of the politicians actually came true on the "promises" they'd made when they were asking for votes instead of playing dirty with each others' campaigns, the world would be a better place. Though exceptions are there....but, we all need to work together.
     
  23. hiddennovelist
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    hiddennovelist Contributing Member Contributor

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    I think this is a very good point. Celebrities aren't the only people who can donate money to charities or try to improve things in America, and we shouldn't sit around waiting for someone like Madonna to decide to donate thousands of dollars to some suffering city in the US. God knows, I don't have a lot of money, but I try to donate at least a little bit to different charities when I can. I think if everyone looked at their finances and found a way to donate something if they could afford it, then things would improve without a donation from someone famous.
     
  24. NaCl
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    NaCl Contributing Member Contributor

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    I'm sorry, but this whole thread fails to recognize the real problem with poverty. When are people going to be held accountable for their own actions? The solution to poverty is not handouts from the "rich" or from government charity. In fact, those forms of welfare CAUSE poverty! There is nothing sadder than the generational poverty BUILT on the foundation of welfare payments in the U.S.A. People who have been programmed to expect handouts, rather than to get more education or learn a valuable craft.

    Welfare is simply another form of addiction. Only, in this case, the "opiate" is food stamps (that can be sold for cash so the recipient can afford cigarettes). And, like all addictions, the sufferer cannot "see" any other lifestyle. In fact, change is threatening. So, what is the "solution" for poverty? Empowerment, not entitlement. The only way to break the cycle of poverty-inducing financial addiction to handouts is to take them away. Cut off the dollar-drugs. No different than breaking an opiate addiction. When poor people get sufficiently hungry, and have nowhere to turn but themselves, then they will be open to constructive alternatives.

    Lest you point out that the children will suffer under this arrangement, I believe those children are already being abused . . . by the very system that claims to assist them. Generational welfare is learned at an early age. Young children in slums learn to game the system before they reach 10 years old. Those kids need to embrace a different value system; one that provides a love for education, a respect for the vocational crafts, and most of all, an environment that teaches them to be self-sufficient instead of dependent. I would shift all the "welfare payments" into the schools. Children would enjoy a nice breakfast every morning when they arrived at school. Teachers would watch for kids with "indicators" of abuse from home and authorities would act swiftly to protect kids from neighborhood or home abuse. Kids would remain at school until 5 or 6 each day and only go home after eating a full and healthy dinner. The school nurse would go to the home of any child who did not show up at school to offer medical assistance for the ill child. If she/he discovered that the child is completely healthy and the parent(s) are irresponsible for not making the child go to school, then the child would be removed from the home and placed in foster care. The point of this child-centered, education focused "welfare" program would be to break the cycle of poverty by empowering the next generation. While the parents would suffer, the kids would be well fed, given medical care, learn to socialize in a safe and productive environment and by the time they graduate from high school, they would already be looking for homes outside the slums . . . hopefully in a college dorm!

    As far as the parents who have their welfare payments cut off...they have three choices: 1) join their kids in "school" -- their adult school being a vocational training program to help them get out of the jungle. As long as they attend the vocational program and make regular progress toward learning a valuable skill, then they would continue to receive a welfare check. However, the vocational school would last no longer than 1 year so they know that they will be gainfully employed or on the street at the end of that year. 2) They can turn to crime for income. They can also end up in jail for so doing, but that is a choice that some will make. Too bad. 3) They can move to New York or Massachusetts where they can get back on generational welfare! LOL

    In summary, poor people don't need charity. They need empowerment.
     
  25. HKB
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    HKB Contributing Member

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    This assumes that someone has done something wrong in order to be in poverty or that they deserve some additional punishment for being poor? The problem with poverty is that people experience it!
    Foodstamps are great. I've had them on and off for a few years when I qualify. My child and I deserve to eat. You cannot sell Foodstamps for anything, at least where I live, because the balance is on a credit card thing in your name.
    What exactly do you mean by "empowerment"? How would one be empowered by not having any food?
    Poverty is inherent to capitalism.
     
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