Do Capitalism and Doing Good Really Go Together?
In preparing to launch my upcoming book, Get Money Do Good: A True Story How-To, I have gotten feedback from some beta readers—all of which informs my editing and marketing process. One reader—offended by the dichotomy of the title—challenged me outright:
What does capitalism have to do with adoption?
I appreciate these types of questions because they lead to the robust dialog that we talked about in our When Good Looks Bad (WGLB) blog. The media loves to portray capitalism as synonymous with corporate greed, forgetting the young entrepreneurs, quirky innovators, and small business owners who make up at least 50% of the economy. Challenging questions like the one I got this week are important to bring a more nuanced understanding of the love/hate relationship between society and money.
To answer the question and break it down, typical international adoptions cost between 20-50K, depending on the country. These fees include agency services (e.g., home studies, medical checks, government approvals, notarial services, and processing fees), in-country services (e.g., donations to the orphanage, additional medical, paperwork checks), and travel expenses (often the biggest expense). I don’t know many people who have an extra 50K to spend, but the cost is not negotiable. Multiply that cost by 10 (for my 10 kiddos), and you can hear my point: We needed to get money to do this good. Enter capitalism. Now we need to earn the funds necessary to raise all 12 of them.
In the current culture that loves to demonize capitalists as the antagonists of the story, Garry and I often assume the anti-hero role.
In the current culture that loves to demonize capitalists as the antagonists of the story, Garry and I often assume the anti-hero role. An anti-hero is the character in the story whose good—often looks bad. We could have been the more acceptable protagonist and chosen a more modest life, but after seeing what we saw, we had no choice but to reach high. In our work, Garry and I have traveled to distant places, where diverse experiences pointed us to a very real problem: lost children, stolen lives, and no way out.
The problem of human trafficking is real, and it is only getting worse. According to former special agent Tim Ballard, recent data tells us that every 30 seconds a child is swallowed up by trafficking to be used for sex, labor, or organs.1 This number has increased a ten-fold in the past year, due to the pandemic.1
As we riot and grumble, quarantine and mask, serious problems like child trafficking are escalating right under our noses.
In the vacuum created by government restrictions and stay-at-home preferences, the bad guys are filling the space. I am not suggesting any of the current crises are less important than trafficking, but I am confirming that the problem at least deserves some attention—and our best efforts.
What does that mean for us? Here’s a few ideas suggested by the experts:
- Stay up with what’s happening on the internet to lure unsuspecting, bored kids into danger through interactive, online gaming and other video site platforms infested with predators.2
- Have discussions with your friends and family about trafficking to raise awareness and share what you learn.
- Follow the advocacy efforts of some incredible organizations, such as Polaris, Thorn, and the Anti-Human Trafficking Intelligence Initiative—agencies that track the dark web, follow illegal money trails, and hunt for lost people. Find links to these sites on GMDG Hero’s Page.
- Use your resources to help the kids out there who cannot speak for themselves. Whether through adoption, fostering, or mentorship, there is a lot we can do to change the tide.
Achieve a level of financial success that enables you to take care of yourself and have enough left over to go help somebody else.
So what does capitalism have to do with adoption, or any other kind of doing good? It’s really simple: Achieve a level of financial success that enables you to take care of yourself and have enough left over to go help somebody else. If we are being swallowed up by mounting debt and financial distress, how can we turn our full attention to somebody else?
Get money. So, you can do good.
Next week, we’ll dive into some ways to develop yourself professionally to do just that. In the meantime, feel free to reach out!
Drs. Garry and Jodi Vermaas