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November 2013

Money Alone Won’t Fix the Terrible Decisions

killer martinis

This Holiday Season’s feel good story starts with an extraordinarily well written blog post about poverty and the terrible decisions poor people make. Linda is the sort of writer that makes you pause and reevaluate everything you know to be true. Linda gave us 24 hours of poverty (plus or minus a few years) in 1500 or so beautiful words.

Linda is different than other poor people and Linda is different than rich people. She has insight and wisdom and an awareness of where and why she might be missing common sense. She seems to have a work ethic much stronger than my own and she’s a better writer than 95% of us.

Of course it’s entirely possible that this is a work of fiction (every memoir is part fiction) and she’s just really good at what she does. I have a friend who works with the homeless & when a local young mother tugged at my heart strings I called him and told him that I knew she was lying to me. He told me that they all lie. It’s a means of survival and if I were in their shoes I’d lie too.

Knowing this made me feel better. I bought her diapers even though I knew she was lying to me and I didn’t resent her for it because when a baby needs diapers a baby needs diapers.

Sometimes I give people money and/or opportunities even when I know the money will never help them. It only helps me feel better about myself.

The internet loves to help talented people who are down on their luck. Does anyone remember Ted Williams? He had a golden radio voice and lived by the side of the road? The Internet fell in love with Ted and got him a $10,000 gig which he promptly lost. He’s in and out of rehab, has strained relationships with his family and appears to be gaining traction each year but the reality is that a $10,000 job didn’t help him. Interventions did, many of them. The interventions came because of Ted’s internet (and then mainstream) fame. Ted is a success story insofar as he’s no longer homeless but the barrage of internet love didn’t give him riches or sanity, it gave him an opportunity to seek more help. It opened doors that he still needs to walk through.

Linda has monetized her very moving viral post and started a campaign where anyone can give her money to write a book. It’s no secret that I find these money grabs distasteful at best (and if I were desperate I assure you I’d do distasteful things) and fraudulent at their worst.

I’m not saying that Killer Martinis is an internet hoax/scam/ruse. I am questioning the intelligence of an Internet community who decides that $62,000 ($40 a word) and counting is the appropriate price to tip a stranger for a very well written blog post. I wonder if it will be enough to guide her to the help she needs?

Edit: Reading a little more I’ve decided that I believe about 50% of what she wrote. Lovely fiction. Good fundraising skills though. Maybe she learned that at her private school silent auctions?

Remember the gay server who wasn’t tipped but got thousands form the Internet and promised to donate that to the Wounded Warrior Project? Liar.