Saturday, May 30, 2015

Apple resists making charitable donations on the iPhone convenient, maybe for good reasons

 Ron Lieber has an interesting piece Saturday in “Business Day: Your Money”, “Moved to give but slowed by the Phone”, online titled “One tap giving: extra steps mire online donations”, link here.  This sounds like an issue that would get the attention of Michelle Singletary, but I don’t recall a piece on this from her yet. 
Apple’s policy is, if you want to collect donations through the iPhone, you have to use text message and then Safari.  It’s a clumsy process on a phone compared to a normal PC or MacBook, or even maybe a larger iPad.  Droid is said to be easier. 
Lieber says that Apple would not explain this policy to him, but it seems to have to do with two main things:  protecting consumer privacy, and not wanting to play umpire with which orgs are most worthy or having to police them. 
I do my charitable giving monthly through a more automated process set up with a bank (Wells Fargo).  But that is partly the result of circumstances surrounding my estate.  I don’t respond to individual appeals often, although I did for Nepal because Facebook agreed to match.  I do change the recipient amounts as needs increase after disasters – as usually, in my estimation, the Red Cross or secular children’s charities can make the best use of the money. 
I do get a bit turned off by the idea of “Go Fund Me” (or campaigns like Ice Bucket) and begging after bad luck.  (I talked about this yesterday in another context.) Shouldn’t people have (flood) insurance or be more careful or make better choices?  At the same time, the level of risk that most Americans are exposed to is increasing, partly because of political and social instability associated with inequality (leading to crime or outright conflict or “expropriation”), possibly because of aggressive US foreign policy (that is really debatable), and likely because of climate change, already.  There is drought, fire, and flooding, and it is likely our “collective” behavior is increasing these perils.  Some things, like earthquakes ("San Andreas") and volcanic eruptions, we can’t prevent.  We can turn even more attention to building disaster-resistant homes. There are construction techniques (still expensive, but they could be automated more to make them more affordable) to make homes resistant to high-end hurricanes and tornadoes.  Right now, the reality is that anyone could become homeless or wind up with the “shame” of living in a shelter.
Still, it’s very hard to say that one charity, or party or person, is more “deserving” than another, when an appeal is made.
Even libertarian-oriented writers (like Charles Murray and Jonarthan Rauch) have recently written that we have carried the hyper-individualistic idea of self-sufficiency too far, to schizoid levels.  We have some competing social cultures that live in different worlds as to the role of the individual vs. the extended family and community. “Lotsa Helping Hands” doesn’t seem to apply to everyone.

Picture: Bat St, Louis, MS, my picture, 2006.   

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