Tuesday, November 11, 2008

The Annual Guilt Purchase Drives

For you, Princess? I'll buy junk looks at the pressure to buy overpriced goods from kids raising money for Boy Scouts, the marching band, and what not.

When I was a kid, my brothers got their Tom-Wat kits every year -- neat cardboard cases containing samples of merchandise you'd actually want to buy, at Dollar General prices. Spatula sets. Car wash cloths. Costume jewelry. Note paper. Cheap but farily sturdy toys. I looked forward to the Tom-Wat kits, making a point of buying many Christmas presents from my brothers. I'm not sure how much money the Cub Scout troop earned this way, but it was honest money honestly gained.

But those days are gone.

Now it's mostly stuff you don't particularly want, at prices that, as Celia Rivenbark said, would put a crack dealer to shame. Even Tom-Wat, once purveyors of modestly-priced stuff you can actually use around the house, now peddles nothing but expensive claptrap.

It's not the kids' fault that whoever's in charge of their fundraisers chooses to have them extort money by selling overpriced stuff nobody really wants. They need the money for their projects -- a camping excursion, new uniforms, whatever.

But I now refuse to be suckered by the fundraising industry. I give the kid a fiver and be done with it.

The group gets more money than they'd have made from an actual sale, and the seedy outfits that send kids to peddle their wares get nothing. And I'm out fifteen dollars less than I'd have spent on a few chocolate truffles.

And I hope for the day when they go back to selling something people would actually want, at market prices.

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