Over the Christmas holidays I saw a commercial on TV that I thought was absolutely shameless.
It showed a bald-headed young girl in a hospital bed on the sidewalk of a busy city street pleading to those walking by to make a contribution for Hodgkin’s Disease research, only to see all of them walk right on by without a glance, ignoring both her and her pleas.
The message – complete with its triple helping of guilt – was that Hodgkin’s Disease needs more money for research. I don’t doubt that it does; but then again, who doesn’t “need” more money? I have yet to see any business, organization, government, non-profit, or charity hold up their hands and say, “Okay, you can stop now. We’ve got all we need.”
How many non-profit organizations exist today whose stated purpose is to “find a cure” for whatever medical condition they represent? I have no idea, but there’s a bunch, and many of them have been around for a long, long time.
Pick your condition – cancer, heart disease, multiple sclerosis, cerebral palsy, AIDS, etc.; Have you ever thought about how much money the organizations “fighting” these conditions collectively rake in every year? Year after year? Decade after decade?
And yet, for all of the money pumped into them, can you name one that has actually come up with a cure for anything? Just one?
The short answer is that none of them have, and the reason why is exactly the same reason why GE will never sell a lightbulb that won’t burn out and Duracell will never invent a battery that actually lasts a really long time, because if they ever do, we won’t need them anymore.
Don’t get me wrong; I’m not saying that these organizations don’t do anything to help – they do – but finding cures is not one of them. If you’re looking for a cure for cancer, for instance, don’t look to the American Cancer Society to find one. What possible reason could the ACS have for finding a cure for cancer?
The ACS has over 3,400 offices nationwide, thousands of employees making a nice living, and tens of millions of dollars pouring in each & every year. It’s a pretty cool business model as business models go, but it does have one tiny little flaw: If a cure for cancer is ever found, the ACS goes away.
Make no mistake, the ACS is in it for the long haul – 96 years and counting; an organization doesn’t advertise “careers” on their website unless they honestly believe you’ll have plenty of time to have one. Finding a cure for cancer isn’t even one of ACS’s corporate goals. Why would it be? It would put them out of business.
So am I saying that you shouldn’t give money to the ACS and organizations like them? Absolutely not. Just don’t be under the misconception that your donation will actually help find a cure, because it won’t, no matter how much guilt is thrown your way.
Upton Sinclair is credited with stating, “It is difficult to get a man to understand something when his job depends on not understanding it.”
I would suggest that with the tweaking of only a few words, Sinclair’s statement could describe every medical non-profit organization in the world: “It is difficult to get an organization to find a cure for something when their very existence depends on not having one.”
If that makes me a cynic, so be it.