Charity sucks. At least in this instance.

There was once a device marketed to housewives  that would charge anyone who wanted to ring the doorbell 10 cents as a mean of reducing the number of traveling salesmen knocking on their doors.

In order to ring the doorbell, a visitor had to deposit a dime in a slot right next to the bell. This would trigger the bell to ring. If the guest was a friend, the dime was returned upon entrance. However, if the visitor was a stranger, the money was retained by the device and was given to charity.


Obviously the ability for a person to knock on a door rather than ringing the bell mitigates the effectiveness of this device, but my real problem with it is the idea that the money collected was given to charity.

While I am not opposed to charitable giving, it seems to me that if you are forced to endure an unsolicited solicitation from a sleazy salesman, you should be able to profit from the time lost.  

I encounter a similar issue when students in my class win writing contests and are awarded cash prizes. Oftentimes the parents of these fledgling wordsmiths want their child to donate their winnings to charity or to some school-related cause.

I’m always appalled at this notion.

I explain to parents that this is the worst possible thing to ask a child to do. In almost every case, it’s the first time in the child’s life that he or she has received monetary compensation for mental exertion and creative output.

Reinforce this incredible feeling by allowing your child to revel in the joy of cold, hard cash.

Better yet, expand upon the experience. Enhance the reinforcement.  

Take your child to the most decadent candy store on the planet and allow him or her to spend every dime on jujubes and lollipops.

Allow your child to purchase the book that you thought was inappropriate for his or her age level.

Permit your child to purchase his or her first rated R movie ticket.

There will be plenty of opportunities in a child’s life to help those in need, and a charitable spirit is a quality that is well worth fostering in young people.

Just not immediately after a child has been paid for something he made up in his head. Don’t ruin the moment by forcing your child to give this money away to starving children. Not this time.  

It’s no surprise that it took me three years to complete my first novel but less than a year to complete my subsequent books.

Once you get paid for your efforts, you want to be paid again and again.