The Potato Salad Society

Some dude posted a Kickstarter asking for $10 to make a potato salad. “It might not be that good. It’s my first potato salad,” he wrote. Thousands of backers gave him tens of thousands of dollars. Meanwhile, worthier Kickstarter projects -€” and charities -€” go unfunded. Most of the potato salad supporters wouldn’t give anything to help refugees in South Sudan.

10 thoughts on “The Potato Salad Society

  1. First time caller, long-time listener.

    An alternative read is that charity is a stupid way to fund important projects. That there are people that will give to a joke, but not a homeless guy is disturbing, sure, but I’d hate to see a world where we couldn’t donate to or buy ridiculous stuff privately until all the world’s problems were met. We’re not talking professional sports , multi-billion dollar Olympic-style circuses here – big pots of resources that could do some good if employed elsewhere – just some people getting off on giving to a guy for the sheer pleasure of it. A drop in the bucket – though perhaps as you imply there may be something to the argument that we are growing callous.

    The fact that refugee groups, disaster victims, hospitals, public schools or heck, even the local philharmonic has to beg for money is absurd , but I don’t know if I’d pit that against some schmuck getting a giggle out of posting about a potato salad. Some things are just fun for fun’s sake. Hopefully someday all the people of the world will be free to post ridiculous stuff on the internet.

    To augment my point I’m giving five bucks to your site (don’t worry my Red Cross support is unaffected). Also, love your books and work. I read a ton of the Afghanistan stuff as an anti-war organizer years ago and learned a lot.

    • Good points, deadduck ! I’d argue that Ted’s cartoon is a success, as it does get us thinking about some of the more absurd elements in our daily lives in this, the latter age of mankind….


  2. While I appreciate the almost name-drop, I don’t think its safe to assume at all that few of the potato salad supporters would give anything to save the refugees in South Sudan. I think its a prejudiced, stereotypical assumption that makes you just sound like a broken man who is exceedingly bitter that the last couple of his own Kickstarters were ultimately rejected by the free market.

    • Whimsical, to me you sound just like a broken man who is exceedingly bitter that his comments on Ted’s threads are rejected and rebuffed by all other participants….


      • I, too, would like to see one, mein geschätzter Lehrer ! Perhaps Ted can be convinced ?… 😉


  3. Well, here’s the question: Are there any kickstarter campaigns to help South Sudan?

    Kickstarter’s search function returns 13 South Sudan projects. Of those, only one mentions actually feeding refugees. And that was the brainchild of a recent high school graduate. Thank God, it failed. The last thing the world needs is one more starry-eyed simpleton going halfway around the world to be raped and murdered 20 minutes after getting off the plane. Dear Lord, save me from the wisdom of teenagers, amen.

    All the other Kickstarter efforts were of the “I want to take my cameras and document what’s going on” variety. One wild spirit wanted to build a recording studio.

    Eight of the Kickstarter items failed to get financing. Five did get financing: all were documentarians.

    The big question now is this: Why do we need documentaries about South Sudan? Is the “truth” not getting out? Is there no footage already? Kickstarter, clearly, exists for the same purpose as most things on the Internet: It provides a playground for privileged, mostly white, first-worlders to avoid dealing with the realities of the world. Any “good’ that gets done is purely an accidental byproduct.

    Now, everyone, it’s a beautiful day. I want you all to get outside and mindlessly buy products. Go directly to the nearest Walmart or Target and spend more than you have available. I want those credit cards a-swiping. And on the way home, I want everyone whispering: “Global warming is a myth. Evolution is bunk. Vaccines are evil. If I see anything on the news that alarms me or upsets me, I will simply keep clicking until I find something mindless and safe. I am American, and it’s my right to ignore anything I don’t like.”


  4. The ongoing tragedies of our age are not real to the dominant privileged mindset and so can barely be dealt with at all, much less with any but desperately dark humor.

    So we, as a species, are fated to laugh till we die. Really.

    So party like Hitler and Eva in their bunker as the Soviet army closed in, and cyanide capsules were the popped pills of choice.

    So let’s bring on the booze and have a ball.

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