TRC #477: Wedding Night Sex? + Game Farm Photography + Effective Giving

On this week’s show, freshly married Adam looks into how many people actually have sex on their wedding night. Cristina explores the world of wildlife photography and finds out it isn’t what it seems. Finally, ‘tis the season for Darren to revisit charitable giving and arm us with effective donating tips.  Huge Congrats to the Newlyweds, Adam and Véro! Toutes nos félicitations aux nouveaux mariés, Adam et Véro!

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3 Responses to TRC #477: Wedding Night Sex? + Game Farm Photography + Effective Giving

  1. Ginny Powell says:

    I am a long-time listener to the Reality Check. Thank you all for providing accurate and entertaining podcasts. Congratulations to Adam. But I have some quibbles with Darren’s segment on charitable giving, as I think he ignores some important consequences of his advice.

    1. You suggested that people should claim their giving on their income taxes and use the refund to give even more to charity. This shows that you don’t value what taxes pay for. By deciding to give that money to charity, you are also taking away from health care paid by the government (I’m in the US; you should appreciate what you have!), as well as less death-defying but still important things like universities, libraries, and roads. Is it really better to give a child in a far-off country a malaria net, instead of giving a vaccine to a child in your own neighborhood?

    2. This will sound heartless, but saving lives isn’t always an unmitigated good. Hear me out. We probably agree that euthanasia should be a right that people have; that’s one case. But even when you are talking about a defenseless child, there can be bad consequences to saving them. Imagine a society in which half of all children die before the age of 6 (sadly, still a thing we have on this planet in places). If we could suddenly save all those children, we’d feel really good about ourselves. But we might also completely disrupt that society. If all the children live, many families will have more children than they can afford. When they grow up, the huge increase in population will mean high unemployment, lack of housing and food, etc. I therefore advocate for improving society over the long term, allowing for adjustments along the way, rather than us outsiders coming in thinking we know what is best.

    I appreciate the desire to help when you see people in need, but lives should not depend on the advertising campaigns different charities decide to use this year. Important decisions about how best to utilize our resources should be made by those who have the information needed to choose well, not by individuals who fall for a sad face on some junk mail. But while I wait for a world-wide socialist government, I guess that’s the best we can do.

  2. Darren says:

    Hi there Ginny,

    Thanks for writing out some concerns and engaging with the topic. There are many nuances and complexities, and while I haven’t thought of everything (of course), I think I can address your concerns.

    You wrote:
    1. You suggested that people should claim their giving on their income taxes and use the refund to give even more to charity. This shows that you don’t value what taxes pay for. By deciding to give that money to charity, you are also taking away from health care paid by the government (I’m in the US; you should appreciate what you have!), as well as less death-defying but still important things like universities, libraries, and roads. Is it really better to give a child in a far-off country a malaria net, instead of giving a vaccine to a child in your own neighborhood?

    No, it doesn’t show that, it shows that I think that the marginal impact may be less important. Government money also pays for our military actions (arms deals and the like), numerous silly political things and various government salaries (many of which are held by underperformers). Also, how the government pays for certain things (in our system, I believe health care is a provincial responsibility but receives federal money) is quite complicated. I would have to see a LOT more evidence to indicate that rebates from charitable giving make a difference.
    All that said, your last sentence presents a choice which may not be comparable and seem to imply that we might have different notions of equality. Because Canadians do have good health care, and all children will get vaccines if they want them, there is not my concern. If pushed though, on abstract grounds, I don’t think Canadian children are more morally worthy of vaccines that children in another country.

    You wrote:
    2. This will sound heartless, but saving lives isn’t always an unmitigated good. Hear me out. We probably agree that euthanasia should be a right that people have; that’s one case. But even when you are talking about a defenseless child, there can be bad consequences to saving them. Imagine a society in which half of all children die before the age of 6 (sadly, still a thing we have on this planet in places). If we could suddenly save all those children, we’d feel really good about ourselves. But we might also completely disrupt that society. If all the children live, many families will have more children than they can afford. When they grow up, the huge increase in population will mean high unemployment, lack of housing and food, etc. I therefore advocate for improving society over the long term, allowing for adjustments along the way, rather than us outsiders coming in thinking we know what is best.

    You’re correct and it isn’t heartless. One must consider the ramifications of their actions. (That said, if we are a talking about someone’s own child, I can’t imagine anyone saying “yeah, I guess we should let my kid die because…).
    First, change happens gradually, so there is unlikely to be a major disruption.
    Second, people often seek a certain number of children. If they know fewer children will die, they will often have fewer children.
    Third, depending on the intervention, there will be larger benefits to society (e.g., parents not having to stay home or go to hospitals for their sick children, not suffering the loss of their child etc).
    Fourth, just to (re)highlight how our emotions factor in. Imagine the US saying “We foresee issues with employment in 20 years, so we will not provide any medical care to newborns in need.
    Five, I agree that outsiders often don’t know the situation. That’s why good charities work with the governments and communities to provide the services they need.
    Six, I’m not sure what ‘improving society over the long term’ means.

    You wrote:
    I appreciate the desire to help when you see people in need, but lives should not depend on the advertising campaigns different charities decide to use this year. Important decisions about how best to utilize our resources should be made by those who have the information needed to choose well, not by individuals who fall for a sad face on some junk mail.

    This was exactly my last point, so I’ll take it that we are in agreement here.

    Thanks for listening!
    Darren

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