Empathy Fatigue

The other night, the Mrs. and I were watching the toob and an all-too-familiar commercial started playing,  imploring the viewers to donate “just” a few cents day to help the poor and impoverished in Africa that are starving and have no medical care. 

It was, as I’m sure was intended, a heart wrenching sight.  Anyone with any sense of humanity would feel for these people and want to “help” these less fortunate souls.

But what struck me, was how this commercial in 2022 was almost EXACTLY like the ones all over the airwaves in the 1970s.  And all throughout every decade since.  And those are just what I can personally remember,  they may have started earlier, I just have no personal recollection prior to maybe 1972. Geez, it got so common the South Park guys took a run at it, at least 10 years ago. Anybody remember Starvin’ Marvin from Ethiopia?

So this got me thinking…  We’ve been “helping” the poor and impoverished of that continent for at least 50 years and nothing has improved?  How can this be?

I’m as sure as can be without having actual proof that corruption on the part of the charities and any and all government agencies and/  NGOs is part of the problem, but surely that isn’t the only problem.

And it isn’t just Africa, we’ve seen this same plea for kids in Central and South America and Haiti too.  And yet millions of dollars and thousands of voluneer hours later, all these places are still in squalor, with sick and malnourished people dying on the vine at every turn.

Have we disturbed the natural cycle of things?  Is that why, in spite of decades long attempts to bring a better life to the less fortunate, its as bad or worse than it ever was?

We see similar things roll out here stateside, but more often from the grifting political class than charity organizations, but they do it too.   It’s often for the children,  or that’s how it’s framed anyway.  “We’ve got kids that can’t learn on empty stomachs” so we NEED to raise taxes (or your donation) to provide discounted lunches to the poor.  Then free lunches.  Then free breakfast AND lunch.  Then breakfast, lunch AND after-school care… The government’s solution is ALWAYS to take more from the “haves” to give away to the “underserved”.   And the massive, decades long investment has brought dropping grades, lower graduation rates, and fewer kids ready for the real world. The “solution” to these drastic failures is always more money for more “programs” from the tax payer.    Toward the end of that line we get the sob stories of the debt-burdoned; they’ve amassed six-figure debt to get their Bachelor’s degree in grievance studies, but now nobody will “give” them a job. They can’t pay back their student loans AND pay their lease payments on the new Lexus on a barista’s wages, so it’s back to the government’s trough for “relief” from their bad decisions…  And then they have the gall to shout they’re protesting for “economic justice”?!?

Justice for who?  Certainly not the tax payer bailing you out of a really bad life choice.  I have a crazy, outside the box idea…I think all those people that paid those exorbitant tuitions and wound up with a useless degree and zero employment opportunities should ask the universities for refunds.  After all, they sold a defective product, right?  Many universities have endowments that reach into the BILLIONS of dollars, AND they already get government monies.  If they are graduating students with no marketable skills, why should the taxpayers be further responsible for the costs?  Maybe if the universities had some skin in the game, they would stop with the foolish feel-good degrees and indoctrination and get back to teaching valuable skills.

The last few years the pleas have started to rachet up to help the “unhoused”…  No doubt there are many folks that ended up on the streets due to forces beyond their control, but far more are there only because of the choices they made and continue to make.  In fact, just last weekend we encountered one, walking down the street on a beautiful Sunday afternoon, screaming obscenities and being generally aggressive to everyone in his path.  And since this person clearly has nowhere to go, he will just roam the town, accosting everyone unfortunate enough to be in his path.

And the government’s “solution” to this problem, when anything is done at all, is to build housing units that come in at 6-figures per unit?  Really?  And the home and business owners who are unfortunate enough to be in the crosshairs when tent cities and squalor show up on their doorstep?  Nothing is done for them.  If they try to do something on their own, or <gasp> try to organize amongst themselves without bureaucratic nonsense, they are now the bad guys.  Not the person shooting up in their doorway.  Not the person breaking into their cars to steal anything that will get their next fix…  There is such a weird logic surrounding this stuff… “Your problems are less important than theirs because you have more than them.  So because you are “privileged” to have a roof over your head (note that what YOU have is never earned or deserved,  regardless of how hard you worked to get it!) you have no right to complain about a junkie passed out in your doorstep.”  

That’s a lot of gov’t cheese!

I don’t begin to think I know all the answers, but it seems pretty apparent that what we’re doing now, and for the last several decades, sure isn’t doing the trick.  Things are worse in every metric.


I think I’ve reached maximum  empathy.  Looking out for me and mine is exhausting as it is, and no small amount of elbow grease and sweat equity goes into what little we have.  This is not to say “every man for himself!”, or to even imply that we should no longer help our fellow man.  But let’s face it, your twelve cents a day isn’t going to amount to a hill of beans (figuratively OR literally) for the kids in third-world hell holes.  How about instead, make a sandwich for a hungry person in your city?  Or get involved in a community garden?  Hell, even picking up trash off the road has social benefits. There are a dozen things you can do in your own neighborhood to make your “world” a better place. If everyone concentrated on their own street/town/county and made small improvements individually or with small, self-contained groups, lives would be changed.

The next time your local ballot asks “should we raise taxes/issue bonds/increase fees for…?” the answer should be a resounding NO.  Nobody is more careless with your hard-earned money or accomplishes less with it than your government. Despite ever increasing tax rates, the problems compound annually. This isn’t news, it’s common knowledge. Don’t belive me? Spend 10 minutes here: https://www.openthebooks.com/ and you’ll never look at “government spending” the same. Its beyond outrageous! I’m not sure how Americans came to believe that the answer to all of everybody’s problems is MORE government, more regulation, more taxation. I will never understand this mindset.

And the next time your guilt compells you to call that 1-800 number and bust out your credit card to “help”, ask yourself “how much of somebody else’s 60-cents-a-day was used to film that commercial?”  And how much are they paying to air it?  That airtime, even on cheesy late-night stations isn’t inexpensive. I do believe -100%- that a business can be charitable, but I also believe any business set up as a charity, is suspect at best.

I understand that this post might make me out to be a cold, heartless bastard. And I am, sometimes. But generally speaking, I believe most people, like 90%, are genuinely “good” and Americans overall can be exceptionally giving and generous. Unfortunately that leaves a large pool of suckers to be preyed upon, by tugging at your heartstrings, for the 10% that have no conscience or morals…

I guess what I’m saying is try to be a good person, but be smart about it. Don’t let your kindness be taken advantage of by the unscrupulous.

I’m not trying to be a downer, and I do really try to keep this a positive place here, but this situation has been nagging at me for days now, just had to get it off my chest.

Thanks for reading!

3 thoughts on “Empathy Fatigue”

  1. Starvin Marvin. Ha! I never have cable, so I never really watch South Park, but I did catch that one and loved it. The Christmas Turd is a favorite as well. And lets not forget the one going to the bank, “Aaaaand….it’s gone!”. How many other shows stay as good over so long? Love your rambling-stay with it!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Yeah, I got to the South Park party late ‘cuz we didn’t have cavle TV either, but couldn’t get enough of ’em on VHS back in the day!
      Thanks for reading, I appreciate your taking the time to comment!


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