I really do try and stay away from negative social media or blog posts, but more and more I’m seeing comments and viewpoints around a recently held charity drive on the interwebs that are, quite frankly, getting my goat.
The event in question: THE 702 SUN INTERNATIONAL CEO SLEEPOUT. You can read the full blurb over on the site, but in a nutshell a CEO donates a minimum of R100,000 to spend an evening on the street on one of the coldest nights of the year in Sandton CBD with other business leaders, in a fund raising drive for Girls & Boys Town South Africa
I’ve been listening with interest on my drive home over the past few weeks to various business leaders that signed up for this worthy cause discuss why they took up the challenge, and I can tell you that the concern and empathy in the brief discussions I heard are genuine, not contrived.
I’ve seen so much hatred spewed at this it’s ridiculous – from stating that the CEO’s themselves are the reason’s we need charities to begin with, to accusations that they took part merely to gain advertising for their business or make powerful business connections.
Yes, capitalism is flawed. Yes, the salaries that some business leader’s earn in a month is more than some of us will see in our entire careers. Yes, spending a night out on a street that has been cordoned off and patrolled by Metro Police in a safe environment, being fed and knowing you can go back to your warm luxury home straight after, is not getting to know what the homeless face on a daily basis. Yes, our wealth distribution in South Africa (and around the globe) is, for the most part, obscenely skewed.
But I feel the dissenters of the #CEOSleepOut project are missing the goddamn point here. This event raised over R24 million. TWENTY FOUR MILLION RAND. Let that digest, would you? I bet you that’s more than Boys & Girls Town have seen in the last 24 years (probably an exaggeration, but hey, you get my point I’m sure).
I don’t feel that applauding the money raised in any way condones the many injustices Capitalism is indeed guilty of, but for crying in a bucket, could we just appreciate what has been achieved instead of jumping up on our high horses and condemning every CEO, and painting all business leaders with the same tar brush?
I’ve also seen various comments on specific CEO’s – those that refuse to raise the low salaries of their employees yet took part in this drive, etc. Hypocrisy? Of course. BUT. Dare I say it – THEY ARE NOT ALL THE SAME. How about you try and single out the CEO’s who do good. Those that contribute regularly and have a genuine interest in the welfare of society and all those in it. I bet you you’ll find the good far outweighs the bad. Because you know what? A company doesn’t exist in isolation – business 101 folks – without a customer, there is no business, and trust me when I tell you that any CEO worth his or her salt knows this. I know exactly what you’re going to say – again, the “charity” aspect is actually self serving – they only help the less fortunate to ensure that they still have a customer base in the future. Well, of course – that’s how economies work. The end result is still achieving upliftment for those who need it.
Have a look at Richard Mulholland – his company donates 10% of their monthly turnover to charities, and he still doesn’t feel like he’s doing enough. And he was at the #CEOSleepOut. He’s driving change – he actually puts his money where his mouth is, as you can see for yourself in this TedX talk he did in 2009 in JHB:
Richard understands the fundamental issues facing most economies world wide, and something that people overlook far too often – first, if you desire change, drive it. Secondly, there can never be change without education. He is not alone in this view; many CEO’s there that night feel exactly the same way, and take active steps to achieve these goals.
You are NOT driving change by blanket slamming initiatives or our Capitalist economy that you think is responsible for all the woes of the world.Give suggestions for change; BE the change. VOTE for change. Instead, many sit on their high horses loudly decrying the wealth imbalances and condemning the wealthy for making what they perceive to be token gestures to alleviate their consciences. This solves nothing. It’s also a hellishly narrow view.
The computer / phone / tablet you are currently reading this post on – you can thank Capitalism for that. The car / bus / taxi that got you to work today? You can thank Capitalism for that. The job you are currently doing that keeps you and your loved ones sheltered and fed? You can thank Capitalism for that. The broken arm you got as a kid that has healed perfectly with no lasting disability? Yep, you guessed it – Capitalism. Capitalism drives invention – FACT. We’re simple reward driven creatures – you perform a task for a result and with expected gains on completion. If my expected gains for 7 years worth of studying are the same as my neighbour who grows tomatoes to feed the village, guess what, I’m not going to study. I’m also going to grow tomatoes. Yes, a simplistic way of putting it, but it’s true.
You really want something to be pissed at? How about the fact that the leader of our country continuously and flagrantly ignores, and even promotes through his actions and responses, the gross corruption that is eating away at our economy like a Stage IV Cancer.
How about getting pissed that Sanral tell us we must move closer to our destinations if we cannot afford eTolls, while the department of transport overpaid a company to handle the eNaTis system, who had an illegal contract to begin with, by R2 billion? And Nasir Ali got a pay increase of R332k back in 2009 – who knows what he’s getting now.
Get pissed at the fact that the councillors our tax money pay are deliberately sabotaging water sanitation upgrade and maintenance plans because they make money from their owned water trucks then supplying water short areas.
Get pissed that our government not only ignored an ICC directive, but also ignored a court order from OUR OWN COURTS, and then gave the weakest excuse in the book as to how Bashir left the country, further highlighting the fact that our ruling party thinks the populace a bunch of dimwitted jerks who will buy the drivel they continuously feed us – or, more likely, that they just don’t give a fuck what we think because the interest of the people is NOT the interest of our leaders.
Get PISSED that the tax money the government takes from us every month (and at much higher rates for the CEO’s you’re slamming, I might add) is NOT being used for service delivery of even the most basic of needs. Get PISSED that our education system is a joke, our country cannot keep its lights on, our hospitals make rape victims wait 6 hours before being attended to, that our law enforcement is more interested in lunch money than actual law, that we have accepted that taxi’s can drive where and how they want, that we’ve accepted that crime is now violent by default, and its increasing daily.
THOSE are things to get on your high horses about.
CellC summed up the state of our nation better than any previous address ever has:
Me, I’d rather have any one of the CEO’s that were at the SleepOut run our country than what we’re saddled with now. Then you’d see change and a move towards a more balanced wealth distribution. Richard for President!