This is a question we’re asked all the time. There are four parts to the answer.
First, the money goes at least a hundred times further in the developing world. We’ve doubled the calories for each of the 5,000 people in a village in Malawi for $.25 (25 cents) per person per year. We’re feeding Kenyan orphans protein every day for $1.35 per child per year. We couldn’t do those things here for 100 times those amounts.
Second, even if you are the poorest child in this country, you are rich! You get free K-12 education. If you can’t afford the food, the government buys you two good meals a day. If you get hurt, any emergency room in the country will treat you for free. You have pure running water coming out of the faucet, electricity at the flip of a switch, the poop magically disappears from the toilet. FDA standards for food, law and order, highways from here to eternity. All of these things are unimaginable in most of the world.
Third, we have had the luxury to make our choices. We spend $1,622 every year on the average dog in this country. An adult woman spends $855 every year on makeup. Don’t even get us started on alcohol, drugs, prostitution, pornography, gambling, video games, and all the other “karmic undesirables.” And this doesn’t even start to consider the trillions of dollars the government wastes. Can we really begrudge a dollar or two to give one of the poorest people in the world a slightly better chance in life?
Fourth, it actually doesn’t even matter where the money goes, as long as it’s spent ethically and effectively. The thing that matters is where it comes from. We are bigger when we help others and what we’re trying to build is a culture of bigger people, people who act with compassion, and courage. In a culture like that, where we’ve grown beyond the psychology of scarcity, we will find way better solutions to all of our problems.
We are the richest people in the history of the world. Surely our moral vision can be greater than “We’re only going to spend our money on ourselves.” And it’s not even either/or. We can still help people here and “out there.” Even the smallest spending has a huge impact, sometimes unimaginably so, like the examples above. Our motto says it all: “Even the greatest waterfall starts with a single drop of water.” If each of us will be just a little drop, the waterfall will take care of itself and we will be the proud parents of a Better World. That is a legacy worth working for, isn’t it? Thank you for reading.