Having sullied the name of the Wasted Wampum Project so many times, you would think there was nothing further in my repertoire to unveil. True and maybe not so true. Steve Nardizzi and Albion Giordano (hooo, doggies- there’s a name looking for a facelift) find themselves in the unenviable position of President and Vice-President of the Last Man Standing Club. The wars are over. The last of the troops are coming home to roost from the Wally Reed Home for Wayward Paraplegics. Simply put, there’s no new meat in the pipeline. As with all wars, eventually, atom bombs (WWII), public opinion (Vietnam) or indifference (GW I, Iraq, Afstan) create ennui and the crowds fade away. No amount of advertising, exhortations to stay the course or patriotism can enervate the populace to keep on being the best you can be at charitable donations.
Unlike a computer, you can’t reboot a war. There simply is no Control/Alt/Delete to bring up the Afghanistan Task Manager and begin anew. Some are worried we will re-enter Iraq. Maybe, but it will be done with Predator drones. Our illustrious Commander-in-Chief made us a promise and he has made good on it-sort of. Afghanistan was no more forgiving to us that it was to Alexander the Great, the British or the Russians. Obama is discovering extricating himself from it is worse than getting hot tar off your shoe at Camp LeJeune in August. Just when you think you’re out of the parking lot-bam-five more miles of sealer on your tenny runners. Nevertheless, in fits and gasps, we are beginning our Farewell to Arms.
For the WWP, this poses an immense obstacle. Their whole charity predicate-the pitch, if you will- was to the Iraq/Afstan Vets after 2001. By myopically focusing on one select cohort of Vets to the exclusion of all others who came before (and thus alienating them beyond belief), they have artificially limited their pool of contributors. Further, by winnowing down the pool to focus narrowly on horrifically maimed Vets, they reduced their numbers further. They need to take a page from the Religious televangelists and point out that Cadillacs, Gulfstream jets and other infrastructure so critical to money gathering wear out with time. The IRS only gives you fives years to depreciate them and “re-jet” or “re-Porsche” if I may coin a term.
Their latest spate of commercials is refreshing. No more Mr. Potatohead missing ears, nose, hair and appendages. Now we are blessed with the warrior home from the field of honor surrounded by family and dog. Warmth abounds at the hearth but still these Wounded Souls are alienated, disenfranchised and deprived of assimilation back into society. They yearn for more. This continuing metaphysical dichotomy can only be assuaged by money-your money. Twenty dineros a month to be exact -or nineteen if you are tapped out. Salving one’s conscience with charitable donations quenches the thirst eventually. Herein lies the problem. At some point, no amount of cajoling can pry your wallet open further. You’ve done your duty. Problem solved. Mr. Nardizzi & Co. will soon discover that natural disasters and other catastrophes will eventually push him off the stage. America is sooo fickle when it comes to charity. With Facebook, the cause d’ jour is usurped hourly by the next one.
Messieurs Nardizzi and Giordano thus find themselves in a quandary. How to enervate their base and produce more Wampum? Notwithstanding Dean Graham’s and my inroads on their funds gathering, they face an uphill battle. As with most of these gigs, eventually the returns will become paltry and the whole thing will come crashing down. Fortunately for the principles, they have wisely set aside a “rainy day” fund of over one hundred million dollars to cushion themselves against this impending shortfall. After that, I suspect the WWP will fold up the tent and await a new conflict where their inimitable skills can be brought into play again. Charity sherpas are a dime a dozen but they surface like unwanted perennials in the garden.
We look forward to the Wounded Wallet Program’s demise with parted lips and bated breath. At that point, other valuable charities will regain the ascendancy and funds will once again flow to Vets. Don’t get me wrong. I find the WWP vision ( To foster the most successful, well-adjusted generation of wounded service members in our nation’s history) and purpose (To raise awareness and enlist the public’s aid for the needs of injured service members; To help injured service members aid and assist each other; To provide unique, direct programs and services to meet the needs of injured service members.) admirable. Furthermore, I like their cute stick figure of “Filis” which stands for:
As most of you can see, Filis has one of those free WWP backpacks chock full of your cash, 3% of which will percolate down to Vets. Filis wants her new-found friends to concentrate on giving rather than receiving. After all, it is far more blessed to do so unless, or until, you drag religion into the discussion. That’s what this is all about. $154 Million in- $3.5 million out. The difference in the two figures is that pesky overhead we hear about with all these 501(c)(3) charities. Were it not for that, the Vets would be awash in their funds. The We Want the Pesos charity is unique. They duplicate everything the VA does at twice the price and deserving Vets everywhere get “serviced”. Let’s define WWP “service”. They learn how to find jobs even though they are so disfigured and maimed as to be incapable of same. They learn how to deal with their bent brains at seminars and Kumbaya Camps put on by other Vet charities hired (by WWP) to do these things. They have fun at venues where they are paraded on stage for the fundraising part of the program and then politely relegated to the back of the stage to be seen but not heard. WWP offers loyalty inasmuch as they offer “Alumni” programs where you (the disabled Vet on a fixed compensation income) are able to donate monthly for the rest of your life. Thus they loyally accept your contribution. Innovation is the hallmark of their game. Why help Vets when you can simply sub it out to subcontractors and take a cut for doing so? Integrity is a fig newton of their imagination but it helps fill out Filis’ name.
We at asknod are intrigued by this philosophy. How is it that so many can be hoodwinked into donating so foolishly to a fly by night outfit that offers so much and delivers so little? After much investigation, we can discern a pattern. Much like Mr. Ponzi’s elaborate hoax, the masses are convinced their contributions are bequeathed directly to disabled Vets. The expectation is that they (the Vets) actually benefit from the largesse. In reality, this is taken from a page in the VA hierarchy. Promise them Arpege and give them WD 40 Eau d’ stress. It took us a while to check the bona fides of the Board of Directors. I had to join Linkedin™ to find all their glowing resumes. Sure enough, the same folks that formerly rubbed shoulders with the likes of Robert Petzel and Sharon Helman are now Mr. Nardizzi’s and Mr. Albiano’s loyal protégés and yes-men. They are the “I” in Filis’ “Innovation”. Chances are you may see Sharon employed there soon if VA Secretary McDonald is forced into firing her.
In closing, I expect a new downpour of insults about how unconscionable it is to to hurl deprecations at a fine upstanding outfit such as the WWP. After all, they want what all Vet charities like Fisher House and Navy Marine Corps Relief do- to help Vets. Right? I guess the problem is getting past the disparity of “there’s one for you- nineteen for me”. In my tortured brain, I had it figured out the other way around. They do it with such perfect aplomb, too. It’s fascinating right up until you meet a Vet with no legs and ask him precisely what WWP provided him, the family and, of course, the dog. It turns out “honoring and empowering” Vets does not include any George Washington coupons. Here’s the WWP dollar:
WWP has honored me by giving me my fifteen minutes of fame promised me by Andy Warhol. I like the lead in at the top where they inveigh on all the scammers trying to get a cut of their scam. Their mendacity is mind boggling. Why, the very audacity of stealing someone else’s idea to legally steal. There’s simply no honor among thieves anymore. Shocked, I say. I am shocked. Did I mention I was shocked?
Happy Labor Day. Coincidentally, it’s Day 70 of Sovaldi. Virus-free pour le moment. Onwards through the Fog. Vote for Oatbama (if he runs again).