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I Want You to Send Me $1,000. OK?

Written by Gary North on December 3, 2013

People ask me to do this. I thought I would ask you.

Dear Dr. North:

You have never heard of me.

Please send me $1,000.

Thanks.

Billy Joe Jones

This sounds like a nutty letter. I have never received such a letter.

Let me rewrite it.

Dear Dr. North:

You have never heard of me.

I have written a book. I want you to endorse it.

Where should I send the book?

Thanks.

Billy Joe Jones

I receive some version of this letter every month or so. All published authors do.

The author who sends this knows that my time is valuable. But it does not occur to him that he is asking for a donation -– a donation for which I cannot get a tax deduction.

What’s in it for me? Nothing.

Here is the economic version of the letter.

Dear Dr. North:

You have never heard of me.

I have written a book. I want you to endorse it.

If you read 25 pages an hour, at 250 pages, that will be 10 hours.

I assume your time is worth nothing.

Where should I send the book?

Thanks.

Billy Joe Jones

I received such a letter recently. He wanted me to review his book on economics. But he does not understand this law: “At zero price, there is greater demand than supply.”

I sent a reply. “Sorry; I’m just too busy. I write 7-8 articles a day, and I write 3 classroom lectures, plus shoot them and edit them.”

Then I wrote this article.

When dealing with busy people, do not assume that their time is of zero value. When you ask for a donation, let them know that you know that you are asking for the equivalent of money. Time is money.

Another variation. “I have an investment question.” I get these several times a week.

My response: “Join my site, GaryNorth.com. Post your questions on forums.” As far as I know, in eight years, I have had fewer than half a dozen people join, and then ask the question.

More common is this response. I received it on December 2.

Never mind. I took the time to share sincere feedback and formulate a question, and you ask me for 15 bucks. I might have joined if your answer was a proof of value.

They were going to invest lots of money, based on a free answer. But because I charge $14.95 a month, I’m a heartless, price-gouging bastard. Message: “I deserve a handout! You owe it to me!”

People love free lunches. This is why the West will go bankrupt.

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23 thoughts on “I Want You to Send Me $1,000. OK?

  1. Texas Chris says:

    This is why I read Gary North.

    People who pester an economics author with financial questions are a version of what I call "Askholes". They want their questions answered for free, in a timely manner, politely, and will do exactly the opposite of what they are advised.

    Personally, I heard Dr. North speak in about 1999, and did what he said to do. So should you.

  2. "Askholes"… very good Chris. Can I use it, free of course.
    I am kidding. Even a word or simple phrases have real value and should be compensated for, if only in recognition of the creator.
    Here's one…"When they can vote themselves cakes, it's time to leave." Lazarus Long
    And another…"Askholes ". Thanks Texas Chris.

  3. Cliffystones says:

    Hey Gary, it's pretty much the same if they find out you can fix things. Back in the 80s co-workers would ask me to fix their TV sets. Most were appreciative and delighted that what I charged was less than a storefront shop. But some fools actually took offense that I was going to charge them anything beyond my expenses! Yea, you spend your weekend watchingn football while I spend mine working on your $#it!

    • This reminded me of when I was in my 20's and had a pickup truck. I was forced to put a bumper sticker on it – "Yes, This is My Truck. No, I Won't Help You Move."

    • Yup, and I was constantly asked to fix people's PCs. My first change in policy was that they had to bring it to me – I could then work on it when I had time and I had all the resources that I was used to having. But after spending 15 hours that they couldn't see and didn't value I made another adjustment. I'll fix your PC if you'll bring it to my house and stay with me and keep me company while I work on it. That raised the price so high that nobody has paid it, so far. They value their time but not mine, therefore they don't get any of my time!

  4. What's sad is that we have any economists at all. The very idea that thinking that someone who tracks the financial comings and goings of the herd has any value is repulsive to me. The fact that these people exist means that the system is not self transparent to the degree that we need the modern equivalent of witch doctors to read chicken bones. That's best case. Worst case, and the more common case, is that economics are used to figure out how to extract the maximum amount of labor from the herd, generally without compensation. In other words, it is the equivalent of a rancher understanding his herd in terms of consumption and production. This is not done as a hobby as it is far from free to do. It is done to figure how much feed to provide in order to get maximum output from the livestock. Economists assist the financial elite in their efforts to dehumanize people into a form of livestock which is to be tracked and managed, allowed to live and die even, with the purpose of extracting maximum value without killing the herd. Economists help the elite push people into a life of barely scraping by just short of armed revolt. If not for this, there would be no value in an economist and thus no economists.

  5. John-Smith. says:

    I am in need of money.So send me as much as you can.I am an American Citizen.So I know that's probably a strike against me.And having rather light skin may be another strike.But I am as trust worthy as our sainted dear leader.barack-hussien-obama.mmmm-mmm-mmmmmmm.So please send all your TAX-DEDUCTABLE-DONATIONS.In care of John-Smith at.WB343@webtv.net—Thank You-Thank You Very Much.

  6. Dr North’s gentle redirection to his subscription site is exactly correct. All professionals deal with this and the best answer I’ve heard, and now use, is to thank them for the question, mention that you are confident you can help since you do this for a living and recommend they call your office to set up an appointment. They almost never will but ” the soft answer turneth away wrath.”

  7. Can anyone spot me $20 for lunch?

  8. I get all kinds of request for money/donations – even from a Christian friend on fb who live overseas and want me to "invite" them to come to the US so they can get a job here. They don't realize a sponsorship (which is what the invitation is) requires me to have at least $5-6K in the bank to ensure they would not become a burden on society, and provide a place for them to live. They have suggested I even break the law by inviting them to come and once they are here they are on their own. I have also had another (well known) Christian friend ask me to send them money to help support what he does on fb – which is nothing more than what many of us who have a personal (non-professional) ministry do – for free. I was rather taken aback that this person asked me for a donation, and fortunate enough that I could do some research to find they had just purchased a house in 2006 that is 3x the size of mine. While I am willing to sacrifice to donate to a good cause, I am living on a low fixed income myself and I don't believe that giving to those who are better off than I am is wise, nor is it Biblical. "One who oppresses the poor to increase his wealth and one who gives gifts to the rich—both come to poverty" Prov. 22:16

  9. I should add that I would never charge anything for what I do in service to the Lord.

  10. No tolerance for comments containing vulgarity…what about articles containing it? If you want people to acknowledge they are asking for a donation, why don't you acknowledge your foul-mouthed double standard.

  11. "a donation for which I cannot get a tax deduction"

    My teeny donation to the conversation: I don't think this is ever a good reason to do or not do something altruistic. All it does is complicate the equation.

    Years ago, once I realized that information is a commodity (as used in I.T. and M.I.S., at work) I paid more attention to whom I gave such information, that is, when it came from inside my head either as playback, or as a conclusion that I reached. My mom still gets free help with her PC, but most other people don't.

  12. In response to Ken, same thing here. I instruct IT folks on "private cloud" things and a lot of acqaintences ask me to "take a quick look" at their computers. I make them the same offer as you and have the same response rate. Zip. Zero. Zilch. Nada. NEVER ONCE has anybody agreed to sit with me while I fix their PC. However, I did consider buying a tee shirt "Will fix computer for date with hot babe". Sadly, it probably would not have worked.

  13. This is hilarious. Gary is a bit curmudgeonly and to the point. That's why I like him. I think he is the quintessential counter-economist. They say that if you laid down all the economists in history end to end you still would not reach a conclusion. We need more economists like Gary. He has a place because the others exist and we need someone with common and Biblical sense to contradict them, to dissemble their gobbledegook, to point out that they have no clothes. I'm sure he is very generous with those who are truly in need. For the rest, work or don't eat. Pay your way. There are no free lunches. And may God bless your efforts as I am sure he will. Great article.

  14. WhiteFalcon says:

    "People love free lunches. That is why the West will go bankrupt." This is entirely correct and is in fact happening even as we speak. Government should be barred from getting into the welfare business. We see right now that most of Europe is in the toilet and the rest is headed in that direction, and the US wants to be part of the crowd. Governments are comprised of morons.

  15. MY FRIEND WAS BORN AND RAISED IN INDIA , SON OF AMERICAN MISSIONARIES.
    They spent a great deal of time and money printing and distributing pamphlets about salvation etc.
    They were constantly sickened by seeing that no one read them . Instead they were used for toilet paper and lighting fires etc.
    They prayed and felt as if GOD told them to sell the pamphlets.
    So they began to charge something equivalent to 2 tenths of a cent.
    Suddenly the people were reading and rereading them,
    trading the one they had for one their neighbor had,
    maintaining collections of them like little libraries, etc.

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