Technology, Philosophy, & Sometimes Both

Thoughts on the World by Jack Umano

The Goal of an Altruistic Group is Obsolescence

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When an altruistic group is formed, it’s goal should be to make itself unnecessary.  Even though it might never get there.

This follows logically from “Give a man a fish and you feed him for day, Teach a man to fish and you feed him for a lifetime.”

The goal of a homeless advocacy group is not to provide clothes or food for the homeless (although those could be side projects).  The goal is to reduce homelessness.  The group would rejoice in the news that there were fewer homeless people and the advocacy group should welcome the opportunity to shrink.

The NAACP could celebrate when a school removes admission quotas requiring racial diversity.  That is, if that school has achieved racial diversity in recent years and finds that they no longer need the requirement.  The NAACP would have accomplished their goal in that area and should be happy to be removed from the equation.

Most groups will not start with a mission would involve making themselves unnecessary.  And in the long run, they will fall victim to Jerry Pournelle’s Iron Law of Bureaucracy, which claims that an organization will eventually be controlled by people who are interested in forwarding the organization rather than people who are interested in the goals of the organization.

It may be that they only way to create a truly altruistic group is to only have volunteers. Then the shrinking of the staff would be a welcome rest from the work.  An unpaid staff could funnel donated money to contractors as long as those contractors are not too dependent on the income from that job.


Written by Jack Umano

February 15, 2011 at 3:46 pm

Posted in Philosophy

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