Letters: Consider what charities to support

Comments on the Kwan trip controversy, hypocrisy and poverty

A line in Tom Fletcher’s recent column on NDP leadership selection and the profligacy of executives of the Portland Hotel Society (PHS) charity in Vancouver highlights to me the hypocrisy of activists, non-governmental organizations, and governments who claim to be helping the poor and saving the planet.

Fletcher points out that Kwan attended a poverty conference in a very nice hotel in England. Conferences in general seem to be an excuse for the expense account crowd to live high.

If employees of a company are overspending, its owners suffer the financial effect of the inefficiency. (If people stay in a lower priced hotel they miss the best knowledge gained from interacting with other attendees.) NGOs get an inflated idea of their role – for example, the Canadian Diabetes Association spends on heart disease when there is a separate organization working on that, and the West Shore Chamber of Commerce overspent on things like a glossy magazine.

But for people supposedly helping to reduce poverty their choices of hotel are hypocritical. For governments, the unnecessary cost comes out of the taxpayers’ pockets. For organizations like the PHS the cost reduces services to those the organization exists to help, as donations and government contribution are not very elastic. People, like Kwan, should object to organizations who choose expensive venues and boycott unresponsive ones.

And in the climate alarmist field hypocrisy is widespread. Al Gore, for example, has two houses that consume a great deal of energy, and he spews carbon dioxide from jetting around the world to urge other people to go without the benefits to life of fossil fuels. Locally, David Suzuki has two houses, each on expensive real estate – gosh, he’s just like some of the capitalist CEOs he blames for ruining the climate.

My impression is that the PHS is still worth supporting, having many dedicated people in a tough environment and now a change of management.

But voters and contributors to charities should always be vigilant about who they are supporting. There is a false assumption that collectivist entities like governments, political parties, and NGOS are competent and honest. That comes from a lack of understanding that people are individuals of varying content of character and a collective efforts can actually make things worse, reinforced by the Marxist presumption that enterprises are dishonest.

Keith Sketchley

Saanich

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