Concerning Cake, Bilbo Baggins, and Charity

So a couple days ago I did an AMA on Reddit.

It was fun. I enjoy goofing off, interacting with my readers, and answering questions. So this sort of thing is a good fit for me.

Kvothe pants

The day after the AMA, I went back in to see if I’d missed any particularly important/interesting/clever questions.

And I found one. A really good question.

I started to answer it. Then I kept answering it. Then I realized I’d written about 400 words and stopped myself from going any further.…

So rather than post my answer there, buried deep in a thread at the bottom of a dead AMA. I’m answering it here with the author’s permission.

*     *     *

This is going to sound pretty awful, but why all the charity work?

I’ve always been… well, financially challenged (at young Kvothe-like levels at times), and from what I’ve read, you were in a similar state for a long time. I can’t imagine doing so much for strangers even if that changed, and sometimes…

Well, it kind of bugs me. There are loads of things that you do that I would love to give you money for, but when you do them for charity, I feel like I wouldn’t be supporting you, my favorite writer, by supporting those charities.

This sounds intensely selfish, I know, but it comes from ignorance, not malice.

Thanks for being honest here Jason. This is an interesting question for me to see. And I think it’s an important question to answer.

The simple truth is, Jason, at this point in my life, I have enough money to live comfortably. And in my opinion, if you have enough money to live comfortably and you keep trying to get more and more and more money… well… it’s kind of an asshole thing to do.

It’s like this: if you have one piece of cake, and you eat it, that’s fine.

If you have two pieces of cake, you should probably share some with a friend. But maybe not. Occasionally we could all use two pieces of cake.

But if you have a whole cake, and you eat *all* of it, that’s not very cool. It’s not just selfish, it’s kinda sick and unhealthy.

portal(No lie.)

And if you have *two* cakes, and you keep trying to get more cakes so you can eat ALL the cake? Well… that’s really fucking mental. And awful. And about as close to real evil as actually exists in the world.

Right now, I have… well… probably somewhere between 2-4 cakes, financially speaking.

But some people out there don’t have any cake at all. Some people don’t even have dinner, let alone desert.

That’s why I run Worldbuilders. Because some people out there have no cake at all. There are kids out there that are hungry all the time. There are kids out there with no books at all to read. There are kids out there with no beds to sleep in. No homes to come home to. No safe places. No sweet dreams.

That’s why I do all the charity work. Because the world isn’t as good as I want it to be.

We all feel this way sometimes. Because honestly, the world is a fucking mess. It’s full of dragons, and none of us are as powerful or cool as we’d like to be. And that sucks.

But when you’re confronted with that fact, you can either crawl into a hole and quit, or you can get out there, take off your shoes, and Bilbo it up.

Rankin and Bass Bilbo it up(So What’s It Going to Be?)

The work I do with various charities is my attempt to Bilbo the fuck up.

Now it’s true that I could just devote myself to making a ton of money, then donate however much I liked to charity. A lot of people have suggested this to me. Smart people. People who care about me.

And y’know. It’s not terrible advice. That’s what Carnegie did…

But honestly, that’s not for me. I don’t like the thought of spending my whole life being utterly rapacious, getting *all* the cake it is humanly possible to acquire. And then, ten years before I die, giving a chunk of it back to the world.

One reason I don’t like this philosophy is that it means you have an excuse to act like a total bastard until you’re 60 years old. And y’know, Carnegie did a lot of ethically dubious things back in the day. There’s a reason they called him a robber baron.

My other problem with this is that after 60 years of being a bastard, most people aren’t going to make a sudden transformation into being kind-hearted humanitarians.

But the main reason I don’t like this way of thinking is that it’s predicated on the thought that you, my readers, are selfish, self-centered individuals. Carnegie’s philosophy implies that I should take as much money off you as I possibly can. Then, eventually, I should do something good with it, preferably getting my name on a building the the process. Because *obviously* the lot of you are not smart enough to make the world a better place on your own.

I don’t believe that. My philosophy is that people are inherently good. I believe when given the chance, people will happily line up to make the world a better place.

I think this is doubly true of fantasy readers, and trebly true of my readers in particular.

As evidence, I give you Worldbuilders. Over the last five years the geek community has given over two million dollars to Heifer International.

This year, I hope to raise another half-million. (Though I wouldn’t cry if we managed more.)

The truth is, you don’t have to be a billionaire to change the world. You don’t have to build a library. The truth is, if you donate 30 bucks to Worldbuilders, it will change someone’s life. Forever.

chicken 2

And sure, when you donate you get the chance to win a bunch of cool books, too. But that’s just a perk.

I know the truth. I know why you’re all *really* here. I know why you’ve read all the way to the bottom of this post. It’s because you’re good. It’s because you want to make the world a better place.

The truth is, Jason. I don’t think you’re selfish. You want to support an author whose work you enjoy. That’s not a selfish thing.

But here’s the thing. I don’t need twenty bucks from you. That’s not the support I want. That’s not the support I need.

I need you to help me make the world a better place.

You can do that by donating to Heifer International over on the Worldbuilders team page.

If you can’t because you’re broke, that’s fine. Believe me, I’ve been there. But you could still lend your support by spreading the word about Worldbuilders on facebook or twitter. You could write a blog. You could make a video. You could tell a friend.

Thanks for helping everyone,

pat

  • 12:30 – Since posting three hours ago, we’ve raised $3,000.

That’s enough to provide 150 families with flocks of chickens.

Chickens require little space and can thrive on readily available scraps; this allows families to make money from the birds without spending much. A good hen can lay up to 200 eggs a year, so a flock of chickens provides a steady source of nutrition and income.

  • 2:30 pm - Five hours after posting, we’ve raised $6,000.

That’s enough to purchase biogas stoves for 6 villages.

“For most families in the places where Heifer International works, cooking usually means gathering firewood by hand, which often depletes the soil and robs the environment of its trees. In addition, smoke inhalation in poorly ventilated homes often leads to chronic lung and eye diseases.

A biogas stove is a better option. It runs off methane gas captured from animal waste, and burns cleanly, reliably and efficiently. This is not only better for the environment, it is more sustainable and healthier for families feeding their children.”

  • 7:30 pm – $10,000. 

That’s enough to train and equip 50 Community Animal Health Workers.

In many countries, access to veterinary care is limited. So Heifer International trains Animal Health Workers. Participants receive training in animal health, husbandry, breeding, and nutrition as well as tools such as thermometers, stethoscopes, hoof trimmers, gloves, disinfectants, medicine for animals, and more.

This training and equipment gives someone the ability to support themselves in a lifelong career. What’s more, the presence of an animal health worker improves an entire community with healthier animals, more successful farms, and better education about sanitation and disease.

  • 6:30 am – $15,000. 

That’s enough to supply clean water to 50 communities.

In many communities where Heifer works, most homes lack running water, and some families do not even have a well nearby. Instead, they spend a huge portion of each day fetching water. This is often a chore left to children — especially girls — leaving them no time for school. Without a good education, those children have little hope for good jobs in the future.

Heifer helps families and communities install irrigation pumps, usually muscle-powered treadle pumps that are easy to maintain and repair. Heifer also provides education in terms of water conservation and sanitation, improving community health and making local farms and gardens more productive.

  • 24 hours after making this post… 

…lovely people have donated an additional 18K to Worldbuilders, bringing our total at this moment to more than 317,000 dollars.

That’s enough to start 850 small businesses.

Enough for 2600 goats and the training to care for them.

Enough for 10,000 hives of honeybees that will improve crop yields.

Enough for 17,000 trees that give fruit, provide income, and prevent soil erosion.

I won’t be updating our total on this blog any more. Instead I’m going to put in our donation thermometer so you can watch it climb yourself.

If you want to be a part of this, it’s easy. Click here to make it happen.

(P.S. For every $10 you kick in, you get a chance to win books.)

ShelfJanuary

 (A LOT of books.)

This entry was posted in calling on the legions, FAQ, musings, Worldbuilders. By Pat140 Responses

140 Comments

  1. Sandhya
    Posted January 19, 2014 at 9:45 AM | Permalink

    Well I just cried a little.

  2. Mickey
    Posted January 19, 2014 at 9:55 AM | Permalink

    Bilbo the fuck up. Genius.

  3. littlejo
    Posted January 19, 2014 at 9:55 AM | Permalink

    May we all be the good people that Pat Rothfuss thinks we are.

  4. DionSuda
    Posted January 19, 2014 at 10:01 AM | Permalink

    Always makes me laugh and brightens my day reading the hilarious analogies in the things Pat posts on Facebook. I’ve never heard avarice explained with cake economy but I found this insightful, and it I feel it really validates the constant good opinion of Pat I see everywhere I go on the internet. I read Name of The Wind and see a hero muddled in good intentions, then I read his blog and see the same.

  5. Posted January 19, 2014 at 10:05 AM | Permalink

    Great post. I loved the cake analogy. You’re a really great person, Mr. Rothfuss. I hope you know that.

  6. imnosuperhero
    Posted January 19, 2014 at 10:12 AM | Permalink

    I see a future line of bumper stickers. “WWBD? BtFU!”

  7. awkwardlyfeminine
    Posted January 19, 2014 at 10:16 AM | Permalink

    I noticed that post, and wanted to reply to it, but felt I would be projecting a lot. And what you’ve written here is essentially what I thought your answer would be, just with a lot more cake.

    Because you don’t strike me as the type to hoard money for the sake of money. You still live in the town you lived in before all this best-selling-author stuff happened (if I’m not completely mistaken), and what you write about paints the picture of a down-to-earth guy who happens to be an insanely good writer and worldbuilder. And if you love building the Four Corners world, it makes so much sense that you’d want to work to better the world you live in.

    I get Jason’s point – I love supporting artists who create work that inspires or otherwise touches me. Threpe comes to mind… he invests in art because he loves art. And I think that a lot of people are like that, and we want as much of our money going directly to the artist as possible. And I have a problem when the money is going to random bullshit that doesn’t directly support the artist (and their team, I know it goes for most artists – there is a manager, editor, critic, or someone else who enables better art to be made), I get a bit miffed.

    But what I feel Jason’s viewpoint misses is that he’s essentially doing the same thing you are, on a smaller scale. He was poor at one point, and now that he has a bit of disposable income, wants to support his favorite author. You want to support people who don’t have anything. It’s a cycle of amazingness that he’s actually participating in without acknowledging that he’s in it. You have enough money to live comfortably, so you pass it on. He has enough money to be able to buy things to support you, so he’s doing the same.

    I think most people in the world want to do something to make things better, even if we don’t all donate directly to charity. Jason’s charity is that he supports artists, and that’s the same type of charity a lot of people take part in. But there are endless ways to support other people. You do Worldbuilders. Others buy art. Some people donate time. Some people hand out money. And on and on.

    The important thing is to do something.

    • JasonUncensored
      Posted January 19, 2014 at 11:06 AM | Permalink

      Being compared to Count Threepe may be the nicest thing anybody’s ever said about me.

      • JasonUncensored
        Posted January 19, 2014 at 11:28 AM | Permalink

        Aaaaand I misspelled his name. Great.

        • Elodins Gambit
          Posted January 19, 2014 at 11:45 AM | Permalink

          You are lucky if this were reddit you would lose all credibility and be down voted to oblivion. Dodged a bullet there.

          • Posted January 19, 2014 at 2:24 PM | Permalink

            We’re a little more egalitarian here….

      • christie
        Posted January 19, 2014 at 2:18 PM | Permalink

        That is sad.

        • JasonUncensored
          Posted January 19, 2014 at 8:00 PM | Permalink

          I don’t think so. The Count is a lovely man.

  8. Deborah Wolf
    Posted January 19, 2014 at 10:20 AM | Permalink

    I love this with great love.

  9. twizzle777
    Posted January 19, 2014 at 10:33 AM | Permalink

    I loved the blog. Although I don’t have as much “cake” as you do I agree 100%. A question before I leap. As I was looking at more information about Heifer International, I ran across the opinion/idea that giving an animal costs the poor more money in food, water, and care than the animal is worth. Thoughts? I’m not trying to argue – just trying to make the best decision.

    • Posted January 19, 2014 at 10:38 AM | Permalink

      Rest assured that I wouldn’t be working with Heifer if it wasn’t an Amazing charity. Heifer does a ton of research and works closely with the communities it helps so that it fits in well with the local economy, ecosystem, and culture.

      If you don’t trust me. Trust Bill Gates, he just gave them a bunch of money too. He’s not going to pick a stupid charity….

      • cynrtst
        Posted January 19, 2014 at 12:19 PM | Permalink

        Bill even used the 2013 Guinness World Record Reddit Secret Santa exchange to donate to Heifer!

        http://articles.latimes.com/2013/dec/20/business/la-fi-tn-bill-gates-reddit-secret-santa-20131220

      • twizzle777
        Posted January 19, 2014 at 2:59 PM | Permalink

        Thanks for the response. I probably trust you more than Bill Gates.

      • Lymond
        Posted January 19, 2014 at 7:15 PM | Permalink

        Bill Gates. Speaking of a person whose philosophy is “that it means you have an excuse to act like a total bastard until you’re 60 years old.” I’m very happy he is helping people with his billions now. But the world would likely be a better place if he’d gone about things differently over the past 25 years.

        • JasonUncensored
          Posted January 19, 2014 at 8:01 PM | Permalink

          If we define “better” as “way more polio and malaria,” yeah.

          • Posted January 20, 2014 at 5:41 AM | Permalink

            Heya Jason,

            I guessing you’re new here, and I know you hail from the far-off lands of reddit, where the culture is…. well… let’s just say ‘different’ and leave it at that.

            So I just thought I’d mention that in the comments here we strive for a community of earnest communication and discussion among friends.

            Disagreement is welcome, so long as it’s polite, rational, and well-intentioned.

            This comment, however, isn’t really an attempt to discuss. It’s just drive-by snark. Designed to irritate and inflame.

            So… yeah. We’re not reddit here. Different culture. We strive toward gentility and rational discourse here.

            Just thought I’d let you know.

            Edit: And now I see the great snarly kerfuffle down below. Let me repeat that we *strive* for friendly discourse. We don’t always achieve it.

    • rjleduc
      Posted January 19, 2014 at 12:11 PM | Permalink

      re: “I ran across the opinion/idea that giving an animal costs the poor more money in food, water, and care than the animal is worth.”

      A little bit of thought and it is easy to see that this statement is false in general.

      If it costs more to keep the animal than it was worth, few people would keep them. What would be the point? But people do and they make a living at it.

      Heifer has been doing this for a while. If giving a family livestock was not an advantage, this would be quickly obvious.

      That said, they would have to make sure the area that the people live can support livestock.

      • JasonUncensored
        Posted January 19, 2014 at 4:44 PM | Permalink

        Animals are great.

        Get a couple of ‘em together, and Bam! You’ve got more animals.

        Then you just do the stuff with the animals that you want to do.

    • Gail
      Posted January 19, 2014 at 2:21 PM | Permalink

      It’s really good of you to ask these kinds of questions and investigate a charity, twizzle777. I work in this field – specifically it’s “monitoring and evaluation” of international development work. It’s the kind of field that tries to prove that the work of a charity has a good impact. Businesses judge their effectiveness by profits, and it’s pretty easy to measure that. Charities have to measure effectiveness in much harder ways. Did we make someone’s life better? By how much? What defines “better”? How long does it last? Was it cost effective?

      I would like to say that, although I can’t speak specifically about Heifer, you probably do not have to worry about the livestock costing more than they are worth. I work mostly in Afghanistan, and there and in much of the world, livestock are considered to be like a bank. Like an asset. Many parts of the world, the number of livestock you own is an indication of your wealth, and a family would go through a great deal to hold onto it – it’s valuable. In the worst case scenario, they have to sell the animal, which means they’ll still end up with cash they can use for living, which inevitably makes them better off.

      Heifer has some problems. I don’t want to bad-mouth them, because I know they do a lot of good work. Nobody goes into this field to be greedy or get rich. But in my field, the major criticism of them is that they do not (publicly) evaluate their success. For example, as a donor, I would like to know how often their cow or goat projects actually increase the family’s income, by how much, for how long, and by how much does the milk improve the nutritional intake of the family? Heifer does not release this information. And the big movement in charity is to prove that you are having an impact, changing lives, and most importantly that your methods are what got people there. That you can truly help people.

      How does Heifer know that a family would be better off spending $1000 on a cow instead of a car, so the dad can get a job as a taxi driver in the city? Maybe he would earn more than the milk sales. Monitoring and evaluation, development economists, etc, try to prove that the $1000 cow is a better way to help people out of poverty than simply giving them the same amount in cash. Or helping them get an education by paying school fees. Or some other way of helping. There was a Planet Money podcast about this topic if you care to learn more. Pat knows about this quandary.

      People love a good story. If you talk about 1 little girl whose life is better now, people would rather donate because of her story – instead of donating somewhere that helps more people but without a great story attached. The story is important to the giver so they feel the impact they have made. Heifer is really good at this. They are so good at it, they haven’t had to prove their methods are the best. Or even that they are very good. They make you feel it without needing to prove how often they are successful.

      Anyways, this was all probably TMI. I try to give people who are interested in charities some info, if they are already researching a bit. It’s hard to do, because I don’t want people to stop donating because it’s all too complicated. Do I think your donation does well with Heifer? Yes. Does it help people who need it? Absolutely. Are there issues and problems anyway? Also yes. If you are interested, givewell.org has some of these debates, you can always find out more.

      The best thing you can do is pick a few charities that you like and trust, and be a solid supporter of them over a long period. Pat has done this with Heifer and I think it’s wonderful. Don’t have too many qualms about it. If we knew how to solve poverty, we would have done it already.

      • Kvon
        Posted January 20, 2014 at 9:56 AM | Permalink

        Givewell looks like an interesting website. Currently two of their three top rated charities are involved in worm control, which would not have so many pretty pictures as Heifer. I probably would (and have) donate to another charity if it weren’t for the book lottery. I also tend to check out the Charity Navigator website for quick info on donees. Thanks for your work in this area, Gail.

  10. Startled
    Posted January 19, 2014 at 10:36 AM | Permalink

    This is the best blog post I have ever read.

  11. Dirty_Jo
    Posted January 19, 2014 at 10:37 AM | Permalink

    Maybe that’s another item to have up for bidding, “Bilbo the fuck up!” merchandise. I’d want that t-shirt.

    Thanks for being such a nice example of a human being, and for promoting the same decency in those who are within your reach.

    • Posted January 19, 2014 at 10:40 AM | Permalink

      I’m detecting a theme here. I’d love to do something like this, but it’s probably going to be tricky…

      I’ll see what we can do without getting out asses sued off by the Tolkien Estate….

      • Elodins Gambit
        Posted January 19, 2014 at 11:48 AM | Permalink

        Be careful there pat you are on your way to being one of the greatest of all but messing with the Tolkien Estate might be the equivalent of sticking a spoon in your eye.

      • rmitcham
        Posted January 19, 2014 at 12:01 PM | Permalink

        I would definitely buy a “Bilbo Up” shirt to support Worldbuilders if you don’t mind making a kid friendly version.

      • Ritsenki
        Posted January 21, 2014 at 3:01 AM | Permalink

        It would be really awesome if you got the Tolkien estate on your side though. Wouldn’t it?

        I’m dreamily imagining a Heifer/Tolkien estate/Rothfuss collaboration-shirt-of-awesome here where all profit could go to Heifer. Publicity, geekiness and charity all in one. I don’t know about you, but that sounds *exactly* like what you are doing already.

        At least a girl can dream.

  12. Posted January 19, 2014 at 10:39 AM | Permalink

    I can’t even muster a “The Cake is a Lie” on this one.

    When my boss recommended “The Name of the Wind” to me just under a year ago, I added it to the list of books I intended to read. When my manager (who had never read a fantasy novel in his prolific reading history) chimed in that it was the first book to affect him in the same way as reading The Count of Monte Cristo as kid, it skyrocketed to the top of my “holy-shit-must-stop-reading-anything-else” list.

    I started reading it on a Saturday morning as my girlfriend prepared for an all-day study session for her certification test. Then on Sunday morning, I started reading The Wise Man’s Fear.

    After showing up to work late on Monday and Tuesday, I understood exactly what he meant.

    And while I could go on for a while about the quality of the story, the depth of the characters, the richness and realness of the world and my ever-burning wish that sympathy existed in the universe where we currently live, the experience of re-reading Day One & Day Two (more slowly and carefully this time) has truly been one for the books (apologies to Bast for the pun).

    The difference, aside from being able to pick up on significantly more secrets in pseudo-plain sight, is that in the time between the first reading and now, I have a profoundly deep respect for the man behind the man.

    Between the always-amusing anecdotes about drunk bats & murder hatchets in the great white north of Wisconsin, the #RealPatRothfuss challenge on Twitter, the kindness and patience you’ve shown time and again on your blog, the teaching moment around the mother who was off the Bilbo chart for bringing some justice to Hunter Moore, and your appearance in Chicago with Paul & Storm, you have surpassed “favorite author” status and are quickly approaching “favorite human” status.

    The biggest contributor to that meteoric climb – literary prowess and humor aside – is the genuine and heartfelt compassion that reeks through every shameless plug for Worldbuilders. Living with a native Wisconsinite, it’s not surprising in the least, but your inclusive approach to making a difference through Worldbuilders is truly inspiring. In fact, I’m not convinced that your epic beard isn’t actually strategically placed to obscure the fact that – much like the post-Christmas Grinch – your heart is 3 sizes too big. Please don’t ever let any pressures for book 3 (or anything else for that matter) interfere with your overall decency as a human being.

    In conclusion, you have become a litmus test amongst a subset of my social and professional circle: “You know about Pat Rothfuss? Alright – she’s cool.”

    tl/dr: Keep up the good work.

    • QuietLee
      Posted January 19, 2014 at 11:26 AM | Permalink

      This…

      …and ‘Wise Man’s Fear’ is the only brand new hardcover book I have ever bought simply because I felt it/Pat deserved it. Also…no way I was waiting for the paperback or for my small town library to acquire it.

      Also, since Pat knows his deep, dark self and knows he is nothing special and in fact is a complete bastard at times, humility concerning his generous spirit and extraordinarily kind soul is easy…but it it means no less to me. In a world that, from my perspective, is more and more selfish every day, Your gracious and generous self is what bumps You up on that ever precarious pedestal reserved for very few people. Sorry about that, Pat… I know You don’t want to be up there, but that is why You are.

  13. AlistairM
    Posted January 19, 2014 at 10:44 AM | Permalink

    Shame there are so many others out there with hundreds of cakes and are storing the cakes on islands so no one gets even the crumbs, and feeling justified in doing so.

    Man I really wish I had some chocolate cake now though…

  14. Posted January 19, 2014 at 10:56 AM | Permalink

    Hear, hear!

  15. nonskanse
    Posted January 19, 2014 at 10:57 AM | Permalink

    Nice view on giving vs. hoarding what you get, thank you for being you Pat.

  16. bella54330
    Posted January 19, 2014 at 10:58 AM | Permalink

    Best thing written by anyone today. BTFU!

  17. Posted January 19, 2014 at 11:04 AM | Permalink

    Thank you for all that you do for Heifer International. My kids have been saving up to donate to Heifer, and they’re going to submit their donation tonight. I read The Name of the Wind to my oldest kids and they are impressed that their new favorite author is so giving. Keep up the good work!

    • Posted January 20, 2014 at 5:52 AM | Permalink

      Ah… you warm my bitter old heart. Thank your kids for me, would you?

  18. elmobob14
    Posted January 19, 2014 at 11:35 AM | Permalink

    I’m surprised to learn that you’ve been “taking” money from me. Rich people are evil. Luckily, I have just enough, but not too much, to be a good person.

  19. Jeff
    Posted January 19, 2014 at 11:37 AM | Permalink

    Your a good man. I am glad I have gotten a glimpse of that from enjoying your books.

  20. Soren
    Posted January 19, 2014 at 11:42 AM | Permalink

    I’ve just donated. 20 euros, that makes 27 dollars. It was mostly because my father didn’t want me to give 50 euros (I’m not fucking kidding. A day ago, I was going to give 50). But that’s not the reason I’m commentating (nor my obsession with you. Well, that helped a little). the curious thing is, that when I donated, I didn’t even think in the books. Not once. Since I read your theory of people being good if you give them the opportunity, I thought you were right (yea, I read all the blog posts you had done).
    Thanks for doing all of that, pat. The AMA was great, but it also sucked. Not because you’re not fucking awesome, but more because there were a lot of spoilers of the third book. Secrets, that I didn’t discovered by myself. And I hate that.
    PD:I’ll be honest here. Do you think we’ll arrive to the 433.000$? I’m doubting it.

    • Oatmeal
      Posted January 19, 2014 at 12:17 PM | Permalink

      There tends to be a huge jump in the last few days. I’m planning on donating again on the 21st when I get paid. I know a lot of people are doing the same thing.

    • Posted January 20, 2014 at 5:44 AM | Permalink

      Oh yeah. I know my people. We’ve got some big stuff planned for the next two weeks. I’m confident we’ll clear half a million.

  21. SporkTastic
    Posted January 19, 2014 at 11:43 AM | Permalink

    When I say you’re a beautiful man, this is why.

  22. laduger
    Posted January 19, 2014 at 11:55 AM | Permalink

    This is excellent and my daughter out Bilbo’d me in this past week. My daughter is four years old. When I get home from work, if I have change in my pockets, I’ll hand her one or two coins, regardless of what they are. I gave her two quarters the other night and she was very excited about the gift. Once the excitement wore off, about a minute later, she said to me, “Daddy, I don’t need this money, I already have enough. Thank you.” At this point she handed me back the coins.

    • cynrtst
      Posted January 19, 2014 at 12:25 PM | Permalink

      And a little child will lead us.

    • Posted January 19, 2014 at 2:29 PM | Permalink

      They start off so good. I’m convinced that half our jobs as parents is simply not ruining what they already have.

  23. bass
    Posted January 19, 2014 at 11:57 AM | Permalink

    Tha’s why I think you’re not just an excellent writer – you just get my attention with anything you write- but far more important, an excellent human being.

  24. Steve MC
    Posted January 19, 2014 at 12:27 PM | Permalink

    Helping others helps others. But cluing us into such work and showing where we, too, can make that difference, makes all the difference.

  25. tyrant princess
    Posted January 19, 2014 at 12:39 PM | Permalink

    It’s hard seeing so many people equate success accumulating as much as possible. My favorite authors are sci-fi and fantasy because they usually create characters I always want to win. The hero’s are never perfect but they keep trying to be better.

  26. Posted January 19, 2014 at 12:55 PM | Permalink

    Well said Pat!! I love the Bilbo analogy. Bilbo has always been one of my favorite literary characters for just that reason. He was the fantasy world’s quietest, most unassuming badass who always did the right thing despite being scared witless. I’ve even got a tattoo of one of his quotes, to remind me to find courage when the chips are down.

    Keep on Worldbuilding; we are all behind you :)

  27. 17thSharder
    Posted January 19, 2014 at 12:55 PM | Permalink

    “It’s like this: if you have one piece of cake, and you eat it, that’s fine.

    If you have two pieces of cake, you should probably share some with a friend. But maybe not. Occasionally we could all use two pieces of cake.

    But if you have a whole cake, and you eat *all* of it, that’s not very cool. It’s not just selfish, it’s kinda sick and unhealthy.

    And if you have *two* cakes, and you keep trying to get more cakes so you can eat ALL the cake? Well… that’s really fucking mental. And awful. And about as close to real evil as actually exists in the world.”

    It honestly sounds like you’re espousing socialism and insinuating that anything not socialist is evil. Is a man not entitled to the fruits of his labor? Without being expected/compelled to share it? I think that he is. It’s kind of you to share your wealth – but to say that someone who wants to eat the cake they’ve labored to make, even if its one thousand cakes, is evil…well that’s just…naive.

    Would you explain more clearly, perhaps?

    • spysee
      Posted January 19, 2014 at 1:42 PM | Permalink

      If you can sit around and eat extra cakes you don’t need while you know people are dying because they cant make any cakes, all in the name of ‘i labored for it i can waste it if i want.’ Then yes, you are evil. Sorry if that makes you feel bad, but you are a bad person.

      • christie
        Posted January 19, 2014 at 1:55 PM | Permalink

        Well said. We are humans because we act with humanity.

      • 17thSharder
        Posted January 19, 2014 at 1:55 PM | Permalink

        I think you’re blinded by a superficial idea that you haven’t really given much thought to. What if I work as hard as I possibly can to make my one cake, and another person doesn’t work hardly at all and makes no cakes. Am I supposed to share my cake with them? When they’re a complete stranger?

        I happily share my cakes with my friends and family. I think the real evil in the world is the fact that I cannot share as much of my cake with them as I would like, because there are others who are unwilling or unable to work and a share of my cake is stolen from me to give to them. Without so much as a, “thank you.”

        To those of you who donate to charities and lend aid to perfect strangers, I applaud you. But I should NOT be forced to make the same sacrifice. In this case, I’m referring to the extra taxes I pay to support people on Welfare or Food Stamps and things of that nature.

        Let me make it abundantly clear: I think charities are a fantastic idea and the fact that the concept of charity exists at all is a testament to the goodness in peoples hearts. But I also think it should stay as just a charity. There should be no compulsion, be it mandatory taxes or the judgmental opinions of others, to donate the fruits of your labors to anyone.

        And spysee, I’m unsure what my ”need” has to do with anything. In the example I gave, I worked and made these cakes myself. I made them and they’re mine. The only one entitled to them is myself, regardless of need. Why then does my ”need” for the cakes enter in to it at all?

        Fact: Socialism gives rise to fun things like the National Socialist party of Germany. Heard of them? You may know them by the name Nazi Party.

        And lastly, as to me being a bad person…that’s one hell of an accusation considering you know precisely nothing about me. I may as well accuse you of date raping women. I have as much evidence to support that as you have to support your hypothesis that I am a bad person. I asked, politely, for a clarification because it sounded like Pat made some pretty hasty generalizations and you leap in pointing fingers and accusing me of being a bad person? Who among us, then, is the real asshole? Hint: It’s you.

        • christie
          Posted January 19, 2014 at 2:05 PM | Permalink

          Tantrum much?

          Drop the politics. Act with humanity. Kiss the ground that you don’t find out what it is like to be in need.

          And watch out for karma.

        • spysee
          Posted January 19, 2014 at 2:13 PM | Permalink

          1. The scenario at the top of your post is not the scenario we were talking about.
          2. “Need” because people die without cake, they need it or they die.(also see 1 again)
          3. There is only so much cake possible in the world. if you take more than you need and wont help others who cannot help themselves, just because ‘you earned it’ you are evil. If you take more than you need and say things like ‘socialism’ and ‘earned it’ to justify not helping others, you are evil.
          4. You get upset at a little criticism, yet think its ok to watch people starve while you have excess, just because ‘you earned it’. That’s beyond hilarious to me.

          Enjoy your cake.

          • amaranthe
            Posted January 22, 2014 at 3:07 PM | Permalink

            #3 You are wrong. It’s called the Zero Sum Fallacy. Google it.

        • UrsulaK
          Posted January 19, 2014 at 3:12 PM | Permalink

          I’m pretty sure you’re Sauron in this metaphor.

        • JasonUncensored
          Posted January 19, 2014 at 4:39 PM | Permalink

          I agree completely.

          MANDATORY charity is servitude.

          Voluntary charity, though, is a great thing.

          • 17thSharder
            Posted January 19, 2014 at 7:13 PM | Permalink

            At least one person understood the point I was trying to make. It looks like most everyone else ignored the parts where I endorsed charity and pointed out that the impulse for charity is a testament to human goodness.

            But the opinion that one should not be forced to help others got me nothing but scorn and accusations of being a bad person.

            I sacraficed four years of my life to serve in the Marine Corps Infantry. I handed out food to families in Afghanistan. I gave school supplies to children who otherwise would have never had the opportunity. I did this all because I wanted to invest some goodness into the world that I love – but if I had been conscripted to do those things, I would have despised every second and neither I nor the people I helped would have been better off for it.

            Anyway, thank you, JasonUncensored, for taking the time to actually consider the things I was saying in my post as a whole, rather then immediately focusing on one portion and lashing out.

          • christie
            Posted January 20, 2014 at 7:53 AM | Permalink

            Early help can help exponentially. In third word countries or where there is need in our own country (if you live in the USA).

            I work with special needs infants, toddlers, and children. To determine populations that need help, you actually look at infants and toddlers mortality statistics and target those populations. You find the need by looking at which infant populations are dying. For every ONE dollar spent on early intervention saves SIX dollars. Helping special needs children and their families early saves money by working towards meeting their needs and empowering their family to advocate for their child. Cost savings include health care costs, special education money and resources in schools and services needed as adults. Proactive children with improved quality of life contribute to society.

            If you apply the same strategy with society, where does the need lie? What are our societies most challenging areas? Some of the needs lie with the impoverished, abuse victims, and drug addicts. If aid is given to the areas of need, society as a whole benefits. Less crime, less drugs, less violence. Less crime saves money by decreasing the number of people in jail and saving law enforcements time and resources. Healthy people being proactive in their health care saves money. Healthy mothers have healthier babies. Some countries pay mothers to get prenatal care and save money by doing so. Less prematurity and birth complications saves money. Healthy nourished children save time and money. Proactive healthcare saves money. If someone can take an antibiotic for their condition by getting early care and it does not progress to a hospitalization with pneumonia, that saves money, resources, and health care professional time. When women have affordable access to family planning, it saves money by allowing family sizes people can support. When emergency rooms are not the only care someone seeks it saves money. Preventing teenage pregnancy saves money. When victims are helped and can be empowered it saves money. When people with mental health needs can get the care and help they need it saves money. Applying help to the areas of need save money, time , resources and benefit society.

            Is welfare perfect? No. Are food stamps perfect? No. Healthcare? No. But it’s a start. Most of us did not start out in severe need. Middle class white males don’t always realize or appreciate their advantage. I am fortunate to not be a woman born in Afghanistan. I am fortunate to live in the USA and to have born in this country in this generation as a woman. I am thankful I was born into a family that overcame obstacles to not be in poverty. The needs of people living in generational poverty lacking basic needs of food, clothing and shelter are eye opening. I work with infants of people lacking food, clothing, and shelter, and most of them are lacking tools to be “successful” through no fault of their own. If their children are given a shot, if the playing field is more equalized so these children can survive, they can excel. I’ve seen it happen. The children grow, they can read and write, they make goals, they thrive, and they give back. They know what help can do. If more people knew, maybe so much mandatory giving wouldn’t be needed.

            Educate yourselves on poverty before judging. “A Framework for Understanding Poverty” by a Ruby Payne is an excellent resource. Ignorance is not productive.

            I don’t know if anyone will read this but I hope someone might. Much longer than I set out to write. Sorry.

        • Gunner
          Posted January 19, 2014 at 8:41 PM | Permalink

          Considering the original question that Pat was answering, the key here is that he’s saying he has more than enough money already, and so trying to work harder and harder to earn more than he needs while not helping those who have less than they need (through no fault of their own) is a better use of his time and energy.

          He’s not saying that every individual must help others, though I would argue that regardless of how much or little you have, you will get more joy out of it if you give some of it away than if you hoard it all for yourself… but that’s me talking, not Pat.

          Pat’s speaking for his own motives for doing charity work, and nothing more.

        • Posted January 20, 2014 at 6:05 AM | Permalink

          Sorry Sharder. When you try to win an argument by bringing in Nazis…. well…. you have left the path of good, honest, and above all *rational* discussion.

          It’s just not of the Lethani. You follow?

          And everyone else? When someone is unfortunately trapped in a passionately held but not entirely well-informed or rational belief, the best way to handle that is through calm, kind discussion.

          Name-calling, mockery and snark are not educational. They do not promote rational discourse.

          Consider this a gentle but firm admonishment.

          • 17thSharder
            Posted January 20, 2014 at 9:51 AM | Permalink

            Hahaha, the ”Of the Lethani” part warmed my heart.

            Anyway, I hope that you can sort of see the point I was making. My original post asked for clarification from you, which was met with instant scorn from other users, then, I confess, I pulled the Nazi card out of frustration.

            What’s frustrating me even more is that it seems like people are ignoring the bulk of my remarks. The part where I applaud the charitable impulse. But when I suggest that charity should not be mandatory, not even in the form of extra taxes to support strangers, I’m met with snap judgements instead of well considered replies. I admit, I am not above sinking to the same level as the rest of the internet, hence the Nazi card.

            However, if you, as well of the rest of the people who replied to me, still believe that I am wrong and that it makes me evil. Well, I suggest that we simply acknowledge each others differences and continue doing things our own way.

            Also, I will ignore the condescending nature of your, “unfortunately trapped in a passionately held but not entirely well-informed or rational belief.” remark for the sake civility.

          • rsasser
            Posted January 20, 2014 at 3:55 PM | Permalink

            Um. So I’m a bit of a contrarian, and half the time I walking around singing Leary’s I’m an asshole, but actually in the interest of being intellectually honest, 17thSharder didn’t start the ad hominem. Sorry. Just read the thread. Secondly, Pat, politely phrased ad hominem is still ad hominem. And if you want people to refrain from that in your forum, you should refrain from it yourself. Not cool, dude.

            It annoys me to no end that people think that bringing up the Nazi party in response to an idea that reflects socialism invalidates the argument. Socialism is a direct violation of the non-aggression principle. Put simply, you are running up and down the beach with a gun to force other people to help because someone is drowning when you advocate socialism. Mandatory charity is just a pretty name for tyranny. His point is entirely valid. He’s asking if you’re socialist. And now, so am I. I see socialism as just a tiny step from Communism. It’s based on the idea that if only the right people were in charge, we’d correctly distribute resources, and the bottom line is that there’s no such thing as the right people. Our founders got this. The people in charge today are selling tyranny as social responsibility. If you support that, I can’t support you, which will break my heart, because I’m dying for your third book. But that’s just the way I am. I don’t care if you’re Jesus, Buddha, and Lao Tzu all rolled into one, if I disagree with you, I absolutely will say something. Objective reasoning, or nothing else.

          • Posted January 20, 2014 at 4:36 PM | Permalink

            Shit’s gettin’ real.

          • rsasser
            Posted January 20, 2014 at 4:58 PM | Permalink

            Not my goal for shit to get real. But call me a child of the Cold War. I have a Zero Tolerance Policy for socialism. I applaud the work you’re doing Pat, and I totally agree with your stance that people are good, and I agree with charity. But I think 17thsharder and I am asking about mandatory charity. So if I come off rough, bear in mind I’m multitasking, and this is a core value for me. No socialism.

          • Posted January 20, 2014 at 5:54 PM | Permalink

            That’s the thing. Only a handful of people have mentioned “mandatory charity” in this entire thread, none of whom are named Pat.

          • rsasser
            Posted January 20, 2014 at 6:21 PM | Permalink

            Well 17thshareder asked about it. And people jumped him – which is not cool. I should probably shut up now. The aforementioned Leary comment is accurate, and I have a dog in this fight. So I’m probably not objective and unbiased myself. Apologies all around. I should have kept my mouth shut, but it seems ‘I have a condition’.

          • Steve MC
            Posted January 20, 2014 at 6:35 PM | Permalink

            I get what you’re saying, 17th. If there isn’t choice, there isn’t growth. Each of us has to make that choice, in our own time, for our own reasons. You chose to serve in the military, others serve where they can. And we make those choices again and again, every day.

            Han wanted to blow town. Save his own ass and pay off the price on his head. But he turned back and gave what he could. Didn’t have to. He wasn’t conscripted, but the captain of his own ship. That’s what made it count.

    • themadmagi
      Posted January 19, 2014 at 9:26 PM | Permalink

      Finally un-lurking to reply to this:

      “Is a man not entitled to the fruits of his labor?”

      I think that depends on whether they are actually the fruits of his labor or not. Check your privilege- did you actually start with nothing, or did you start with advantages? Were you given things like clothing, sustenance, education, etc? These things may have been “given” to you by your parents, but not everybody has a family that is able to provide those things for them. Are you inherently more deserving because of the family that you were born in to?

      If you really started with absolutely nothing and earned everything that you have for yourself, then it is truly yours to do whatever you want with, yes. If you started with advantages over others that may have enabled you to obtain your “cake”, then … it’s still yours, yes, but this whole “I earned it and so it’s mine and I won’t share it with strangers” thing seems to have an underlying assumption that everyone has the same cake potential, which simply isn’t true.

      Should anyone force you to share your cake? Probably not; I believe in letting people making their own choices. I choose to share my extra cake, because the people I’m sharing with are, ultimately, people, and of no more or less intrinsic worth than I am, you are, or any other person is.

      • Gail
        Posted January 20, 2014 at 6:40 AM | Permalink

        Great answer. I think people forget, or sometimes never learn, the vast underpinnings of the society that supports them. Even to buy a single fruit, the huge network of things that have to happen to make that possible, to make it *mundane.*

        The apple you buy… there are people who grew it. People who produced fertilizer to help grow it. People who tested the fertilizer and pesticides for safety. People who inspect farms. People who picked it. People who transported it. Washed it. Labelled it. Stored it. Built the roads on which it traveled. Invented and built the refrigeration technology. People who invented and built the truck. People who unloaded it and put it on the shelf. Checked that it was in good condition. Kept the lights on in the store. All so you could pick it up in the store. Every day. Of every year. No matter the season.

        I don’t think people remember the vast network that helps you move through your life every day. We are so dependent on one another. It’s hard to see unless you’ve been to a broken society, where you don’t know the apple will be in the store, or that it’s safe to eat, or a bunch of other things. These kinds of networks are the hardest things to build in the world – huge systems and networks to make society work for the people in it. No one can do it alone.

        • christie
          Posted January 20, 2014 at 8:24 AM | Permalink

          Well said. I think the “entitlement” we can all suffer from benefits from your comment.

        • pbriggsiam
          Posted January 20, 2014 at 6:22 PM | Permalink

          I’m late to this discussion but since it is MLK Day, this seems an appropriate response to the “glibertarian” commenter who doesn’t want to be forced to give up all of his cakes.

          “It really boils down to this: that all life is interrelated. We are all caught in an inescapable network of mutuality, tired into a single garment of destiny. Whatever affects one destiny, affects all indirectly.”

          I wonder what the anti-socialists here would say to reading this excellent attempt to get clear about life by a former Wall Street cake-hoarder.

          Wall Streeters often whine that people hate them without good reason. But of course that’s not true. People hate them for very good reason. There are the inevitable degenerate moral cretins who watch a film like The Wolf of Wall Street (or Michael Douglas’ Wall Street for that matter) and want to be that guy. But those with a moral compass read accounts like this, or ones by Michael Lewis, or films about Wall Street, and understand that while the boring business of loans, liquidity and investment has value, the destructive, wealth-addicted, deeply immoral and Objectivist culture of modern Wall Street cannot be salvaged.

          It must be cleansed with the purifying fire of punitive taxation and regulation.

          • rsasser
            Posted January 21, 2014 at 10:08 PM | Permalink

            I’d say that “When buying and selling are legislated, the first things bought and sold are legislators” p.j. O’rourke. Your source didn’t switch gears… He switched tactics. The real power isn’t on wall street and he clearly copped to the fact that the road to Pennsylvania ave is lined with telling people what they want to hear. Is Machiavelli no longer required reading?

    • amaranthe
      Posted January 22, 2014 at 3:16 PM | Permalink

      For what it’s worth I completely get what you’re saying. I also don’t believe in “forced” charities i.e., most of my government taxes. And I don’t believe I should have to share anything I earn/make with someone who was too damn lazy to do it themselves when they are more than capable (as in, the majority of people who live in the US).

      But I think Pat was just using the metaphor broadly, and really means to only apply it to those who cannot help themselves. Those who live in third world countries where escape is nearly impossible. Or even children who of course have no say in how their parents conduct their affairs. There are certainly plenty of people who could use a slice of cake that otherwise would not be able to obtain it themselves.

      Alas, everyone’s immediate knee-jerk reaction to call you names, and then ignore your questions because of “omg you mentioned Nazis so I can just ignore whatever you say”.

  28. M.Fenwick
    Posted January 19, 2014 at 12:58 PM | Permalink

    So I just want to point out how Reddit works. Any time you “support” and or approve of a comment, you can click a white up arrow to give it an upvote…increasing its visibility. This is shown as an orange-red arrow (aka orangered). (You get a free upvote for your own comments.)

    Which means any other orange red arrows…well, do I really need to point it out?

  29. christie
    Posted January 19, 2014 at 1:48 PM | Permalink

    Ok, I think everyone is now craving cake.

    It is better to give than to receive. And it’s true. Being generous and helpful, not necessarily with money, is rewarding.

    I am shocked someone doesn’t grasp that concept. Do something kind, it feels nice. Let us know how it goes. Do a good deed without telling anyone. Pick up change dropped by an elderly person in the store, hold a door open for someone. Life is worth a lot more when you give to others. That is the reason parents know the worth of their children and wouldn’t trade it for anything…ever.

  30. cipri4n
    Posted January 19, 2014 at 2:52 PM | Permalink

    Thanks Pat for helping people do good things!

  31. GryphonBrokewing
    Posted January 19, 2014 at 3:23 PM | Permalink

    Another point that you didn’t include with the “waiting 60 years to donate” is that in 60 years, you may not be able to donate. We don’t know what the future holds. For many of the robber barons, I think a paraphrase of the old Bill Cosby line, “these are old people, trying to get into heaven now” fits their situation.

    There are no guarantees. Pat has the ability now, so it makes sense to begin building a better world now, rather than waiting for some “right time” that may or may not be there in the future.

    Way to go, Pat!

    • christie
      Posted January 19, 2014 at 3:51 PM | Permalink

      Help 60 years sooner makes things better exponentially as needs rise with time and more generations.

      • Posted January 20, 2014 at 5:56 AM | Permalink

        Especially with Heifer. As their entire model is based around education and giving people the tools to continuously improve their own lives and the lives of others.

  32. JasonUncensored
    Posted January 19, 2014 at 4:37 PM | Permalink

    I’m honored more than I can express that you answered my question so thoroughly, and I’m delighted that I helped to inspire a post that’s garnered so many donations.

    With Worldbuilders, you’ve found a way to unfuck the world a little bit, and to do so in way that’s more efficient, more direct, than almost any other charity I’ve heard of. Instead of scattering a bit of goodness around the world hoping that something sticks, Worldbuilders focuses like a precision laser and cuts out a bit o’ awful.

    I get it now. Some day, I hope to be the kind of man you are.

    Thanks, Pat.

    • Gavin enlow
      Posted January 20, 2014 at 12:22 AM | Permalink

      I agree with the original premise of your question. Maybe we readers could organize a charity that gives to our favorite authors. As well as other notable charities.

      • Gavin enlow
        Posted January 20, 2014 at 1:15 AM | Permalink

        Maybe I just missed the whole point I will take my foot out of my mouth and stop commenting.

        • eldrelore
          Posted January 20, 2014 at 4:11 PM | Permalink

          No don’t. You’re fine. Pat is something of an outlier. Plenty of authors out there only make a cake and are so glad to be through the ‘starving’ transition. You know, the phase between writing with a day job to writing full time to see if you can survive?

          I don’t know that forming a charity to help would be a great idea. Or at least, I have no intention of ever trying to define and select recipients.

          If this health care thing is so flawed that it goes completely belly up then maybe a charity acting as a health insurance or some sort of health risk sharing and arguing with providers to have reasonable prices might be helpful. As I’ve personally contributed to several artists who have had family health emergencies that would have completely bankrupted them.

  33. chaelek
    Posted January 19, 2014 at 4:52 PM | Permalink

    Posts like this,and the reasons behind them, are why you transcend past being my favorite author, and into being one of my favorite people. Good on yer, Pat.

  34. jacobjep
    Posted January 19, 2014 at 5:06 PM | Permalink

    I have never read a single one of your books. But my brother always posts your stuff on facebook. So know that this post has at least influenced one person to donate.

    because it looks like a great organization that you are helping…

    I mean “Due to Heifer International’s expenditure of about $7 million over six years, about 8,500 Ugandan families are likely to experience income gains exceeding $8.5 million a year on an ongoing basis and asset gains of about $17 million. About 5,500 of their children are likely to avoid stunting due to nutritional shortfalls. For each $1 expenditure by country programs in Albania, Nepal and Uganda, households can be expected to gain about $2.35, $1.19 and $1.25 in the respective country programs on an ongoing basis once the projects reach the maturity profile of those included in the evaluation.”

  35. Jinrocks
    Posted January 19, 2014 at 5:24 PM | Permalink

    “Fact: Socialism gives rise to fun things like the National Socialist party of Germany. Heard of them? You may know them by the name Nazi Party.”

    Erm, that’s not a fact. A fact is a constant, not an instance.

    In any case, great work Pat, and great post. Though I agree with elements of the ‘have your cake and eat it too’ argument, it is a simple undeniable truth that there are people in need, whether through lack of education, environment, tragedy or social-structural issue. It displays a psychopathic lack of empathy to see people in need as parasites, and I pity such individuals more than I pity those they disregard. Thank god that Leonard’s dreamers ride against the men of action from time to time. The ones that give when they can’t afford it are the ones that make the difference.

  36. Gunner
    Posted January 19, 2014 at 8:33 PM | Permalink

    Hey Pat, I’ve enjoyed your writing for a while and have made giving to charity something I do with every paycheck, but had never given to Worldbuilders before, mainly because I have other charities that I support habitually, but also because I guess I felt like maybe my motives would not be entirely pure if I were donating in hopes of receiving some cool books. I guess that’s probably the most altruistic reason for NOT giving to charity there could be, so I shouldn’t beat myself up. =) Anyway, after reading this I decided to donate for the first time because I really appreciate your zeal for helping others, and maybe more importantly, for convincing the rest of us that we should join you. Keep up the good work!

  37. Yves_Smash
    Posted January 19, 2014 at 10:32 PM | Permalink

    I took a Moral Philosophy class a fewyears ago in University. Since then I haven’t had more then a couple days go by without thinking about charity and if I should/could be doing more to help the world. Reading this article has finally pushed me to actually do something.
    Part of the reason I never donated earlier was because I didn’t really know what charities to trust, so I just wanted to let you know that I specifically chose this charity because of your involvement.

  38. Bom de plume
    Posted January 19, 2014 at 10:39 PM | Permalink

    “And in my opinion, if you have enough money to live comfortably and you keep trying to get more and more and more money… well… it’s kind of an asshole thing to do.”

    I understand the thought that went into this but, as someone who has devoured everything you’ve written again and again, I wish you didn’t feel this way. I would love for you to get rich and have more money than you know what to do with, not because it would give you a big pile of replica gold talents to swim in like scrooge mcduck, but because each of those talents would symbolize one more person who experienced one more book from you.

    I have no way of convincing you to write more, to tell you that your voice and writing is unique, and powerful, and rare, and that the world is improved substantially with every new book you publish. However, for people motivated by money, it can be convincing. So I wish you didn’t feel that accepting our monetary gratitude made you some kind of asshole. We’re only trying to reward you for toughing it out on those crap days where writing seems like a chore.

    PS: I do not feel any ownership of your time or energy, I just want to see as much of your writing out in the world as possible. If there’s something else we can do to help with those chore days, you know this community would do it in a heartbeat.

    • Posted January 20, 2014 at 6:12 AM | Permalink

      Oh no. I don’t feel guilt about making money off my work. The point I wanted to make is that the acquisition of money itself is not something that I’m inclined to strive toward.

  39. jdharma
    Posted January 20, 2014 at 1:17 AM | Permalink

    Pat, I really enjoyed this post. Thanks for being a good man.

  40. H4vot
    Posted January 20, 2014 at 6:23 AM | Permalink

    I’m a pretty good bloke I think, but yeah you totally make me want to be a better person.

  41. Kthaeh
    Posted January 20, 2014 at 7:24 AM | Permalink

    This is awesome. You’re awesome, Pat. Again. And it made me teary. Again. I was a fan of yours before I came to your blog in late 2012. And I was a supporter of Heifer before that too. Finding so much of your blog devoted (at that time) to raising money for Heifer just made me so much MORE a fan of yours than I would ever have expected. It makes me realize that all the writers I’ve had “literary crushes” on have taken strong moral stands in one way or the other. Your stand isn’t so apparent in your books as it is here on the blog, (at least not so far) but that doesn’t matter.

    BTW, I can relate to Jason too. I live a comfortable if modest existence now. Money is not something I have to worry about these days. But it wasn’t always so. Giving to charity just wasn’t easy to contemplate for a good chunk of my adult life. It brought up complicated feelings like anxiety and then guilt. Things look very different when you’re scraping by from paycheck to paycheck and you can’t always pay all the bills on time. And one’s thinking about money and charity doesn’t always change easily or automatically when one’s financial picture changes. I’m glad I’ve had strong moral voices – largely from writers – over the course of years that have helped form my moral framework. Never doubt the power of the written word.

  42. Primigenia
    Posted January 20, 2014 at 7:36 AM | Permalink

    Hi Pat, I’ve never posted here before. In fact I registered just to reply to this post. It has really got me thinking.

    I’ve always felt guilty about not giving to charity on a regular basis. The kind of guilt you get when you walk past a homeless person or a charity worker pestering people to sign up to monthly payments on the street. I don’t want to give money because I feel guilty, or to make myself feel better. I want to help in some way because I’d like to make a positive difference to someone else’s life.

    I’m not starving, although I’m not particularly comfortable either. However I am a lot better off than many other people in the world. I’ll get a coffee and a sandwich for a homeless person when I can (usually around payday) or I’ll put money in a collection box. This assuages the the guilt temporarily but what I would really like is to see some kind of difference made by my contribution. The homeless guy might be full for a while but he’ll still be there tomorrow and so on. I don’t really see any results from these small contributions.

    This is a bit rambling and probably doesn’t make much sense but it’s very difficult to put into words how I feel about it. Anyway what I really wanted to say is that reading this post has helped me to put things in perspective and has shown that any contribution can help. It has also shown me that I shouldn’t feel guilty and that it makes a difference if I help when I can.

    Anyway, thanks for helping me to understand and also for inspiring me to be a better person.

    Cheers
    Henry

    P.S. Absolutely love the books!

  43. Honta
    Posted January 20, 2014 at 9:09 AM | Permalink

    First off, love the books. My wife may travel to Wisconsin soon and ‘Misery’ up if we don’t get details on the new one soon though…fair warning.

    That aside, I have a concern not just about Heifer but really nearly all charity organizations. I worry that the money doesn’t do what I wanted it to. After donating last year I’ve received no less than ten requests to give more, that’s not even the issue though. I get it, charities need more money, that’s always a thing. It’s the mailers they have sent. Glorious full color, glossy pages, booklets, stamps, stickers, hefty thick envelopes full of nonsense. All these things cost money, and when I see an organisation fritter away more than needed it concerns me their accounting in general is flawed. Pat, do you have figures on the percentage of a donated dollar ACTUALLY goes to the good work we want to do? I have printed mass mailings before and am pretty sure they spent about 20 bucks on me last year…that math sets off my internal alarms.

    Anyone else disturbed by this? I’ve read that as little as 2 percent of donations to some of these charities actually makes it to the people in need. I WANT to give cake even when I have only crumbs, but I can’t Bilbo up when it feels like you can’t trust the charities…

    • Amanda
      Posted January 20, 2014 at 11:12 AM | Permalink

      Heifer international puts 73% of donations toward actually helping people, which is kind of amazingly good for a foundation of its size and scope. There’s a breakdown of that in the FAQ, as well as information on how to be taken off of their mailing list.

    • hazydave
      Posted January 20, 2014 at 2:41 PM | Permalink

      My Dad supported Heifer International for decades. They’re a class act, and most of the money that comes in goes to actually buying animals. They spend under 10% on administration and about 20% on fundraising… I’m sure it varies by year.

  44. Uncanny Valet
    Posted January 20, 2014 at 9:59 AM | Permalink

    So when is half-life 3 coming out?
    Just kiddin’. A very, very big thank you to everything you do Pat, you really help make the world a better place!

  45. durroth
    Posted January 20, 2014 at 10:22 AM | Permalink

    … Damnit pat. That is a great answer, but my brain processed it and immediately spat out “Lex Luthor stole forty cakes. That’s as many as four tens, and that’s terrible!

  46. Fuzzatron
    Posted January 20, 2014 at 10:23 AM | Permalink

    http://www.reddit.com/r/funny/comments/1vlp64/author_reviews_his_own_book_that_hasnt_been/

    This also made the front page of Reddit yesterday, in case you didn’t know.

  47. Posted January 20, 2014 at 10:26 AM | Permalink

    I didn’t understand most of the text, but that doesn’t matter ’cause I got the message that you wanted to spend. Currently I have two pieces of cake: enough for me and my family, and sometimes, enough to share with a friend. But I hope next month I’ll get a job so I’ll have enough to contribute to the Wordbuilders.
    I saw several posts on your blog about Wordbuilders but I had no idea what it was … until now. And now that I know what you do, I want to participate. And what you do is not only help a person briefly: but give to many people a chance to live better. And pass this gratitude and kindness to others.
    This entire text was only to thank you, Pat. The hope you gave me now, hope to make someone else’s life better. And as a thank you, I’ll be part of Wordbuiders. I’ll help.

  48. AndrewTheGreek
    Posted January 20, 2014 at 11:20 AM | Permalink

    Hi,

    I’m new to all this, could anyone tell me how to donate?

    Andrew

  49. abodenha
    Posted January 20, 2014 at 11:32 AM | Permalink

    Thanks for sharing this Pat. It’s exactly what I needed to read this morning.

    I was working a charity event yesterday (FIRST Lego League). The day ran long and all of the little annoyances of an event like that just piled on. By the end of the day I was questioning why I was doing it and whether I wanted to come back next year…

    ..but I still have cake to share.

  50. Soren
    Posted January 20, 2014 at 11:43 AM | Permalink

    Oh, and I’ve just read that you would like to know our ideas for future stretch goals.
    Well, the stretch of Brandon, doing it yourselve (In youtube, if possible), would be a veeery good idea, I think!

  51. justme007
    Posted January 20, 2014 at 12:55 PM | Permalink

    The cake analogy is a great one. If you eat one piece of cake, you’re probably pretty happy afterwards. Sometimes you’re feeling pretty good after that second piece, too. But when you eat the whole cake, you don’t even enjoy it anymore. (We once had half of one of those big grocery store sheet cakes left over at work, and someone made a bet that he could eat all of it. He failed, and ended up in a moaning ball under a desk.)

  52. AuthorRockyPerry
    Posted January 20, 2014 at 1:52 PM | Permalink

    At the risk of pissing off Pat and Wil Wheaton and all the fan who love this blog and them, I want to be honest.

    I am a giving guy, but this blog just makes me bitter and upset.

    It is so hard to hear about other authors having so much money when you can’t pay bills on time. It is so frustrating listening them go on about how much good they are doing, when they wouldn’t give 8 bucks to buy your book or consider helping you out.

    And my “you”, I don’t just mean me. I mean the thousand of hard working writers I see at conventions and stores across the country hoping someone will look at their work and share in their story.

    I get it. I love this blog. I have tears and I have compassion. I would even give, if I had anything to give.

    I just feel like I should be able to say, I am jealous. I am bitter. I am sad. My fingers bleed from work that harvest little.

    I wish Pat luck and more readers. I don’t hold a grudge over this. but I hope the internet as room for a pity party.

    Rocky Perry

    • simcha
      Posted January 21, 2014 at 2:13 PM | Permalink

      I am a first-time poster, but I’ve been a reader for some time. So while you are certainly entitled to your feelings, I am pretty sure that Pat’s intent was not to gloat about the number of cakes he has, about the amount of charity work he has done, or even to compare himself to other people or make anyone else feel inferior. In fact, I think his posts about Worldbuilders focus much more on thanking other people who have contributed to his charity and on rallying more support for Heifer than on patting himself on the back.

      Erg, did I really just type that? Sorry …

  53. hazydave
    Posted January 20, 2014 at 2:35 PM | Permalink

    Hey Pat…. haven’t read your books yet. I found this via a link from Wil Wheaton, and he rarely steers me wrong. This article convinced me I really ought to. Read your books, that is.

    I love the “Bilbo the fuck up” meme… hope it catches on. I’ve always felt it important to make the world, or even an accessible piece of it, a better place, much as possible. Sometimes that’s sending money, sometimes lending a hand, collecting food, building a thing, sometimes it’s just doing what’s right over what pays better.

    Fortunately, the two aren’t always mutually exclusive, and Isent a small piece of cake to Worldbuilders.

  54. Kirk
    Posted January 20, 2014 at 2:49 PM | Permalink

    I’m a 2+ cake guy right now. I’m also no Pat Rothfuss. I lean toward the Carnegie theory I’m not doling out a piece of cake here and there. I’m Hoping to amass enough cake to leave behind a bakery, a bakery that can keep making cakes after I’m gone. Who really cares if someone puts my name on the bakery? I don’t have legions of fans to draw upon, I also don’t mind stepping on the toes of my peers to advance my cause. I would hate to think my business practices make me a complete bastard, but if they do “Kirk’s Complete Bastard Bakery” works for me.

  55. Posted January 20, 2014 at 4:40 PM | Permalink

    You explain so what what I feel about money. People only need so much of it. The mental acrobatics people go through in order justifying keeping every possible penny is just disheartening. I’d like to think that if I were rich, I’d be different. I’d give most of it away and just keep what I need to live comfortably. (And it doesn’t take much.) So I love seeing someone who actually walks the walk. Aside from inspiring other people to donate, maybe one of your readers will choose to live like you when they finally make it big.

  56. Manda
    Posted January 20, 2014 at 5:25 PM | Permalink

    Thanks for this, Pat. I love Worldbuilders.

    When I visit your blog, I always feel like I’m stepping into this wonderful, geeky, giving-centered culture and it warms my heart.

    I gave to Worldbuilders last year, and I gave this year, and I’m going to give every year.

  57. amy010
    Posted January 20, 2014 at 6:39 PM | Permalink

    This post has been lingering in my subconscious since I read it yesterday. Right away, I shared it on my social networks. I wanted to give but held back, our income is already budgeted to the last penny. Still your words wouldn’t leave me alone.

    Today I decided to give your charity my slice of cake, in the form of my monthly coffee shop budget. Such a first-world sacrifice right??

    But I am a stay-at-home mom, and my coffee shop budget is my singular indulgence. I don’t do pedicures, massages, hair treatments, or have a million pairs of shoes and my clothes are shabby. I just have a rich cup of coffee now and then. That is what my meager $20 gift to your charity represents, one month of one mom’s indulgence.

    I’m happy to do it.

    Thanks Pat for all you do to make the world a little less brutal for these kids, who need a lot more than a cup of overpriced coffee.

  58. AtheistPreacher
    Posted January 21, 2014 at 1:18 AM | Permalink

    I really love your cake analogy. It’s a pretty great fit that’s also funny and disarming.

    It’s always struck me as insane when people accrue tens of millions of dollars and then just sit on it. I mean, I understand the desire to be comfortably rich, to not have to worry about money ever again. But at some point you just have more than you can possibly spend in your lifetime. Even if you want to make your kids comfortable, at some point you’re just being a jerk about it.

    I’d like to think that if I came into a lot of money, I’d be giving a lot back. But money tends to change people, and I can never really know for sure until it actually happened to me. But it warms my heart to know that you’re one of those people for a fact, Pat.

  59. alanharthun
    Posted January 21, 2014 at 9:46 AM | Permalink

    I understand the “I earned it” attitude, and it seems to me that it comes from a culture that encourages ignorance. In the US, its uncommon to see even the homeless starve to death. We have so much available.
    I saw some things when I went on Army relief missions that redifined what hitting bottom is. Places where young children are getting aids because pleasing an evil man is the only way to eat. I can’t even comprehend what its like to be in that position. So I give what I can. If even one family or baby makes it one minute longer, I support that.
    I have faith that an act of kindness will perpetuate, so even if some acts of charity fail or turn out worse than intended, the whole world ends off better for somebody. I’m just fine with that.

  60. imnosuperhero
    Posted January 22, 2014 at 7:02 AM | Permalink
  61. OneTwoMany
    Posted January 22, 2014 at 4:11 PM | Permalink

    I bring a slightly different perspective on this, and thought I’d share it with the group.

    1) The goal is to maximize dollar contributions to Heifer International, right? With that in mind, why would anyone question the motives or beliefs of the donors (e.g., 17 sharder) or perhaps more importantly, of potential donors on this board? What is there to gain from this? Perhaps a feeling of moral superiority, but that’s about it; I would argue that you’re shooting yourself in the foot. I doubt you’ll change anyone’s views on charity; you may very well dissuade a future donor from making a contribution; and you may discourage people like 17th sharder from donating again. I humbly submit that the recipients of Worldbuilders’/ Heifer’s fundraising efforts could give a rat’s ass whether the help comes from someone with millions in the bank or virtually nothing.

    2) The “donate now” vs. “accumulate and donate later” issue is far from black and white. Sure, there are folks that fit the robber baron mold. But please bear in mind that there are plenty of counterexamples. Would anyone seriously question the motives of Bill & Melinda Gates, who are spending literally tens of billions of dollars and most of their waking hours to help the poorest people in the world (PS, who do you think would be more capable than Gates to allocate the funds)? How about Warren Buffett, who has also gifted tens of billions to the poorest people in the world? How about Gordon Moore, the billionaire environmentalist? George Soros? Peter Lynch and Joel Greenblatt, who are out to revolutionize public education? Chuck Feeney who gave away every penny of his fortune? Guys like Buffett and Soros would argue (credibly, in my opinion) that their chief talent lies in allocating capital wisely, and that by deferring the bulk of the charitable donation, they maximize the impact of the gift. Now if you don’t have the ability to grow it, that’s one thing, but Buffett and Soros historically have generated investment returns (20%+ per year) that would cause the gift to DOUBLE about every 3.5 years. From their perspective, it made every bit of sense to defer the major donation, while helping in relatively smaller ways in the interim.

    My point is a simple one– be careful about painting with a broad brush. There are folks out there with the best of intentions that simply have a different approach. And be thankful and supportive to anyone who donates…

    Pat, Amanda, et al… keep up the great work!

  62. Posted January 23, 2014 at 1:58 PM | Permalink

    Yeah, yeah, I know I’m late, as usual.

    First of all I want to make you know that I deeply admire you. I don’t want to bore you, so I’m skipping the first time I read The Name of the Wind, and the second one, and so.

    Not only you are a great writer but a great (and caring) human being. I’m terribly sorry that I can’t contribute more with your crusade against the dragons at this time, but I want to be a part of this movement.

    I just finished my first book a few months ago, and now I’m studying for my middle test and working my ass to pay the loan, and looking for a publisher. But if someday I become a writer, I mean, a serious one, one that can publish his books and that kind of stuff, my original goal is to help the helpless. Like you, I don’t want to eat my cake alone, I’m willing to share it so it taste better.

    When I was doing my pilgrimage to Santiago de Compostela, I met an irish architect, and while we were walking together we discussed about how we can contribute to this world. I’m looking to the future we can build, to the world we are going to build.

    Well, all of this is to say thank you. Thank you for being a good reference for your readers, and thank you for trying to make a better world of this rotten land.

    And lastly, if you are reading this I want to apologize for my grammar, I’m Spaniard and writting in english is a bit hard for me.

  63. canidaean
    Posted January 25, 2014 at 4:25 PM | Permalink

    Can someone explain how seemingly rational people can claim that state and federal tax money paid by citizens to their government is the same thing as charity? I’m astonished that this claim has gone virtually unchallenged here. Also, that taxation results in/is the same as socialism? These assumptions are certainly worth unpacking and looking at more closely.

  64. ThreeGaysAndaPizzaPlace
    Posted January 26, 2014 at 3:29 PM | Permalink

    I am still amazed that Patrick had to write a post explaining what selfishness is. But you are doing God’s work on that front.

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