Foreword Communications

Tuesday, September 9, 2008

Freelancing Doesn’t Mean Free

 

I’m a freelance writer. Now, that job title has never earned the respect that it deserves but, in this day and age of outsourcing and working virtually, being a freelance writer appears to signify to many buyers that one’s services are to be had at a very low cost.  One has to wonder why.

 

One of the biggest challenges facing freelance writers today, especially those of us who provide services online, is outsourcing.  Although a global economy is certainly down the road, for now, the field is divided into Western workers and non-Western workers. What I mean is that an economy is not competitive if the wages required to live in one economy are vastly different from those required to live in another. 

 

Yes, I’m talking specifically about the outsourcing of jobs – writing jobs, customer service jobs, assembly jobs, whatever – to countries such as India, Pakistan, etc.  Look, the reality is that making five dollars an hour in India is like making $50 an hour here in the U.S.  We just can’t compete.  Not because we don’t want to, but because we simply can’t.  I’ve been involved in many a debate about how American writers charge too much for their services as compared with offshore providers, but that’s a rant for another day. 

 

The plain truth is that American workers literally can’t work for $5 an hour.  That’s less than minimum wage and will earn us a nice cardboard box under a bridge somewhere.  It’s not a realistic wage for this country.  It is however, a realistic wage for someone living in a nation where the average annual wage is well under $2,000.00 a year!  Heck, $2,000.00 a year won’t even keep gas in the minivan, let alone pay for food, clothing, housing, utilities, etc.  What buyers of freelance services need to ask themselves is, can they live on less than $2,000.00 a year?  Can they live on what they expect to pay a freelancer?  If the answer is no, then we probably can’t either.

 

And, even if a buyer’s financial needs are met through outsourcing, their project needs rarely are.  Look, I applaud anyone trying to make a living, but ya just can’t write effectively to an American audience if your first language isn’t English.  As a matter of fact, quality (language or production) is one of the biggest barriers to outsourcing in any industry.  Personally, as someone who pays dearly for the products and services I receive, I hate it when I have to contact customer service and deal with someone who doesn’t understand what I’m saying and who I can’t understand either.  It’s unpleasant, and the entire experience leaves me feeling as if my business is not valued.  After all, if I pay good money for something, shouldn’t I receive a quality product with quality customer service – not merely service and production that has been outsourced to the lowest bidder?

 

Buyers who don’t think that their target audience notices their lack of dedication to their own projects are simply kidding themselves.  As I surf the web, I catch all of the spelling, grammar, and syntax errors made by writers who are either unprofessional or not English-speaking.  It’s noticeable, it’s annoying, and buyers who think that the American public – the paying American public – doesn’t just surf off to another site when we are insulted in this way need to think again.  In essence, if you want to appear professional – an expert in your field (whatever service or product you sell or promote) – you need a professional writer to help you.  If you don’t invest in yourself and your image – it shows.

 

Another huge challenge facing American freelance writers are books and ebooks that are being marketed to a cash-strapped public with empty promises of helping readers earn millions from home and accessing services for cheap.  Several of these marketing manuals insist that virtual freelancers are to be had for pennies and that anyone can work as a writer.  The only people getting rich from these ideas are the ones selling these books/ebooks.  The public is shelling out their hard-earned cash on a pack of lies.  Virtual freelancers are not cheap – at least quality ones (for all of the reasons detailed above) and you’re not going to make a million dollars as a freelance writer. 

 

Unfortunately, many people who have snagged one of these books/ebooks as a do-all-tell-all into the freelancing industry approach freelancing, freelance writers, and their own projects as if they’ve found the fountain of youth or something equally elusive.  The old adages, “nothing in life is free” and “you get what you pay for” hold just as true in freelancing as they do in any industry.  The average professional freelancer is a bit insulted when approached to write for $5 a page.  Since one page of good writing takes at least one hour to produce, such an offer makes our jaws drop and our hair stand on end.  Yet, the authors of the books and ebooks that indicate that ALL freelancers work for such wages continue to pull the wool over the eyes of buyers worldwide. 

 

Look, here’s the way it is – freelancing isn’t free.  If you want to purchase work for way under market freelancing rates, be prepared to deal with the fallout, i.e., poor writing, work that is copied and pasted directly from another (copyrighted) source, writing that sounds like it’s been written by a third grader, etc. 

 

Writing that has to be rewritten or that is completely unusable is no bargain.  Pay for quality work the first time around and you’ll save money in the long run.

 

 

 

But, I don’t have all the answers either.

 

©2008 ForeWORD Communications    

All Rights Reserved

 

ForeWORD Communications

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Tuesday, July 15, 2008

The Ugly American: Are We Really Any Uglier Than Everyone Else?

Ok, so bright and early this morning I had a discussion with a European-based buyer about how American freelance writers gripe about the low rates that the market is currently paying primarily because of the influx of writers from developing countries.  For internet writers, the globalization of freelancing has resulted in competing against writers who are able to charge a mere $2-ish an hour.  In this country, that wage would qualify you for food stamps – no, homelessness!

 

And, have you seen the work of these so-called writers?!  Horrors!  Just surf the web and you’ll find an internet crammed full of content that is plagiarized, grammatically incorrect, rife with spelling errors, and completely lacking in any real ability to speak to the audience.  Their grades in school may have reflected a relatively solid understanding of the English language, but, linguistically, they fall so far short of making the grade, it’s frustrating.

 

But, let’s stop here for a minute.  Before I’m accused of being exactly what I hate, I don’t begrudge anyone the right to make a living.  All I’m saying is that, if you can’t compete, don’t lower the bar for everyone else.  For instance, I’m not a huge fan of women firefighters or overweight policemen.  I believe that every job has a certain minimum standard that has to be met for the job to be done properly.  If you can’t meet that standard, don’t expect the industry to lower the minimum standard to accommodate you.  Does this mean that no woman can be a great firefighter or that an overweight policeman can’t do his job?  Not at all.  It just means that, if the male firefighters are expected to lift 250 pounds, the women had better be able to do it too.  And, if that overweight policeman can huff his way through a back-alley foot chase, more power to him.  But, no special dispensations; find another job, if you’re not willing to adhere to the minimum standards.  After all, I wouldn’t try to get a job as a nurse without the right skills, would I?

 

Now, back to that buyer who has a problem with paying a fair wage.  His rantings about how Americans only complain when something affects them and how Americans expect the rest of the world to kowtow to them reminded me of the age-old, and significantly overdone, rant about the Ugly American.

 

Sure, there is such a thing as the Ugly American, but there are Ugly British, Ugly Germans, and Ugly French too.  The ugliness of the tourist is common throughout the world.  Just ask anyone in the hospitality industry.  Still, that whole Ugly American thing has always bothered me.  It’s as if we’ve been held up as an example of everything that’s wrong with politics, economics, morals – everything!  Like we’re a bunch of whiny two-year-olds.

 

But, hey, we are a bunch of whiny two-year-olds!

 

The United States is only a little over 230 years old.  Old for a person, but a babe-in-the-woods compared to other countries.  The UK, Germany, France, Italy, etc. are old-timers compared to us.  And, like any toddler, we are testing the limits and pushing the boundaries.  We make bad decisions and end up paying for them.  And we stomp our feet when we don’t get our way.  We’re not ugly, we’re inexperienced!  Newbies in the global community.

 

And, this is different from everyone else how?

 

Actually, we Americans are no different from anyone else.  We’re just newer at it.  Remember when Rome controlled most of the world?  How about when England and Spain battled over the very grounds we live on.  And, speaking of England, didn’t they have colonies all over the world at one point?  Remember South Africa and apartheid?  Guess they were pretty ugly too, huh?  The only difference is that, now, it’s ok to speak out against a nation’s need to spread its wings, whereas, back in the days of the Tudor’s, it would have gotten you beheaded.

 

Still, we Americans are pretty stupid.  We just bounce gleefully along until we get ourselves into a whole heap of trouble.  Wanna come live here?  Ok, no problem.  All are welcome.  Now there are so many immigrants in the US that we’re arguing over official languages, arguing about what to do about illegal immigrants, and bending backward so far we can kiss our own you-know-whats.  Other, more established nations don’t have this problem; nor do developing third-world countries.  If you’re an illegal immigrant in the UK, you can kiss your butt goodbye.  If you go to France and don’t speak the language, do ya think they’re gonna make new walk/don’t walk signs just for you?  I don’t think so. And, China and Japan, well, they don’t let anyone in to just wander around like they’re free or something.

 

So, what does the Ugly American complain about?  The same stuff that developing – yes, in the larger scheme of things, we’re still developing – nations throughout time have complained about; the right to make a living, secure our boundaries, and be a recognized player in the global community.  Sometimes our complaints are focused inward (Rhett, whatever will I do without my servants!) and sometimes outward (How do we compete against third-world countries in the distribution of goods and services?), but they’re the same complaints that every other, much older, nation has already experienced.  Remember the hard time that England went through when they didn’t know where’d they get their tea?  How about when Rome couldn’t draw from a pool of captured slaves for servants – ok, Rome fell, so maybe that’s not a good example.  Either way, you get my point; the US is experiencing a host of growing pains; pains which most of Europe has already outgrown and most of the still-developing nations have yet to experience.

 

So, get off your Ugly American high-horse and recognize that Americans are just a few centuries behind the rest of the world.  Someday, we’ll put drastic limits on immigration, hunt down and deport illegals, require that the citizenship test be completed in English only, and stop rewarding our own corporations with tax breaks for outsourcing and leaving our own citizens jobless.  After all, isn’t that what everyone else does?

 

 

 

I don’t have all the answers either.

 

©2008 ForeWORD Communications    

All Rights Reserved

 

For intelligent writing solutions for your business, visit my website at www.forewordcommunications.com

 

ForeWORD Communications – Freelance Writing Services
Intelligent Writing Solutions for Individuals and Businesses

Articles – eBooks – eCourses – White Papers – Web Page Content – Etc.


Email: forewordcom@aol.com

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Friday, June 27, 2008

Transnational Gangs: How have gangs gone global? How does immigration facilitate the international spread of gangs?

The United States is not the only nation that has seen the proliferation of street gangs in recent decades. However, the explosion of street gang activity in other nations can, at least partially, be traced back to the U.S., where many of these foreign gang members receive their training and internship. Individuals who make their living through criminal activity cycle in and out of the United States and take back to their own country, or another country altogether, more criminal skills and network contacts than they left with.

Although there are many reasons why gangs have gone global, one of the main sources of their education comes from time spent in the U.S. Individuals enter the country either with some criminal skills already present or with the predilection toward criminal activity, and through their initiation into the U.S. crime world, they increase their skills and criminal contacts. If the individual is arrested for such activity, he or she may be deported back to his country of origin, taking everything he has learned with him, including the many contacts he has made, which, in many cases, are drug related. The United States deports thousands of individuals each year for participating in criminal activity making this a major source of the global gang member pool.

Another reason for the global spread of street gangs can be traced to the media representation and glamorization of the gang member stereotype. As far back as the many Hollywood pictures of James Dean as the romantic and misunderstood hoodlum, American culture has inadvertently idolized the gang member. What was once present only in the movies and American novels has spread to the internet and into popular music further widening the reach of the gang mystique. Interestingly, the gang members that are created by such methods probably wouldn’t even be familiar with the terms globalization or transnational, nor would they likely care. Even more interesting is the fact that these romanticized images in no way reflect the realities of gang life, which is another fact that up and coming gang members don’t know about, but probably wouldn’t care to know either since the goal is not to become one of the criminal element that lives in squalor and deals with the day to day avoidance of arrest. The idealized image of the successful criminal as having a garage full of flashy cars and a stable full of women is the image that these individuals strive for.

It is also likely that the majority of the globalization of gangs is due simply to the move toward an increasingly globalized world. As world travel became easier, and the spread of national cultures became more prevalent, it was inevitable that the movement of individuals would signal the spread of the good and the bad, including gang mentality, culture, and activity. Some of these gangs operate as a part of criminal networks and others operate independently using what they have learned in the states as a basis for their activities.

Gangs were once formed by a group of individuals who were generally short-term, temporary members. The average gang member was usually a young man who joined the gang as a sort of rite of passage. Most of these members would eventually outgrow the gang. However, in recent decades, gang activity has taken on a whole new meaning with individuals becoming more permanent members of a gang and more entrenched in gang life and gang activities. Women are becoming more involved in gangs. And the gang has become more of an organization unto itself with members as employees and the spread into the whole of the U.S. and numerous foreign countries.

Still, for the most part, it is not the gangs themselves that have gone international but the gang persona or mentality. The phenomena of the globalization of gangs has occurred because the gang culture has spread via the media, and, most importantly, the migration of individual gang members. As previously mentioned, the individual gang members takes what he has learned and incorporates it into gang activities in another country. Gang activity in the United States has increased more than four hundred percent since the 1970’s, and gang activity has been reported in such countries as France, Germany, Canada, Japan, England, Mexico and South Africa, to name only a few. It used to be said that gangs migrated in order to find new members and to acquire additional territory. However, although this does still happen occasionally, it is now thought that the international spread of gangs did not result from any intentional plan, but rather as an unintended result of the migration of individual gang members.

The international trend of gang migration has followed a similar pattern as that which has heralded the spread of gangs in the United States itself. Gangs were once a localized phenomenon. However, as the members of the gang migrated, ironically sometimes in order to get away from the gang itself, the gang member formed a new gang in the new location. At first, these new gangs were not offshoots of the former gang, but were new outfits altogether. Once gangs realized the benefits of forming actual networks of gangs and gang members, gangs went national, and then, inevitably, international. There is little difference between the international spread of gangs and the phenomenon of the spread of gangs within the United States. The majority of this type of international spread has occurred mainly among the Hispanic and Asian migrants. These former U.S. gang members then act as a connection between the new gang and the old gang back in the U.S.

Many countries report that it is these deported gang members who are linking up with other deported gang members that are responsible for the dramatic increase of gang related crime. Many of these countries are not equipped to deal with gang activity and have found that there has been a significant increase of violent crime in their nations. Some of these gang members continue to move illegally back and forth between countries transporting people and goods. This is especially prevalent between the United States and South America. It is interesting how, in an effort to decrease gang related crime in its own country, the United States has been largely responsible for the spread of gang activity into other nations. Unlike the media, such as movies and music, the U.S. policy of deporting those immigrants that have been found to be involved in gang-related crimes has spread the gangs themselves from a once relatively segregated phenomenon into a global problem. Gangs now have initiated internationally available websites that are complete with gang mottos, symbols, bylaws, and pictures. This new form of gang communication has become as complex as the internet technology that supports it. However, such communication is reserved for the privileged few gangs that can afford it. For the most part, gangs are a non-technical network of criminal activity; some far more profitable than others, but almost all of them violent. For most gangs, the best technology they can access is the cellular phone, but this method of communication has been sufficient enough to spread crime, including murder and drugs, across the nation.

Globalization has resulted in a number of modern phenomena, both positive and negative. As gang-related activity is known to occur as a result of the disenfranchisement of a particular group of individuals, the global disenfranchisement of particular groups of individuals is likely to result in the proliferation of international gang activity. Such activity can be evidenced in the spread of terrorist organizations such as Al Qaeda. Some of the international members of Al Qaeda have been solicited and others have joined the organization without any group invitation. The spread of gangs on a global scale can be seen in the same way and may, eventually, operate on the same scale.

 

I don’t have all the answers either.

 

 

 

©2008 ForeWORD Communications    

All Rights Reserved

 

For intelligent writing solutions for your business, visit my website at www.forewordcommunications.com

 

ForeWORD Communications – Freelance Writing Services
Intelligent Writing Solutions for Individuals and Businesses

Articles – eBooks – eCourses – White Papers – Web Page Content – Etc.


Email: forewordcom@aol.com

Webpage: www.forewordcommunications.com

 

Copyright © 2008 ForeWORD Communications.  All Rights Reserved.

Sunday, June 22, 2008

The Eco-Labeling Regulation of 1992

Filed under: ENVIRONMENT, GLOBAL LIVING, GOING GREEN, NATURE — Tags: , , , — forewordcommunications @ 3:15 am

 

Since its inception in 1999, thirteen European countries have adopted the Euro as their national currency. In another well-discussed move that attempts to bond a common European market, the European Union, in the early 90’s, and prior to the adoption of the Euro, implemented the Eco-Labeling Regulation. This 1992 agreement states that member countries will implement a cohesive system of labeling ecologically friendly products and services in order to encourage a continent-wide, and possibly an eventual worldwide, definition of what is to be considered good for the future of the environment. 

The United Nations Commission on Sustainable Development (1999) defines Eco-Labeling as “a voluntary trademark that is awarded to products deemed to be less harmful to the environment than other products within the same category.” The idea is that an informed consumer will prefer to invest in products and services that make the best use of the environment. An “award” in the form of an official “flower” stamp that details one, two, or three of the requirements that the product has met to ensure that it is environmentally friendly. The European Parliament and the Council of the European Union has stated that “It is necessary to explain to consumers that the eco-label represents those products which have the potential to reduce certain negative environmental impacts, as compared with other products in the same product group, without prejudice to regulatory requirements applicable to products at a Community or a national level”. The Royal Society of Chemistry noted, in its 1998 document entitled Eco-Labeling: Life-Cycle Assessment In Action, that Eco-Labeling is a valid pursuit but argues that “the companies genuinely embracing eco-labeling will tend to be those with major market penetration and high brand status.” 

In May 1997, a report entitled The European Union Eco-Labeling Scheme for Textiles: Ecological Criteria for Bed Linen and T-Shirts, points out that Eco-Labeling will incur additional expenses for manufacturers and that many nations already have their own ecological stamps of approval in force that have been slow in catching on. Although the primary purpose of Eco-Labeling was to implement a cohesive strategy and definition of “green” products and services, many industries rejoiced at a European-wide set of standards and expressed disappointment that industry standards were being constantly redefined after they thought a definition had been reached via their own industry regulation councils.  

General concerns about the Eco-Labeling law include criteria subjectivity, financial cost of implementation, and discrimination against imported products that are similar and meet the Eco-Labeling criteria. One report calls Eco-Labeling “unrealistic”, and another defines Eco-Labeling as a failure while commending Germany’s Blue Angel label as being the best. This discussion also calls the Eco-Labeling process “lengthy” and “bureaucratic” and “political” and points out that politicians should not be making policy decisions on industry standards. 

The implementation of the European Union’s Eco-Labeling criteria has been slow and has met with some resistance, not from consumers, but from industry manufacturers and distributors. Complaints that the EU’s system is bogged down in bureaucratical intricacies and political negotiations have marred the scheme’s progress and acceptance. Industry leaders have expressed the very valid concern that their own governing organizations have spent years evaluating and developing the appropriate guidelines and procedures for application to their particular industry processes and that, since the inception of Eco-Labeling, politicians and other government officials are reevaluating and redefining these widely accepted industry standards. 

Important questions have arisen regarding the impartiality of the Eco-Labeling system as it is currently defined and why the Eco-Labeling system doesn’t more closely mirror successful established systems of environmental labeling already in place such as Germany’s Blue Angel system. The Eco-Labeling system also tends to ignore that these other systems would have to be scrapped and the Eco-Labeling system adopted by all European manufacturers for the system to be completely effective. 

Globalization of labeling guidelines for products and services is, in itself, a commendable idea. However, the reality of implementing a continent-wide strategy that has ignored the input and concerns of industry and trade leaders appears destined for failure. Consumers have, in recent years, become much more environmentally savvy and are open to purchasing more “green” products. Any effective Eco-Labeling criteria have to appeal to both the consumer and the industry that produces the targeted goods and/or services.

 

©2008 ForeWORD Communications     All Rights Reserved

 

For intelligent writing solutions for your business, visit my website at www.forewordcommunications.com

 

ForeWORD Communications
Intelligent Writing Solutions for Individuals and Businesses

Articles – eBooks – eCourses – White Papers – Web Page Content – Etc.

Email: forewordcom@aol.com

Webpage: www.forewordcommunications.com

 

Saturday, June 21, 2008

Biological Altruism: Are we Hard-Wired to Behave in a Socially Caring Manner or to Maximize Personal Gain

Filed under: FAMILY, GLOBAL LIVING, LIFE, MODERN LIVING, SELF-IMPROVEMENT — Tags: , , — forewordcommunications @ 2:55 am

 

There exists a current debate over whether behaving in a socially caring manner, or social altruism, is a learned behavior or whether human beings are hard wired, or genetically predisposed, to behave in such a way. There are surely rational arguments for each side. However, some studies indicate that altruism is indeed hard wired into the human brain as well as the brains of several other species. In essence, humans can’t help the urge to help. 

Social altruism is a form of behavior in which an individual places the needs or benefit of another over the needs or benefit of the self. The individual must give something of himself such as money or time, in order to have fulfilled the requirements for altruism. Essentially, by losing something, time or money, another person, or persons, gain something. It can be argued that altruistic behavior occurs out of a sense of duty or out of some sort of inner compassion, and the answer is both. Scientists have uncovered evidence that animals may behave in an altruistic manner. Animals such as birds and insects such as bees and ants have been shown to care for the young of their groups at the expense of their own good, and sometimes even their own lives. However, this type of altruism is clearly instinctual. 

Although human beings often behave in a way that places the needs of others before their own, scientists often call this pseudo-altruism because it mimics true or instinctual altruism. Human beings may also behave in a socially altruistic manner due to a connection between empathy and compassion. In other words, the human ability to imagine one’s self in the position of another (empathy) results in a feeling of mutual suffering (compassion). This form of compassionate social altruism is as close to instinctual altruism as humans can get, and is indeed hard wired. 

This ability to act on behalf of someone else in a similar manner as one would act toward one’s self is not merely a duty bound process. If this were true, there would not be so many instances of an instinctual-type of altruism amongst any number of animals, including humans. Science has used the explanations of kin selection and reciprocal altruism to explain altruism. The theory of kin selection as relating to altruism indicates that altruism assists in the perpetuation of the species genes. Science argues that the extension of altruistic behavior in animals exists because certain altruistic actions ensure that the species survives and passes along its genes. Additionally, the closer two organisms are related, the more likely it is that altruism will be considered. In essence, as altruism is defined as a cost to the altruistic organism and a benefit to the recipient, the closer the relative the more the altruistic behavior is seen as a greater benefit to the recipient and a lesser cost to the giver. Kin selection indicates that an organism is less likely to act in an altruistic manner towards non-kin as such acts do not ensure the natural selection of one’s own genes. 

Because evidence of kin selective altruistic behavior has been noted in animal species, science assumes that the behavior may be generalized to include human behavior as well. This theory however, does not however explain why, if humans are hardwired to behave in an altruistic manner only toward kin, humans will display altruistic behavior toward a spouse. In essence, if genetic strangers are at the bottom of the altruistic chain, then humans should display altruistic behavior toward a spouse no more often than they would a complete stranger. It is, however, interesting to note that proponents of kin selection also include everyone in a general area as being members of one’s kin. One can assume that kin selection favors how human society views itself as a social entity. Since one’s society could be assumed to consist of the whole of one’s kin, the theory would preclude that an individual’s altruistic behavior would extend to all members of the human society, i.e., the entire world. Kin-based systems require little thought and may be a stepping stone to other forms of altruistic behavior. 

Reciprocal altruism, much like the evolutionary ideology of kin selection, also has its roots in an organism’s self interest. Reciprocal altruism assumes that an organism engages in an altruistic act because that organism will receive a similar consideration at some point in the future; a kind of quid pro quo. In this kind of altruism, the giving organism does so knowing that the balance of altruistic behavior will remain unequal until that organism’s altruistic behavior has been reciprocated. In other words, the theory of reciprocal altruism indicates that both the giver and the receiver realize that, over time, the benefits outweigh the costs of the altruistic acts so that, in the end, both the giver and the receiver realize a net gain. Although the giver will not realize any immediate benefits from his altruistic act, the understanding is that there will definitely be something in it for him, if not now or in his lifetime, then for his descendents or relatives. 

Reciprocal altruism asserts that, for an altruistic act to be completely reciprocal, there must be some cost to the giver and some benefit to the recipient, the altruistic act must be performed contingent upon the presumption of receiving something in return, and there must be a separation between the individual’s altruistic act and the receiving back of a benefit. This type of altruism is marked by indirect benefits that are presumed to be received over a period of time and not immediately. Additionally, reciprocal altruism is a risky venture as the giver must trust that the recipient will indeed reciprocate and that, if the recipient fails to do so, that organism will be subject to any number of social sanctions. Unlike kin-based altruism, reciprocal altruism allows for a sort of altruism exchange or social surplus of altruism and assumes more than mere cooperation. In essence, reciprocal altruism indicates that human beings operate in a cooperative manner with each other because there is an equal likelihood that he or she may, throughout the span of a lifetime, be equally able to give and also in need. Using the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina as an example, if, for instance, one segment of a society, in this instance those affected by the hurricane find themselves in a situation where they are low on, or devoid of resources, then reciprocal altruism dictates that the segment of the society that posses resources, in this instance those not affected by the hurricane, will share the resources with those who need them regardless of the pinch in their own resources that may occur as a result, and with the understanding that the recipient, in this case the victims of the hurricane, will reciprocate in some way in the future. 

Reciprocal altruism assumes that the organisms involved in the transaction will remain familiar for a period of time sufficient to realize a return on the giver’s investment and assumes that, should the transaction go awry, i.e., that the recipient fails to reciprocate, the giver has sufficient social status to initiate some form of social sanction against the transgressor. Some researchers argue that humans are the only species able to develop or profit from reciprocal altruism as humans are the only species that are capable of realizing sufficient benefit from the altruistic reciprocity, the only species that is capable of maintaining a record of altruistic balances, and the only species that is capable of maintaining a social connection long enough and stable enough to initiate and benefit from reciprocal relationships. 

Both theories of kin selection and reciprocal altruism provide rational arguments for altruistic behavior in humans. However, neither completely explains why humans will engage in such acts. Kin selection only works if the entire world community is seen as one’s kin and reciprocal altruism only works if one assumes that the recipient has the resources to return the favor, which, in many instances such as the world’s response to the tsunami in Thailand, is simply not feasible. The chances that Thailand will have the resources any time soon to reciprocate on a similar scale is highly doubtful. Additionally, the example of the individual who can help out on a global scale, yet pass by the homeless person on the street corner, must be addressed. Altruism has a bit of cynicism attached to it. Although one could assume that an individual tends to ignore the beggar on the street because of that recipient’s perceived inability to return the favor, so to speak. However, one could also assume that the giver fails to acknowledge the needs of the street beggar because of a learned cynicism that dictates that the street beggar does not truly need one’s services. Many individuals have heard of the stories of individuals who pose as beggars who are not truly needy or who will likely use any donation toward a non-essential purpose. Because of this, it can be assumed that, although altruism is hardwired and biologically determined, it can surely be influenced by social learning, i.e. that certain individuals are not worthy of our altruistic acts. As humans are presumably higher-thinking organisms, one can justly argue that their altruism is determined by a number of internal and external factors.

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