503: I Was Just Trying To Help
Aug 16, 2013
Stories of people doing the noble thing and stepping up to help, only to find out that others think what they're doing isn't helping at all. Planet Money looks at a charity that's decided to just give people money, and a sheriff in California devises a plan to let farmers grow weed — as long as they register with him.
- Ira speaks with Sharon Snyder. Until recently, Sharon was a clerk for circuit court judge in Missouri. While she was at work, a man and a woman approached her looking for some paperwork so they could help out their brother, who was in prison for rape. The prisoner claimed he was innocent of the crime and had decided to file a motion for a DNA test. Sharon decided to help the man with the paperwork, which didn't please her employer. (6 minutes)
- Planet Money reporters David Kestenbaum and Jacob Goldstein went to Kenya to see the work of a charity called GiveDirectly in action. Instead of funding schools or wells or livestock, GiveDirectly has decided to just give money directly to the poor people who need it, and let them decide how to spend it. David and Jacob explain whether this method of charity works, and why some people think it's a terrible idea. (28 minutes)
- Under California law, it's legal to grow marijuana for medicinal purposes if you have a doctor's recommendation. A few years ago, Mendocino County Sheriff Tom Allman was trying to find a way to deal with the proliferation of marijuana in his county. Allman wanted to spend less time dealing with growers who were growing small, legal amounts, so he could focus on other problems — including criminals who run massive marijuana farms in the Mendocino National Forest. So he came up with a plan to allow the small farmers to grow, if they registered with his office. Growers would pay for little zip-ties they could put around the base of their marijuana plants, and the cops would know to leave them alone. It saved time and generated revenue. Reporter Mary Cuddehe tells the story of how the county and the nation responded to the sheriff's plan. (18 minutes)
Bernard Omondi, a Kenyan who has received money from a charity called GiveDirectly. Photo by Jacob Goldstein. Click image to enlarge.