DailyAfirmation (dailyafirmation) wrote,

Unwitnessing, transcribing, a tragedy, and a toast and dancing...

I got up at 10:00, and ran into Irene on the steps as I tried to run across the hall to the bathroom without being seen before showering.

She'd been a doll, and had driven all over Jacksonville looking for a bagel place. She ended up at Drunkin' Donuts, and nabbed an assortment of the bread holes, with a tub of cream cheese. Oh, yeah, and a tall cup-a-joe. Life is good. As are good friends.

We picked apart a podcast (while not picking pickled peppers) that I'd listened to on the drive down, enjoying — I was going to say some intellectual masturbation — but since it was between two of us, I guess technically, it was intellectual intercourse.

Charity Is Selfish

The economic case against philanthropy.

Listen to the MP3 audio version of this story here, or sign up for Slate's free daily podcast on iTunes.

Selfishness is one of those issues where economists seem to see the world differently. It's not that economists are incapable of imagining—or even modeling—altruism. They can, but they usually don't. And there's a good reason for that: People aren't selfless.

The Johns Hopkins Comparative Nonprofit Sector Project estimates that charitable giving in the United States was 1.85 percent of the size of the economy in recent years, 0.84 percent in the United Kingdom, and as little as 0.13 percent in Germany. By this reckoning, then, the Germans are 99.87 percent selfish, and even the Americans are more than 98 percent selfish. That's not 100 percent, but it's pretty close.

Admittedly, if you include the time spent volunteering, you can get selfishness rates as low as 95 percent: Step forward, the Dutch. That's still not impressive. It's also an underestimate of selfish motivations. If people really were altruistic, there would be much less volunteering.

Maria spent her time today communing with Juanita, a life-long friend of the family, whom I was honored to have a chance to meet. She is an 82-ish year old, African American friend of the family, and would certainly have been an interesting candidate for some dialectical study for this worst-I've-ever-taken-in-my-entire-schooling-career class.

She has an enormous amount of faith and has certainly been "blessed" by good health and longevity. At one point in the morning she and Maria were "witnessing." I did not personally witness the witnessing, nor did I want to.

I left Jacksonville at about 1:30 and arrived home at 3:30, and started right away into my transcription of JD (an 11 year old African American), KAH (her mother, half African American, half Native American), and her brother MD (a 13 year old African American), all from Warren County in 1996.

Tedious! Not the people, the transcribing.

Robert arrived between 6 and 6:30, and then left again shortly thereafter to go check on his friend, Stephenie, who hasn't returned his voice mail message to the point of it being long enough that it was worrying him.

He'd stopped by her place on the way to mine, and noticed the kitchen exhaust vent running, and flies around it. Not good.

He called me later to confirm the worst possible news — she was dead, and evidently had been for an undetermined amount of time. Awful. Just awful.

He stayed long enough to fill out a police report, and we went dancing. I bought him a shot, and he toasted, as is his tradition, another lost friend.

Steve, Stephen, Ben and Dale were out, stopping in after dinner downtown. Joe ended up staying in tonight.

We stayed at Flex for about an hour or so after dancing stopped, and then went to CCs for a while.

Once home, we relished setting the clocks back an hour to garner an extra hour's sleep.


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