Forget about the Obama and Clinton snubs and plugs and put aside the blatant patting on the back of the Canadian tax system – this article offers a unique take on what’s wrong with traditional philanthropy. I was so excited to read it I forgot to finish my first cup of coffee this morning – a rare occurrence indeed.

The article uses Oprah’s Big Give as the representational apex of traditional American philanthropy (originating with the Rockefellers and Fords). Funny, I always knew the Oprah’s Big Give gave me the willies but I couldn’t articulate why further than expressing my frustration that it was promoting charity over problem solving. This article takes this basic understanding and explores it with a “US vs. Canadian governmental system” spin.

Using the example of a recent Oprah’s Big Give show in which contestants were tried with helping two impoverished elementary schools in Houston, Linda Diebel, the article’s author, states that during the entire experience “not one contestant turned to another and asked how such bleak Dickensian conditions could exist in American schools in the first place”. This, Diebel argues, is the sad truth happening right here in the US of A. While the infrastructure crumbles as the government turns a blind eye, really big money is being thrown at desperate problems with no larger impact than a temporary bandaid and the birth of another self-congratulating donor.

Yes, it’s an obvious pro-Canadian piece that over simplifies the situation – but it also offers a fascinating way to think about giving, how and why we do it and the invisible forces that drive us.