Tuesday, August 31, 2021

Organizations, Revisited

Every organization goes into self-protection mode, eventually.  Even charities founded to do noble causes end up becoming behemoths.

I have been getting a number of disturbing e-mails from the head of the AHF or Aids Healthcare Foundation.  It is a worthy cause, and they do free STD testing in cities across the country.  But the e-mails are all about the Corona Virus and how pharmaceutical companies are being "greedy" for not handing out more doses of vaccine to third world countries - or that was the gist I got out of it.  I get one of these e-mails about every few days, it seems.  Of course, this isn't the first time they have sent me alarming e-mails.

I had always thought the AHF a worthy organization, but these e-mails were troubling to me.  I searched online, and there is some controversy, at least in the past, concerning the organization and its leader.  At first, I thought this was odd, but then again, it doesn't surprise me.  And of course, there are two sides to every story - right?  In any organization, there will always be those who are browned-off at the leadership, and then go and criticize it for their actions.  And in many organizations, there are leaders who take advantage of the perks of running an organization.

And we've seen it all before. Carlos Ghosn was accused of using company jets to fly his family on vacations and to accept payments "off the books" in the form of company-owned houses and such.  The head of United Way used charity money to pay for hookers and limos - the latter of which I would see parked in front of their world headquarters as I commuted to work in Alexandria.  And by limos, I mean plural - so it wasn't just him riding the gravy train.

Other organizations have become juggernauts as well.  I met the Mother who founded Mothers Against Drunk Driving - she was forced out eventually and replaced with "professional" charity management.  And of course, the Susan Komen breast cancer charity has generated its own share of controversy.  Even things like public radio and television have become controversial - once serious money is on the table.  The Muppet people are always stepping in the dogshit (this month's "outrage" - they fired Kermit the Frog, probably because he asked for more money.  Dumb frog! Money is for executives!).  But the heads of many of these organizations are raking in serious money.  NPR, which generates "content" that public radio buys, pays its leaders in the millions.  So much for the public good!

But what is going on here with AHF?  Why are they interjecting themselves into the CoVid crises, when they already have so much on their plate?  I am not sure why, but perhaps this is just a hobby of the CEO, sending out alarming e-mails and whatnot, with his personal opinions (he should get a blog instead!).   Or perhaps they feel that the AIDS crises (which by the way, is still going on and still killing more people worldwide that this CoVid thing) is taking a back seat to CoVid, so they want to stay relevant by jumping on the latest bandwagon.  Or perhaps they are trying to expand their purview to other areas besides STDs and HIV. I think perhaps the latter.  After all, there is a lot of government money being thrown around these days, and a lot of it is related to CoVid.  You go where the money is.

The sad thing is, I had a very good impression of the AHF charity and thought they were doing good works - which they are.  But I hesitate to donate money to them, given the controversies I am reading about online and the stupid alarmist e-mails I am getting on a weekly basis - each time accusing a different pharmaceutical company of malfeasance.

Maybe it is just me, but I think they should stay in their own wheelhouse - their own sandbox, to use the tortured metaphors of today - and concentrate on STDs and HIV, which are spreading alarmingly, particularly gonorrhea lately.  I mean, that's quite a lot on your plate right there - running a nationwide (worldwide?) network of STD and HIV clinics and treatment centers.   Jumping into the CoVid fray seems, well, a bit much - particularly if the organization can do little more than critique others.

So, alas, once again, I have to decline to donate money to another organization that has gone off the rails.   I want to help the worthy causes, but the CEOs of these places keep taking it in another direction.  I want to fund charity, not some CEO's cushy paycheck or political agenda.

And sadly, when you donate to any large organization, well, that's what you're paying for, at least in part.

Charity, heal thyself!

UPDATE:  The worst e-mails I get are from Sandy Hook Promise, which claims I already donated to them and implies I am required to donate again.  They are not above using emotional triggers to get me to donate, and it is kind of unseemly at time.  "Robert, today is the first day of school, and I can't help but think about my dead child...."   And I get these almost daily, if not weekly.

UPDATE: This e-mail arrived today and is typical of the drivel I get from AHF:

Protestors Push Moderna to Drop Vaccine Prices, Share Technology!

Grassroots "Vaccinate Our World" campaign actions continued this week as advocates conducted a protest and ‘die-in’ at the U.S. headquarters of COVID-19 vaccine producer Moderna in Cambridge, Massachusetts on Tuesday. Activists demanded that the drug company halt its ‘pandemic profiteering’ by lowering its exorbitant prices per dose and sharing vaccine patents to boost production globally.

There have been 4.5 million global COVID-19 deaths, and roughly 70% of the world’s population has yet to receive a single vaccine dose—yet Moderna is set to reap over $22 billion from vaccine sales in 2021 alone. The price for a single Moderna jab can cost as much as $37, while competitor AstraZeneca sells its doses for under $5, by comparison.

"Some of us in America are deciding whether or not we want to take our next shot – when most people worldwide haven’t even gotten their first shot," said Tracy Jones, Senior Director & National Director of Mobilization Campaigns for AIDS Healthcare Foundation (AHF). "It’s time to share the patents! It’s our responsibility to hold drug companies accountable and help the rest of the world get out of this pandemic."

The demonstration at Moderna’s headquarters come two weeks after AHF and partner advocates held similar actions at Pfizer’s offices in New York City. The two vaccine makers are the leading producers of mRNA vaccines, with the companies collecting more than 90% of global COVID-19 vaccine revenues and having secured a combined $60 billion in vaccine sales just in 2021 and 2022.

Vaccine makers like @moderna_tx are charging 15% to 25% more per dose than they did for the first set of shipments. Meanwhile, low-income countries have only vaccinated about 2% of their populations! Say it with us: Hey Hey! Ho Ho! MODERNA GREED HAS GOT TO GO!

"We’re never going to get out of the global pandemic if these [drug] companies don’t start sharing vaccines and supporting other countries around the world to get everybody vaccinated," added AHF Senior Regional Director Marlene Lalota. "Generations will judge these companies by their actions. Today is the day – lower the price, lower the profits, share the patents!"