Happy To Help, Annoyed I Have To


As I typed my credit card number into the Detroit Water and Sewerage Department’s payment form, knowing it would relieve a little bit of stress for someone who’s struggling, I felt my heart swell with an emotion that’s increasingly familiar to me these days. It wasn’t happiness, or love for my fellow man, or even the selfish glow that comes with relatively easy generosity. It was more … what’s the word I’m looking for?

Oh, yes: Resentment. I fully resented paying that water bill.

Spurred by a donation to the glad it exists / sad it has to Detroit Water Project, Kate Harding writes for Dame Magazine about wishing we lived in a world where private charity was unnecessary because everyone was automatically taken care of, because this is America dammit.

What’s more, I resent all of the crowd-funding requests I encounter on social media—to defray friends’ and strangers’ astronomical medical bills, or offer help with rent and food during tough times, or subsidize worthy artistic projects. I’ve ponied up for all of the above, but resented it every time.

You’ll note I didn’t say I resent the people who ask for such help. What I actually resent is the situation we’ve gotten ourselves into, as a nation, where a substantial portion of the voting public and our elected representatives believe that things like running water and health care—let alone arts funding—are luxuries some of us can do without.

How big should our government be? Let’s all decide in the comments.

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Photo via Wikimedia Commons


20 Comments / Post A Comment

I think the question is not strictly how big our government should be, but rather, toward what end should it harness and direct its bigness?

@Josh Michtom@facebook Yes! Like you and @peacheater say, I am all for taxes and “big government”….that fund social services, transit, schools, etc, and not defense contractors.

peacheater (#733)

Yeah I reject this framing of the question as big government vs. small. That plays into the hands of those people who would like to cut social services, while continuing to fund expensive wars and massive defense spending.

WHAT is that emoji?????

Allison (#4,509)

@polka dots vs stripes a radio tower??? probably not

CeeEm (#5,833)

@Allison I was thinking scared eyes at the verge of tears? Idk!

HelloTheFuture (#5,275)

I think the most resent-inducing one is where companies ask you to give your own vacation days so another person can recover from an illness. It’s like the company had all the power to solve this problem at very little cost to them, and they asked you to solve it at a much higher cost to you.

bgprincipessa (#699)

@HelloTheFuture what?!! I haven’t heard of this.

DarlingMagpie (#1,695)

@HelloTheFuture I’m sorry, this is a THING!?

HelloTheFuture (#5,275)

@bgprincipessa @darlingmagpie you haven’t heard of this? It’s called a “vacation donation” policy. If someone needs extra time off, coworkers can donate their vacation days. Because that is the BEST WAY to solve this problem.

joyballz (#2,000)

@HelloTheFuture that is AWFUL.

lemonhead3159 (#6,051)

@HelloTheFuture My former workplace had a similar policy, only people donated unused sick leave! Not quite as terrible as vacation days, since the sick days rolled over and you could save a maximum of 100 sick days. Still, very strange.

joyballz (#2,000)

@lemonhead3159 super strange. It’s not like I can do the job of someone I’m donating my day to. I’m not replacing them for those 8 hours. Bizarre.

bgprincipessa (#699)

@joyballz right! like presumably there still needs to be coverage, so… huh? Terrible.

Allison (#4,509)

@HelloTheFuture from an illness or like say, a pregnancy. Even though my workplace doesn’t cap sick days earned, they do limit the number you can use at six weeks. So after that it’s annual leave, which maxes out at 240 hours for a grand total of 12 weeks of leave if you had all your annual.

But people can donate their use or lose to help you! if they have it/want to/feel like it. Woo hoo.

@bgprincipessa I think it’s done less for coverage reasons and more for balance sheet reasons. Like, companies have a certain amount of hours that go unworked but that they still pay for (leave) on their list of liabilities for the year, and obviously they want to keep people in the office working as much as possible, so leave donation allows companies to control the leave liability and keep the leave-givers working (assuming nothing happens to them, too).

At least, I think that’s why it works that way. I know that’s at least why they cap leave carryover from year to year.

andnowlights (#2,902)

@HelloTheFuture From a logical, accounting standpoint, it makes sense (companies/organizations have to have money in the bank for vacation days, etc) but from an emotional person who just had their PTO cut by 7 days a year, that is total bs. I don’t get to see my family enough as it is.

nell (#4,295)

There’s a firehouse near my office and occasionally there are a couple firefighters out front collecting money for the families of fire fighters who have been killed. I toss in cash when I have it but I definitely resent it. If your dad gets killed in a fire saving people’s lives you should be taken care of, period — nobody should have to be out literally panhandling to pull together cash.

andnowlights (#2,902)

Lately, the “gimme money” thing that has, pardon my french, pissed me off the most is my (non-profit) employer running a donation campaign pressuring us to donate money BACK to them. They under-pay us as it is, frozen pay raises (unless your boss raises hell and even then it’s only 2%), cut our PTO by 7 days a year, cut down other benefits, raised the cost of health insurance and want us to give money back? Not only that, but they spent a TON of money on the marketing campaign for that- I got at LEAST 4 letters in the mail about it (paper + postage to 22,000 employees) and a couple of emails, plus they had a huge custom designed website. It took everything I had to not tell them to shove it.

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