Uncharitable: Dan Pallotta
A courageous call to free charity from its ideological and economic constraints. Uncharitable goes where no other book on the nonprofit sector has dared to tread. Where other texts suggest ways to optimize performance inside the existing paradigm, Uncharitable suggests that the paradigm itself is the problem and calls into question our fundamental canons about charity. Author Dan Pallotta argues that society’s nonprofit ethic acts as a strict regulatory mechanism on the natural economic law. These double-standards place the nonprofit sector at extreme disadvantage to the for profit sector on every level.
While the for profit sector is permitted to use all the tools of capitalism to advance the sale of consumer goods, the nonprofit sector is prohibited from using any of them to fight hunger or disease. Capitalism is blamed for creating the inequities in our society, but charity is prohibited from using the tools of capitalism to rectify them. Ironically, this is all done in the name of charity, but it is a charity whose principal benefit flows to the for-profit sector and one that denies the nonprofit sector the tools and incentives that have built virtually everything of value in society. This irrational system, Pallotta explains, has its roots in 400-year-old Puritan ethics that banished self-interest from the realm of charity. Pallotta has written an important, provocative, timely, and accessible book-a manifesto about equal economic rights for charity.
His book provocatively challenges traditional views of how charities should operate and provides a thought-provoking alternative. He explains in graphic detail how these values undercut what charities are trying to do and prevent them from accomplishing all that they might. DAN PALLOTTA founded Pallotta Team-Works, the company that invented the AIDS Rides and Breast Cancer 3-Day events, which raised over half a billion dollars and netted $305 million in nine years-more money, raised more quickly for these causes than any known private event operation in history.
AMC’s Dietland would still be culturally notable if it were merely a timely and trenchant drama about fat acceptance. Plum’s fate isn’t to look like a Disney princess, but to help all women feel like one – through whatever means necessary. Dietland is a riveting whirligig of a show: a tale of self-discovery, a manifesto about sizeism, a screed against consumer capitalism and a mystery about a radical feminist terrorist cell that uses vigilante violence to punish rapists, pedophiles andmagazine editors. For a series that’s mostly set in a picturesque cafe, a glamorous magazine headquarters and an unrealistically nice New York apartment, Dietland begins with a gritty montage. Dietland’s boldest assertion is that milder forms of sexism – like being judged for being plus-sized or catcalled on the street – are on a spectrum with more brutal acts at the extreme end.
It just might be that pattern-finding – that grouping of diverse but related acts of transgression – that gives Dietland its significant emotional power: There’s no end to the variations that misogyny will take. The two strands of Dietland – Plum’s journey toward self-acceptance and the payback murders in the background – don’t quite seem like they belong on the same show, and thus make for an intriguing package. Plum tells us in voiceover that she’s in a happier future, and that what we see is the beginning of her quest. It’s still unclear whether Nash’s slightly numbed performance is her interpretation of Plum’ fearful and ascetic lifestyle or a reflection of the actress’ talents. In its early going, at least, Dietland satisfies through its incisive satire of fat phobia, as well as its compassionate exploration of how low self-esteem can circumscribe not just one’s life, but one’s dreams for one’s self as well.
Being pressured to look a certain way is bad enough, but being made into a pariah for veering so far from the beauty ideal is a living nightmare. There’s a weary relief in being reminded that, yes, femininity can feel like a psychic hellscape sometimes.
Can Capitalism Be Compatible with Christianity?
I am a natural born U.S. citizen; I am practically a natural born Christian, too. At Vacation Bible School, we pledged allegiance to the United States and Christian flags with absolutely no sense of irony. It was made clear to me that good Christians supported their country, even if its actions ran counter to the teachings of Jesus. That’s just one example of the tensions that can arise for someone trying to be both a faithful Christian and a faithful U.S.
citizen. Over the years, I began to try to think seriously and critically about those tensions; specifically, I began to think about how I and others could appropriately live in the United States as Christian citizens. Take, for example, the matter of a Christian’s stance toward U.S. economic policies and practices. I am neither an economist nor the son of an economist, but we all know that the heart and soul of the U.S.
economic system is capitalism. If I am a Christian operating a business, then ideally grace, love and generosity will be churned out along with profits. Still, it is difficult to make a case that capitalism is a Christian system or is even particularly compatible with Christian practice, given that it is based on competitiveness that all too often degenerates into making a profit at any cost – even if that cost is a human one – and into an atmosphere of greed and selfishness. It seems to me, too, that many professed followers of Christ who put capitalism ahead of their Christianity do not take seriously enough the very clear bias of God – as God is revealed in the Bible – toward the poor and the helpless. I’m not convinced that we couldn’t have it both ways – that is, that we couldn’t foster a robust business climate that still finds a way, through the combined efforts of government, churches and nonprofits, to protect and care for the poor and helpless among us.
I furthermore believe that Christians could and should be in the forefront of such an effort.