August 1, 2011; Source: Washington Post | The Washington Post has discovered a new kind of addiction probably not listed in the publications of known psychological compulsions. Apparently, there are people who simply love love love to write checks—or donate through their credit cards—to politicians. We aren’t talking about big donors, but regular working class and middle class people like Michael Schulze, a 57-year-old software engineer from Hartford, Connecticut, who diligently reads the news on the Internet daily and responds to stories by sending $25 donations to politicians, including his favorite, Rep. Michele Bachmann (R-MN). The donations make him feel better, giving him an outlet for his frustration with the political process.
And it isn’t just Republicans. Coloradan Brian Beverly, for example—a 26-year-old telecommunications engineer who has donated to President Obama’s reelection campaign at least 26 times since April, sometimes donating only $5, but cumulatively donating some $3,300—all below the $200 threshold that requires candidates to report donations.
Why do they do this? The reasons are complicated, though Beverly says, “It’s almost addicting to think that you’re influencing government.”
Are there charitable donors like these political ones switching on the checkbook or credit card to make donations that assuage their needs for fixes? Can you control your charitable giving addiction? Or, in the wake of scandals, are some charitable donors going cold turkey?—Rick Cohen