Insomnia Log

This is what keeps me awake at night???

Who needs sleep? (well you’re never gonna get it)
Who needs sleep? (tell me what’s that for)
Who needs sleep? (be happy with what you’re getting,
There’s a guy who’s been awake since the second world war)

-- words and music by Steven Page & Ed Robertson

Location: Boulder, Colorado, United States

Everything you need to know about me can be found in my posts

Friday, July 03, 2009

Strange Combinations

Last weekend I rode in the Bike MS fundraiser for the National Multiple Sclerosis Society. It was a tough weekend, covering a total of 175 miles, and I raised over $500.

This got me thinking. What is the relationship between athletic events and charities, and why are they linked? It's not just the MS Society. Lots of bike rides, runs, walks, etc., are tied to fundraising efforts.

But there's nothing inherent with bike riding or any of these other activities that has anything to do with the causes they support. I would have been happy to ride 175 miles without the charity tie in. But they wouldn't let me ride without raising at least $300. I didn't have a problem doing it, as it is a good cause. I know people with MS, and anything I can do to help is worthwhile.

But I wonder about the people I asked for money. Did they contribute because they thought they were supporting me, even though I never even saw the money? Or would they have contributed anyway? Probably not. Something about me riding my bike 175 miles caused people I know to contribute $511 to a good cause, and I'm not sure what it was. I guess I have to go with guilt -- since I made a personal request it made it harder to say "no".

And that's what these charities are counting on: Someone like me to do their job of making people feel guilty enough to contribute money, in exchange for being able to participate in an athletic event.

This is kind of like the strange combination of health insurance and employment. If you think logically about it, it really doesn't make sense for people to get their health care through work.

I guess it probably started with companies trying to attract workers by offering something of value beyond wages. But pretty soon it became expected that they would provide this benefit to their employees. Employers have now gotten trapped in a cycle of increasing health care costs that are not directly related to doing business but which they can't cut back on without big ramifications. And employees are stuck with whatever insurance is (or isn't) provided by their employer, unable to afford their own insurance, and unable to leave a job if they have any significant health issue.

So, just like I have to suck up to everybody I know to guilt them into contributing to a worthy cause so I can participate in a bike ride, my employer has to provide insurance to all its employees so it can participate in the job market.

Kind of makes you want to scrap this system and just start over from scratch.

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Blogger Gordon Weakliem said...

I'm told (by a very Republican friend) that it's all Nixon's fault - he instituted wage caps in the 70's to combat inflation (brought on by debt incurred by Vietnam), and in response, employers started offering health insurance. Back in the day, it really was insurance in the sense we think of, and not so much a fund to pay for routine medical care. Gradually the scope increased to the point we're at now, where there's no free market anymore at the consumer level - insurance companies comprise the entire market and people paying cash are completely screwed.

Wed Jul 22, 10:16:00 PM  

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