I feel I can't ignore this for too long or I completely forget about it, the mark of a completely amateurish half-hearted person (Some might boldly claim "Writer", if they were feeling reckless to a degree as yet unrecorded by science), so I bring you essentially an interim report whilst I struggle to consider topics for another post.
I could discuss the election, and the pressing urgency that no-one vote Conservative, but since I'm Scottish, I feel this would be a moot point, and since I've read a bit about the election (Just a tad, it's tucked away in the back pages of the papers, except the Sun, which will doubtless stitch up Nick Clegg like a kipper on the front covers), I assume you have too, and thus, my ill-informed opinion will be useless to you.
So I've opted to write about Charity. "Charity?" I hear you question through the medium (pun not intended, noticed, and left in) of psychic powers, "Charity? But surely, charity is the cornerstone of society, lending a helping hand to those who need it most. You couldn't possibly say anything different about charity without sounding both Scrooge-like and alarmingly dismissive of proles", because you like to cast me fondly in your mind as an aloof character, spending my time between hunting and shooting crushing the hopes of commoners (Insert Conservative MP joke).
To put your mind at ease, and to teach you for jumping to conclusions, I'm not going to badmouth charity, it is, as you said yourself, one of the cornerstones of society. I merely question its methodology, and I was inspired by the recent London Marathon, which essentially involved a collection of people dressing up like fools, and running for charity. Sounds pleasant enough, but I query the fact these people have to dress up as a rhino, then run 26 miles, before you will donate to their charity. I imagine, of course, that it's to show some level of self-sacrifice by the people asking you for money.
"Oi, Dave!" I hear my fictional character Jim yell down the "Local boozer", "Dave, I'm runnin' the London marafon!", and then Dave turns his head and goes "Yeah?" and Jim goes "Yeah! Dave, you couldn't give us a quid for the starvin' kids of Africa, could you, eh?" and Dave, in front of the entire pub, can either go "No." and seem like a heartless git to everyone there and never function normally down there again, eventually having to move pubs and uproot his entire family to move in a different borough, but he'll tell "the wife" it's for the schools, but it's just because no-one in his local likes him. Or he could say "Yeah, sure, course Jim, you only have to ASK!", and be bonded to everyone at the local at a great financial cost, coming home drunk to his wife, who can't pay the bills, and getting kicked out. Homeless, he asks Jim for a place to stay for a while, and eventually leaves Linda for a younger woman, and everyone thinks he's a git for trading in his wife for a "Newer model".
Either way, Dave loses. And I like Dave. I don't want to see him in distress. Why would you force this on Dave?
I'll happily donate to charity for nothing more than the warm-hearted, benevolent image I work tirelessly to maintain, but I'm unlikely to do so because Jim's dressing up as a cat and jogging round a bit. Jim, if I was going to give to Oxfam, I already would have.
So in summary, give money to charity, don't trust people who do silly things in exchange for money for charity, it's essentially a medium of guilting you into it. "I'm running a marathon and you can't even give ONE pound, you heartless old Scrooge!", despite the fact I have no spare money because I'm spending it at the charity shops.
On a lighter note, charity shops are an excellent place to pick up cheap books and DVDs. If you want something to read, I can highly recommend buying a book, and then reading it and giving it back. It's like a library you donate money to charity for every time you use it. Magnificent.