Monday, December 08, 2003
How Much Is That Celebrity in the Window?
I saw this article today at the LA Times about the perqs celebrities get for appearing at charity events. Pretty sweet deal. And I suppose this is above and beyond call girls and call boys.
I'm not sure how I feel about this. On the one hand, I love to see the celebrities squirm at the appearance of impropriety. And I don't care to see the beneficiaries of charities get screwed. But, then again, charities are often terribly inefficient at getting money to their beneficiaries so it's hard to see this as that much worse. Charities have to look at this as an investment and evaluate the costs and benefits. If they don't spend $53,000 on David Schwimmer, do they collect whatever amount they raised?
Would it be better if the celebrities did not receive these gifts? Sure. Would it be nice if some of them weren't so obnoxious about it? You bet. But, price is a rationing mechanism. I'm sure these folks get hit up for a lot of celebrity events. They have jobs and don't have the time to learn about every single charity in the world to know whether it's well run. Also, the nature of their jobs implies huge opportunity costs. When you make $26 million a year working on a t.v. show plus all the media junkets and inane questions from Pat O'Brien, you probably value your free time a lot more than other people. To get them to take a personal night off (or give up some commercial opportunity), you have to pay. And you have to decide if it's worth it to your organization. If you don't want to pay, come up with a better pitch that will appeal to their sense of decency or find different celebrities who will listen.
The people who are the true whores in this situation I think are the rich donors who will only donate the money if they get to rub elbows with celebrities. I don't know what fraction of the donor population this is in terms of numbers, but I bet it's a large fraction of the total amount donated.
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