You’ve all seen charity auctions in which the high bidder gets lunch with a celebrity or a round of golf with a famous business person, or something along those lines. I have a better idea: The Coercive Charity Auction.
The idea is that any individual can create a charity auction online that involves a famous person – but here’s the great part – WITHOUT the approval of the famous person. The idea is to create such high bids that the famous person is put in an awkward position of either accepting the deal or allowing an African village to starve, just to pick one example.
The second difference from traditional auctions is that bids would be cumulative, not individual. Your bid would be added to my bid and everyone else’s bid. There’s almost no limit to how high a bid might go.
Now here’s the genius part: Instead of lunch with a celebrity, or golf, or something the celebrity might actually enjoy, the Coercive Charity Auction would focus on activities the celebrity would hate to do. That’s what gets the auction bids so high.
For example, an individual might start an auction requesting Donald Trump to shave his head. Trump wouldn’t want to do that, obviously. But after a million people conditionally agree to donate ten dollar apiece toward curing some childhood disease, or delivering fresh water for Sudan, it will become increasingly awkward for Trump to say no. He’d be forced into it by the weight of public opinion. And if not, it would still be entertaining to make him explain in every interview why he lets people die for the sake of a haircut.
Obviously most of the auctions would be so unreasonable that no one could expect the celebrity to comply. On day one you’d see a Coercive Charity Auction for Cancer research that asks Jennifer Aniston and Angelina Jolie to make out on live TV. It’s unlikely they would agree. But what if ten million people offer $10 apiece? Could they still say no and deny $100 million to charity?
This plan is diabolical – I know. That’s what would make it so popular. It cleverly mixes humanity’s worst instincts with their most noble charitable instincts. That sort of freak show would be hard to ignore.
Some of you will be quick to point out that I would become a victim of my own idea. The first auction created would ask me to eat a dog turd to benefit a women’s shelter. But I will argue that my contribution to the world involved thinking up this Coercive Charity Auction concept, so I have already achieved moral sufficiency.