Tuesday, January 15, 2008

Priorities of Help Groups: Time vs. Money

I mentioned earlier that I had ironically first thought about last year when staying at a hotel casino and exposed to people gambling.

There are two casinos near Eugene. Both are on Native American land, of course. From what I understand they are very different.

One is apparently a success story: located far away from large towns and cities so it is not a source of temptation to local residents, it has provided income for the Native American tribe that runs it, which has been wisely used to help bring many in that tribe out of poverty and productively into working for other tribe-run businesses. I know that families with many kids often stop there on RV trips through Oregon because the overnight RV fee is inexpensive and all guests receive a coupon for a free breakfast.

The other is apparently the opposite: it is located in a sizeable town it has become a problem to local residents, it lacks any history of using its profit to help the tribe that runs it, and it has a huge public relations problem.

In any case, because nearby casinos exist, Eugene usually has a few of its freeway billboards advertising a government-funded organization that helps people overcome a gambling addiction.

While visiting that casino I realized that I had never even heard of (let alone seen a paid advertisement for) any group in Eugene offering help to people whose addiction was about wasting time rather than wasting money. That seemed odd because Eugene is a college town. With a tenth of our population being the local college students I am sure as many lives are in trouble because of time-devouring addictions as money-devouring ones.

The prominent existence of a group to help with gambing, but lack of the existence of a group to help with time-wasting addictions, made me wonder about how differently society sees time and money...

First, does the government, who funds such help groups, value its citizens' money more than their time?

Second, do churches and other sources of counseling that lack government funding (and were once the only public sources of counseling) still do a sufficient job with helping people overcome time-wasting addictions so that the government has not yet needed to supplement their efforts?

Third, how much does society consider a person's money a more public matter than the person's time? For example, many people are in public, legal trouble for not paying alimony, but I've never heard of anyone getting in similarly public trouble for not paying enough attention to their spouse. Also, those who are wealthy are socially are expected to be financially charitable, but those who have free time are not similarly pressured to do volunteer work.

I don't have any nicely packaged answers to these questions.

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