Thursday, April 21, 2016


Writer and the former editor of Popular Woodworking magazine Christopher Schwarz is an interesting, although at times, an idiosyncratic writer. I've read some of his work and he seems knowledgable, if opinionated, about his subjects.

Here, he relates a tale from his days as an editor at a large publisher :

A few weeks before the summit, Japan had been rocked by the Tōhoku earthquake and tsunami. Like many other companies, we’d helped the relief effort by donating a portion of all sales during a special corporate-wide event.

We were briefed on how much money went to relief efforts – plus how revenue had increased dramatically overall as a result of the additional sales in our online stores. Then the highest-ranking person in the room made a proposal, and that’s when the floor fell out below my chair.

“We should find one natural disaster per financial quarter and run a similar promotion corporate-wide,” he said.

My head spun and I started saying stupid things. I remember asking how many people would have to die for it to be counted as significant enough to hold a special promotion. Would domestic disasters be better than international ones? I’m not sure what else I said, but I should have kept my mouth shut.

in the comments he explains :

Lost Art Press says:
March 25, 2016 at 9:25 am
The reason to run the disaster promotion was to increase revenue, not to help people.

Chris deserves credit for being willing to admit that he opposed and mocked the idea raising money for people in need because, while the publisher did raise money for a good cause, the publisher had insufficiently pure motives. I'm sure people suffering from a disaster would rather go without than accept money raised by a publisher knowing that the publisher had also taken in additional revenue.

I suppose one solution to that would simply have been to ask them if they would like help even though the publisher increased revenue or perhaps to not tell the suffering that the publisher had increased sales... but oh well. 

Hopefully, he isn't really a sadist and doesn't really hate the poor, the imperiled and the suffering. I suspect it is a case of hating someone (the boss) or something (the corporation) that overwhelmed his ability to consider other factors.

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