Peter Singer, a world-renowned philosopher wrote, in 1972, a seminal essay Famine, Affluence, and Morality. In it he points out that most of us would not hesitate to rescue a drowning child from a shallow pond, even if our expensive shoes would be ruined. This seems to be an example of a general principle that “if it is in our power to prevent something bad from happening, without thereby sacrificing anything of comparable importance, we should do it.” It’s a sensible claim, and few would disagree.
If you think that claim is sensible, consider this: rather than buying a bigger TV, you could buy a smaller one and donate the money saved to charity, thereby preventing an immense amount of bad from happening (for example, every $0.50 donated to Schistosomiasis Control Initiative cures a person of parasitic worms for a full year). The decision whether to give or not give matters immensely for the recipient of your help: it is a year of pain or a year without it, for you, it is just fifty cents. Can two quarters more in your pocket be as important as the absence of pain for someone else?
You can be more frugal, save money, give to charity and still get the things you want. For example, you can see the same movie in the theaters, but in the afternoon when it’s cheaper; take the money you save, donate it, and cure someone from pain! You can buy a coffee from another retailer for $1 less, donate the savings, and cure two people from pain! There are numerous ways to save and donate without sacrificing anything of value.
About Our Guest Blogger
Boris Yakubchik is a member of Giving What We Can and gives 50% of his income to the most cost-effective charity he can find.
He was inspired to give after reading Famine, Affluence, and Morality by Peter Singer and directs his donations based on research done by GiveWell.
He currently works as a high school math teacher. He is a vegetarian and an avid reader of philosophy and psychology.