We take up the task eternal

Nineteen in New Orleans. Sculpture major and future homesteader. Lover of boxing, grappling, bears, music, art, literature, philosophy and nature.
Wednesday, April 23
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As admirably altruistic as it sounds, the problem with voluntourism is its singular focus on the volunteer’s quest for experience, as opposed to the recipient community’s actual needs.

Opinion: The white tourist’s burden: Growing Western demand for altruistic vacations is feeding the white-savior industrial complex (via aljazeeraamerica)

[…]

A lot of these voluntourists have no idea what they’re throwing money at, that’s the point I’m trying to make. 

I’m not saying not to build schools ever. I’m saying that when approached the wrong way, these sorts of projects can be more damaging than helpful.

This article goes over some of the things I’ve mentioned, though it is by no means exhaustive or particularly academic.

http://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2010/nov/14/orphans-cambodia-aids-holidays-madonna

I’m not saying that all voluntourism is bad. I don’t think anyone is saying that. I’m just saying that in some cases, it can be harmful. It is enough of an issue that it should be addressed. 

(via indecisivenoise)

Can you find me a source for voluntourists unwittingly supporting an oppressive regime?

The kids make money through these orphan systems. They’d be better off in school, yeah, but in my book, hugging tourists beats working in fields and factories for less. The buying of children is, of course, morally reprehensible, as are any orphanages that may be purposefully kept squalid (the article itself doesn’t seem to sure of that), and these things need to come to a stop. But if the parents are willing to rent out their kids to orphanages, I doubt they’d have any qualms about renting them out to businesses, farms or brothels. Orphanages are more profitable, and therefore more attractive, than these more harmful alternatives.

I would argue that, in general, it is still good for these countries. Wasteful, yes, but seldom harmful. Take, for example, this village in Kenya. The village built a school which they considered sufficient. Then a voluntourism group came through and built a second, bigger, nicer school right fucking next to the first one for some completely inexplicable reason. The money should’ve been spent on something else, since they already had a school, but they built a second school instead. That’s a real lost opportunity and an absurd waste, but the villagers still use both buildings -  they use the second building as a school, since it is superior to the one they built, and they use the first building for storage. In the end, the villager did profit from the voluntourists’ visit: they gained a better school (which they are not yet able to utilize to its full potential; but as the village grows, the necessary resources will become available) and a general-use structure. 

I’m not saying that voluntourism is never harmful, but it doesn’t deserve nearly as much shit as it gets. The nearly-universal message from these kind of posts is that voluntourism needs to be stopped. They’re improving things. Let’s not condemn them for it.


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As admirably altruistic as it sounds, the problem with voluntourism is its singular focus on the volunteer’s quest for experience, as opposed to the recipient community’s actual needs.

Opinion: The white tourist’s burden: Growing Western demand for altruistic vacations is feeding the white-savior industrial complex (via aljazeeraamerica)

[…]

If someone sends you a $3000 gift card, and fails to ensure that it is used by you, and it instead gets used by corrupt authorities to contribute to their own lifestyle, or to continue solidifying their power, is anyone really better off? Because I think in that situation, harm has been done. This doesn’t happen every time, but people also don’t necessarily bother to check that this isn’t happening. Or consider that giving someone $3000 might cause others to become jealous in a community with scarce resources, and that $3000 might get some people hurt or killed.

So you built a school. Do you stay and manage it? Who manages it? Who owns it? Who staffs it? Do you continue to provide funds for running it? If you don’t, then who does. You built this nice school, and who gets to use it? It’s impossible for everyone to be able to use it, and in a lot of cases this will act to create tensions in a community where there wasn’t before. Even if there are already problems that divide a community, increasing these divisive problems helps no one. 

I never said I didn’t want to fund orphanages, I have a problem with orphanages being turned into zoos where people can go and hug “orphans” who alarmingly often still have at least one parent, just so they can feel better. Again, when ignorant tourists donate money to something and have no idea where it’s going, it can do a lot more harm than good. The people who run these institutions make a lot of money by providing a steady stream of sad looking children to rich tourists who just want to make themselves feel better. There is a solid incentive to keep a supply of children, however they can, whether by kidnapping them or buying them, and then neglecting them so that people will donate money to “help” these children. 

This isn’t something that is true of every organization, but it is still a significant issue that cannot be dismissed. At best, things are inefficient and wasteful, at worst, this kind of voluntourism can be extremely harmful. Which is why people who know nothing about anything, running around trying to make themselves feel better, is something that needs to be stopped until they understand the implications of their actions, and can contribute if not in a truly helpful way, then at least in a way that isn’t harmful. 

Just because someone means well doesn’t mean that the harm they do somehow doesn’t count. 

(via indecisivenoise)

Voluntourists go abroad and work. Just sending money doesn’t count under the voluntourism banner. I’m pretty sure voluntourists don’t just throw money at dictatorial governments, especially since so many of them are aimed towards refugees of such organizations.

The “$3,000 might make someone get jealous, then someone could get killed” argument is so weak it’s not even worth addressing. 

On the subject of schools, your argument is “the schools may not be big enough to teach everyone. People might argue about it, so let’s not build schools.” That’s absurd and we both know it. School creates those kinds of problems right now, even though we have enough of them - parents want their kids to go to private schools as opposed to public schools, or this public school as opposed that school. School rivalries are common and sometimes intense. They sometimes result in violence. We don’t just fucking shut down every school.

Can you provide a source for this kidnapping of children for use in this kind of “business”? ‘Cause that’d be fucked up if so, and worth fighting, but I’ve never heard of it.

Other than the possibility of the orphan thing, you haven’t provided a single concrete example of how voluntourism could do actual harm to a third-world country - only how they could be more efficient than they are. But as I’ve said before, the efficiency of doing nothing is 0%, so while I understand the urgency you feel toward improving volunteer efforts, I can’t for the life of me understand why you think of it as a bad thing.

No one’s saying good intentions justify harm. I’m literally saying the opposite of that. Some voluntourists have shitty intentions - they just want to look good. But the fact is that these guys are injecting much-needed capital (both human capital and money) into the local economies. Therefore, let’s keep them at it while trying to improve the efficiency of the system.


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Tuesday, April 22
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As admirably altruistic as it sounds, the problem with voluntourism is its singular focus on the volunteer’s quest for experience, as opposed to the recipient community’s actual needs.

Opinion: The white tourist’s burden: Growing Western demand for altruistic vacations is feeding the white-savior industrial complex (via aljazeeraamerica)

I really doubt that the people receiving help and money from white foreigners care whether or not people are doing it for them or not. If they did, they would turn down the help.

Lots of people do good things because they feel good about doing them or because their church/parents/government/authoritarian body tells them to. If we’re really serious about helping people, we should be more focused on improving the lives of the people around us than condemning people who’re making positive change.

(via descourageux)

The problem is that because it is focused on the volunteers and not the community receiving “help” is that it tends to do more damage than good in a lot of cases. 

When people go and visit orphanages, and think they’re helping, and giving kids special treatment, it makes them feel better, but they’re taking away time that kids could be in school learning things. This is a legitimate problem in some voluntourism destinations. 

Foreign aid can come with absurd restrictions, for instance only being allowed to spend money on american made products. So you have debilitatingly poor communities, riding around on harley davidson motorcycles because they need long distance transportation as cheap as possible, but it has to be bought and imported from the U.S. 

The “lets donate a million shirts” or things like Toms shoes and whatnot, suppress local economies, where it is not cheaper to get a new shirt than have an old one repaired or acquire one from local sources. 

Let’s go build a school/hospital/orphanage/whatever frequently doesn’t take into account the cost of maintaining and continuing to run such a facility. Finding qualified staff, and acquiring supplies and resources to support these places, as well as ensuring that they continue to be used for this purpose as opposed to being appropriated for alternative for-profit means by locals with more power. 

The problem with voluntourism is that it focuses on the volunteers and not the communities in need of aid. The most effective change in a community comes from people who live in that community. Who understand the needs of that community, and how to provide it in a way that will be accepted and can be sustained. Frequently this means that foreigners completely ignorant of the culture, not to mention healthcare and community building and everything they are volunteering to fix, show up and fuck up imperfect but functional systems, and then leave. They would be better off supporting already existing systems, or maintaining an assisting role and following the lead of people who are already there. 

This is not to be confused with legitimate, professional aid organizations. Which, while also frequently damaging, at least sometimes hire qualified individuals and maintain long term (hopefully) sustainable plans for the communities they seek to help. 

Taking advantage of others’ suffering to make yourself feel better is selfish and vain and damaging and the sooner people realize this and decide to help in more useful and appropriate ways the better, even if they are more subtle. The point of helping people, is to help people, not come back with stories to smugly throw in the face of others implying that you are a better person than they are. 

(via indecisivenoise)

If someone sends you a $3,000 Walmart gift card, that’s still $3,000 you didn’t have before. Only being able to spend it at Walmart doesn’t make $3,000 a bad thing. It’s literally free money. If England wrote me a check that I could only spend in England, I’d be happier than a motherfucker. If I need a vehicle, I’d happy import an English motorcycle, because driving an English motorcycle is better than walking. And when I went to get it refueled or serviced, it’d be within the U.S., because that’s where I live, so my community would still benefit from my purchase.

Money saved on buying and repairing shirts can be spent elsewhere, and will be spent within the economy. If you have $10 budgeted to buy a new t-shirt, then someone gives you a t-shirt, you have $10 more to spend on groceries. It may damage certain businesses, yes, but the net damage to the economy as a whole is exactly $0 since they’re going to spend any money, and since the clothing costs less, the overall quality of life in the community improves. This kind of thing happens all the time; when the automobile was created, horse-breeders, carriage-makers and all sorts of horse-based businesses suffered, but the overall economy and quality of life grew. It’s called Schumpeter’s gale.

Let’s say we build a school. If we built it and just left it there, empty, we’d still have made a contribution to the community. The money with which we bought the land will go to the previous land-owner, who will spend it within the community. But I’m gonna go on a wild leap of faith and say that it’s not very often that organizations will build something and then just leave it there, since that would defeat the whole point - let’s say, as is much more likely, that the school is built, but understaffed and underequipped. That’s still a school that didn’t exist before we built it, and those are still teachers that they didn’t have before we hired them.

You don’t want anyone to fund orphanages because the kids should be in school. You don’t want anyone to fund schools because if they build a school it might not have 100% of the resources it needs, even though 50 or 60% is infinitely better than 0%. That math doesn’t add up, dude.

It doesn’t matter how shitty voluntourists are. It doesn’t matter whether or not they’re vain or selfish. It doesn’t even matter whether or not they’re efficient in their altruistic efforts, because the cost-effectiveness of doing nothing is always 0%. A selfish man’s dollar is better than a good man’s well-wishing, no matter how poorly allocated. Could the system be better? Yeah. Could these communities be better served by people who care more about them than looking good on Facebook? Hell yeah. But that doesn’t mean we should try to stop them from contributing to developing communities. 

If the ultimate goal is to improve the lives of people overseas, well, in my book, trying to stop is what’s vain and selfish. We can sit here arguing and moralizing, but if a some selfie-taking jackass builds a home for someone, he’s done more for the unprivileged than either of us. Even if he doesn’t include enough bedrooms to avoid room sharing, and even if the house is built with American bricks, the house will keep them out of the rain better than our goodwill.


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As admirably altruistic as it sounds, the problem with voluntourism is its singular focus on the volunteer’s quest for experience, as opposed to the recipient community’s actual needs.

Opinion: The white tourist’s burden: Growing Western demand for altruistic vacations is feeding the white-savior industrial complex (via aljazeeraamerica)

I really doubt that the people receiving help and money from white foreigners care whether or not people are doing it for them or not. If they did, they would turn down the help.

Lots of people do good things because they feel good about doing them or because their church/parents/government/authoritarian body tells them to. If we’re really serious about helping people, we should be more focused on improving the lives of the people around us than condemning people who’re making positive change.


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Monday, April 21
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Nope

Nope

Tags: gray husk of death
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Thursday, April 17
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captainjaymerica:

That which does not kill you makes you stronger.
Except for liver shots. Those things make you wish it killed you.


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When Washington outlawed alcohol, booze vanished overnight and everyone stopped drinking. Can anyone deny this? When Washington banned the use of cannabis, all of us made insane by Reefer Madness quit smoking dope, and today there is probably not a town in America in which one might buy a joint. Similarly, Washington made illegal the downloading of copyrighted music—which also stopped immediately. No one now has illegal music. Ask your adolescent daughter.

So with guns. They are small, easily smuggled, of high value to criminals and will be of higher value when only criminals have them, so it is virtually certain that they will vanish when the government says so.

Mexico, where I live, has stringent laws against guns, which have proved at least a partial success. Criminals have AKs, RPGs, and grenades, while nobody else has anything. That’s a partial success, isn’t it?

— Fred Reed, The New Soviet Asylum (via anarchei)

(Source: echo5charlie)


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Tuesday, April 15
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xombiedirge:

Samus Aran by Jonathan Roméo

xombiedirge:

Samus Aran by Jonathan Roméo


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officialfrenchtoast:

”..the Son of Man came not to be served, but to serve..”
-Matthew 20:28

officialfrenchtoast:

”..the Son of Man came not to be served, but to serve..”

-Matthew 20:28


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