Most of you who have read my blog know that I'm not too fond of current politics. With the 2016 presidential elections coming up, everyone is talking about which candidate we can give super powers to so they can fix all of our problems. Yet what most don't seem to understand, is the act of voting someone else into power to fix our problems, leaves us giving away the power to change certain things ourselves.
Since I've learned exactly what political affiliation I identify with(Anarchy, for those of you who don't know), I've had very little opportunity to actually discuss these issues with people who are willing to listen. Mostly because if I start a conversation with "I'm an anarchist", most people tend to discount everything I say after regardless of the truth of it. Before I get into the thick of it, I'd just like to say that the sole purpose of this post is to make people think about how we solve our problems.
Let's start with the cost of politics. In 2012 alone, we spent $2.6B on the presidential campaign alone. That's not including the $3.6B we spent on congressional campaigns on the federal level that year as well. So, think about that. $6.2B dollars just to get you to vote one way or another. Shall we take a look at what $6.2B could do for our country if spent in other areas?
The Salvation Army reports an annual donation impact of $169M, which provides food, shelter, and local programs for communities in poverty. We could fund The Salvation Army, a direct force for good in our communities 36 times over with money spent on political campaigns.
When you consider that homelessness is a huge problem in our country, and it impacts all of us greatly, isn't it easy to try and take a look at how else this money could be used? According to a study conducted by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development, it costs taxpayers approximately $35,000 - $150,000 a year on average for persons living on the streets based on their location. When we implement Housing-First programs in order to reduce the amount of people on the streets, that goes down to a cool $15,000 - $25,000 per person based on location. Think about that. If we crunch out that number, we find that we can house 248,000 people of the projected 611,000 for the amount we spent on political ads alone for the year 2012. If we did this every year, we could nearly wipe out homelessness in America!
I think that's absolutely worth looking into how we look at our politics. That's just the homelessness problem. Considering 1 in 6 people suffer from hunger in the U.S. alone, I think there are other problems we can look at directly to fix if we point our focus at fixing the actual problems, rather than electing people who can fix them for us. It doesn't do us any good to spend hours debating who is going to fix things for us. It really doesn't. Of all the time I've spent working at a bar and hearing pieces of people's conversations, not one of these conversations talks about how the actual programs work or what they'll do.
They just talk about the existence of these programs and why it's right to have them. I know not everyone is good at logistics and planning, but for lump's sake, look how easy it is to donate to any kind of charity!
Worldvision.org is a site that allows you to choose what kind of donation you'd like to make, and what that money will be used for. Their focus is on children, but it's a great platform to help you make a real difference! Endhomlessness.org is a great way to donate to homelessness charities, and you know the money is going directly to people who know how to use it! Charitynavigator.org is another great tool to let you choose what kind of charity you'd like to give to. From homelessness and hunger, to disaster relief and community projects, there's always a way to give directly to people who need it!
In the age of the internet, the political climate has shifted greatly. We're more aware of the world around us, and how our politics effect it. Yet we're still bent on using the government as the means to make things happen, all the while neglecting the thousands of charities available to help you give directly to fixing problems you truly believe in. So this election season, remember that politics aren't the only way to fix problems. And honestly, I think we all know that direct charities are going to use far more of the money they get directly on their cause, rather than a good chunk of it being lost to bureaucracy. Just something to keep in mind!