I would like to start this week's blathering sermon, which will be on the farcical length to which so-called "Cause Marketing" is currently in use, by sharing a speech by Slovenian philosopher Slavoj Zizek. He begins: "charity is no longer just an idiosyncrasy of some good guys here and there, but the basic constituent of our economy."
What does he mean by this?
He means that "the tendency is to bring [consumption and charity] together in one-and-the-same gesture, so that when you buy something, your 'anti-consumerist duty' to do something for others, for the environment and so on, is already included into it."
Walk into any Starbucks coffee and you will see how they explicitly tell you, and I quote their campaign: "it's not just what you are buying, it's what you are buying into.'
This form of marketing has been around for a few decades or so but has recently reached its zenith, and by now is expected for just about every minor purchase we make (for major purchase like TVs, houses, etc., people are already spending a lot of money and are looking for the lowest cost-to-value ratio possible, charity be-damned). It's fully-integrated into a huge variety of consumer lines, whether it's cereal or beer or shoes or salsa. I thought I'd seen it all, dramatic pause: until now.
Meet Collections With Causes, a debt collection agency who will take your unpaid accounts, collect them for you, and donate the proceeds to charity.
Skin-deep it seems a benevolent and clever endeavor. Muscle-deep is looks like an enterprising way for creditors to exploit the charitable-giving tax write-off (which will get them a bigger tax break than merely writing off the debt as a loss) by forcing people who are short on money to give to charity but keeping the tax deduction for themselves.
The ostensibly altruistic aim of Collections With Causes is a laughably bad smokescreen. By extracting money from people who are (judging by their unpaid debts) short on cash, Collections With Causes leaves in its wake people now more likely to need to turn to charity for survival. And then it donates that money to charity. This is Robin Hood giving money to the poor that he stole from a different group of poor people in order to create a tax loophole for a group of money lenders. Nifty.
Just in case there was any doubt of the nefarious purpose hidden beneath Collections With Causes' "charitable" sheep's clothing, here are a few select quotes from its website:
Next to being shot at and missed, nothing is really quite as satisfying as an income tax refund.
...Then as farce.
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