“Support our troops” wristbands provide only 1/3 support


Over at Slate, Timothy Noah notes how much money from so-called "awareness bracelets" actually go to the causes they purport to champion.

In summary,

Bracelet Vendor Cause Portion that
benefits cause
Yellow "Livestrong" Lance Armstrong Foundation supporting cancer survivors all
Cinnamon Tsunami Relief Red Cross, UNICEF, CARE 1/2
Camo-green 7-11 USO 1/3
Light blue Awareness Depot Tsunami disaster relief
(unspecified charity)
1/10
Yellow Awareness Depot Support our troops 0

I find it ironic that the "Support our troops" bracelet doesn't actually support our troops. And is yellow really the right color to use to demonstrate support for the military?

Comments (43)
  1. Dave says:

    I think the color reference comes from the song "Tie a Yellow Ribbon Round The Ole Oak Tree", it was first used as a sign for the hostages in the Iranian Embassy takeover during the late 1970s.

    http://www.superseventies.com/1973_1singles.html

  2. quanta says:

    It reminds me of a website where you can buy a ribbon/magnet/bumper sticker that says, "Support Our Makers of Cheap Trinkets Made in China" or some such thing.

    Just another scheme for well-meaning but not well-thinking people to spend money.

  3. This site sells custom magnetic ribbons, including "God Bless the Magnetic Ribbon Industry".

    http://store.pomosideshow.com/ribbon_intro.html

  4. Jello Biafra says:

    We support our troops most, because we would bring them home!

  5. LT says:

    Supporting our troops means walking down to the recuiting office and joining us out there.

  6. Andrew Feldstein says:

    At 7-11, at least, they made no bones about it. I saw their crappy rubber band bracelets advertised at $2.99 with "$1.00 from the sale" of each bracelet donated the whatever cause. I did the math and didn’t buy.

  7. kbiel says:

    This is a great lesson in charity. If you demand that you get something back from your charity, then is it really charity? How about you just give, preferably to a reputable group with low or non-existent administrative costs, and count yourself luck that you had something to give.

  8. Gene Hamilton says:

    No, I think its because people want to see their money help people, not go into the pockets of those who run the charity.

    I donate to Catholic Charities because 95 cents on the dollar goes to those who need it not to some six-figure execs.

  9. "Supporting our troops means walking down to the recuiting office and joining us out there."

    Had I not been told years back that asthma was a disqualifier, it’d have been a done deal.

  10. Dave says:

    "Supporting our troops means walking down to the recuiting office and joining us out there."

    Supporting our troops means not sending them to invade little countries that didnt do anything to us in the first place.

  11. tsrblke says:

    Oddly enough, I’ve seen worse before. I remeber just post 9/11 when the "FDNY" clothing, etc. was comming out. I remember a big thing about it not going to any charity or the like, I also remember reading that it wasn’t even sanctioned by FDNY, some company knew that it would sell so they printed it up. Kinda sick in my opinion, but I guess that’s business. (On an unrelated note, I always thought that FDNY looked like it spelled "FONY!"–Bad pun I know)

    I don’t nessicarily argree with the idea that you can’t get something back as kbiel stated. I went to Honduras about 2 years ago to work in a nutrition center. Of the funding not covered by us ourselves (we did pay for some of it out of pocket) some was donated by school groups (Mother’s club, etc.), Some by Individuals, however a large chunk of our money came from a Hostess Snack sale. We sold hostess snack cakes we bought from the day old store during the lunch period. (We also sold Krispy Kremes and had the occasional Raffle.) Our Teacher’s thought was this was a way to get money without begging, all parties involved got something out of it, and 100% of the money went to the project. (And most of it went to the center directly in forms of food or such, not to travel.)

  12. It’s sad to realize that some people use other people’s compassion as a profit driver, which is sacrilegious in the first place.

    I’ve seen plenty of cars here, in NY, with "These colors don’t run" decals which faded to the point that you could hardly read them. What a shame to the manufacturers.

    I also wish the magnets you see on cars read "Support our troops. Bring them home safe."

  13. Vince P. says:

    "Support our troops, bring them home" . Ha. I just erased a bunch of stuff I’m not even going to waste my time saying.

    If you truly support our troops, then you wont undermine their mission nor will you provide moral support to the forces against which our troops are fighting.

  14. Tony Cox [MS] says:

    "If you truly support our troops, then you wont undermine their mission nor will you provide moral support to the forces against which our troops are fighting."

    Because it’s patriotic to never question your leaders?

    There is no contradiction in being both against the war, and supporting the troops at the same time. Recall that, (at least now they’ve given up on that whole WMD fiction), the purpose of the war is to bring democracy to Iraq. Part of democracy is the freedom to express your opinion and to question the policies of your government.

    I’ve noticed that people start to whine about "undermining our troops" right around the time they run out of justifications for the war. I guess it’s easier to start calling your opponent names than it is to debate the actual issues.

    Now, remind me again why it’s unpatriotic to want our troops to be taken out of harm’s way?

  15. Aaargh! says:

    These wristbands can also be dangerous for the carrier.

    Some hospitals use yellow wristbands for patients who do not wish to be reanimated after cardiac arrest. Your livestrong/"support our troops" wristband might be mistaken for one of these.

  16. Moi says:

    I don’t get it. What is being suggested here? That the money from the ribbons should be given to the DoD? You do enough of that already.

    Secondly – "I donate to Catholic Charities […] not to some six-figure execs". The "six figure execs" will have to save a long time until they live in a house the size that the Pope does.

  17. Tony Cox:

    Once the decision has been taken to send the troops abroad then you shouldn’t undermine their mission. The time to argue whether they should stay or go is before the troops are sent. By questioning your leaders after the decision has been taken you will be simply wasting your breath without helping your own troops, and giving moral support to the other side. Not very effective.

    If you want to know how badly lack of pulic support can undermine a military mission, just look at Vietnam. The N.Koreans knew that the Nixon govt. was being hammered within the US and the Koreans used this against the US govt when it came to the negotiating table.

  18. I forget to add that I am against the war.

    Toppling Sadam was silly, even from a strictly geo-political view. Saddam managed, via less then savoury means, of keeping order in a divided country, much like Tito did in the former Yugoslavia. Also, Saddam was not an Islamic radical in a region full of them.

    Better if the US invaded Iran. Oh wait, it probably will…

  19. Tom Seddon says:

    Um, I think the point was more that this spate of political correctness, whereby Support For The Troops must be shown by the wearing of some not-inherently-useful decorative garment, is rendered doubly ridiculous when the supported cause is not actually being supported in any meaningful way.

    If you already give money to the armed forces through your taxes, but wish to express extra special support, then buying a yellow ribbon that does nothing but line the pockets of people unconnected with the army (navy, etc.) is hardly the best place to start.

  20. Vince P. says:

    As usual those whose patriotism is questionable get offended by stating the obvious… Islamic and Baathist terrorist know they can rely on the Left to soften the actions taken against them.

    It’s interesting the change the Left has undergone, they now openly side with the terrorists by hoping for the failure of the Administration or by outright causing it. They are opposed to the removal of one of the most inhumane monsters in a region that has enough monsters, and in a region that’s headed (and is still headed if the culture isn’t changed) into a black hole.

    But there’s Republicans to hate… so all that doesn’t matter.

  21. Scott Z says:

    "Now, remind me again why it’s unpatriotic to want our troops to be taken out of harm’s way?"

    Maybe not so much unpatriotic as ignorant. Anyone with even the most tenuous grasp on world events knows that the troops won’t and can’t leave Iraq anytime soon. To do so would be a disaster. Calling for the removal of troops from Iraq gives comfort to insurgent and terrorist forces despite the fact that removal is a strategic impossibility.

  22. Vince P. says:

    Its funny if you listen to an Iraqi government official get asked about immediate US withdrawel or the outlining of a schedule.. they either 1) react in horror, 2) or laugh due to its absurdity.

    So why is it that the only people who demand "to bring our troops home" (which they dont even agree with) are Terrorists and Democrats?

  23. VinceP:

    The Left are generally anti-American, especially the "intellectual" ones: Noam Chomsky, the late Susan Sonntag and most post-modernists. These people imbibed their beliefs during the raging currents that were the 60s but, unlike good wine, their convictions have not matured with age.

    As for Saddam being inhumane – yes, but compared to the rest in the region he was relatively mild. Toppling him has removed the security and order that was in Iraq. I am not blaming the troops – but Rumsfeld should have seen it coming. Powell was a military man – they should have listened more to him.

    You can’t change culture – not forcefully. If you think America, or anyone else can implant democracy anywhere you are sadly mistaken. In Europe: Spain, Portugal and others became democratic only when the local conditions allowed. Democracy can only come about organically. Ignoring this is to ignore history.

    This is now way off-topic. Maybe another forum ?

  24. asdf says:

    "The time to argue whether they should stay or go is before the troops are sent."

    So all a president needs to do to silence criticism is start a war? Oh, what a great thing to encourage.

    Anyway, if you agree that Saddam was so bad as to be worth starting a war over, then shouldn’t you be even more angry that we supported him back in the ’80s?

    Right now, as our troops kill and die (supposedly to bring freedom to Iraq), we continue to support another dictator who actually has nuclear WMDs: Pervez Musharraf of Pakistan, who overthrew a democratically elected government.

    So how long till we invade Pakistan? You may laugh, but I’ll bet Rumsfeld wasn’t planning on invading Iraq either when he shook Saddam’s hand 20 years ago.

    So by all means, continue with the unquestioning support. After all, it’s served us pretty well thus far, right?

  25. So all a president needs to do to silence criticism is start a war?

    To silence criticism related to the war – yes. And if the American Constitution makes it that easy for a president to start a war then you’ve got bigger problems to fix…

    I don’t think you read my posts above – I dont think that the war in Iraq was well thought out. But now that it has started it would be naive to argue for the troops to be pulled back. Indeed the best way to help the troops is to help them finish it properly.

    > we continue to support another dictator who actually has nuclear WMDs

    In international relations (IR) you dont have friends, just common interests. And those interests can, and do, change. Only a fool would ignore the balance of power. A few years after helping defeat Germany and Japan, America was giving them aid by the billions. Read some history: European IR starting from the causes of the 30year war onwards will be very enlightning :)

  26. Aaargh! says:

    "Better if the US invaded Iran. Oh wait, it probably will…"

    No it won’t , the US can’t afford it.

    "It’s interesting the change the Left has undergone,"

    First of all, the US has no Left. the people you can Left-wing are considered far-right-wing in Europe.

    "they now openly side with the terrorists by hoping for the failure of the Administration or by outright causing it."

    The biggest ally the terrorists have, is the US government. Terrorism isn’t about blowing stuff up, it’s about spreading Fear as a means to push your agenda forward, the US overreaction to 9/11 has done more for spreading Fear than Osama could have ever hoped for. The Republicans/Bush can also be classified as terrorists, while they did not attack anything, they did increase the Fear in the US public and used it to push their agenda.

    You can on a regular basis hear Bush say that Terrorists hate Freedom, yet there is less freedom in the US nowadays than there was before 9/11, looks like the terrorists are winning.

    "They are opposed to the removal of one of the most inhumane monsters in a region that has enough monsters, and in a region that’s headed (and is still headed if the culture isn’t changed) into a black hole. "

    The problem is not removing Saddam, the US should have done that years ago in the first gulf war (actually, the US told the Iraqi’s they would, this triggered an uprising after which the US withdrew and left the rebellion to the ‘mercy’ of Saddam, and now you wonder why the Iraqi’s don’t trust you …). The problem is the timing, the reasons for going to war and the way it’s executed.

  27. Vince P. says:

    Aaargh.. looks like the US can do no right… please lead the way..

  28. Vince P. says:

    The US Constitution doesn’t make it easy for US President to declare a war because that was delegated to Congress.. Congress also controls the spending of every dollar. Reality shows that formal declarations of war are no longer relevent, so we now have "Authorizations of Use of US Armed Forces" for all intents. Congress authorized the Iraqi invasion and indeed Congress enacted into US Law that that it the foreign policy of teh United States to see regime change in Iraq, this was during Clinton’s 2nd term.

  29. Raymond Chen says:

    Okay people, enough of arguing about the war. I was pointing out the irony of the bracelets. I’m going to delete any further off-topic comments.

  30. Brian Beatty says:

    Pretty sad when you see a 14yr girl with a "rainbow" arm of bracelets because she thinks its cool. She doesn’t even know what they mean.

  31. tsrblke says:

    Not to encurr the wrath of double posting:

    But here’s a good example of being able to get something when you donate. And it’s from our favorite cooking man. ;) (Sorry if this was already mentioned I didn’t see it though)

    http://www.altonbrown.com/pages/doggybag.html

  32. tsrblke says:

    Moi-

    " The "six figure execs" will have to save a long time until they live in a house the size that the Pope does."

    You forget that the land was gathered over many centuries. (I’m not saying that it was always 100% on the up and up but that’s a different argument.)

    Today we see more and more of the "jump on the (insert charity here) bandwagon to make a quick buck. And sometimes these places claim to be legit organizations giving to some psuedo-charity.

    Although on an even stranger and somewhat worse:

    http://snipurl.com/d517 (<–Link to Ebay serach for "Livestrong")

    Now if you filter out the stuff not in USD (Just to clean things up and compare apples to apples) http://snipurl.com/d51a

    You’ll notice by simple skimming that alot less of the ones in USD have bids however there are a few here and there that do have bids. Still there are ones out there selling at or above (I see *one* going for $11) the retail price (based on the per unit cost no shipping fromt the LAF site). Now who get the profit off of these? Some ebayer no doubt, and maybe if it’s not a cheap knock off, the LAF might get some of it. (Of course if people are willing to pay this much for the bracelets why not give the LAF all of it?)

    What we’re seing here is that people will jump on any fad to make a quick buck, and the bracelets and magnets are just another incarnation of that. I wish I could find the article that a professor at my college posted on the door of his lab. The title was "Jumping on the Band-Wagon" and it had a picture of some of the wrist bands selling today, including one with "Support this useless fad" printed on it.

  33. Moi says:

    the supported cause is not actually being supported in any meaningful way

    You mean monetary way. The two things are not synonymous.

  34. Tom Seddon says:

    You mean monetary way. The two things are not synonymous.

    It turns out that ‘meaningful’ doesn’t actually have the meaning ‘useful’, as I thought it did, as that is what I meant…

    Yours,

    Humpty.

  35. Phoenix says:

    Anti-American depends solely on your definition of what is american and what is not. The left believes that education and human services are american, the right that defense and religion are.

    Regardless, I find it highly amusing and ironic that people all across the nation are sporting these armbands, not so much as an actual statement of support, but more as a political statement against the left and those who opposed the war, and in reality their money has no support in it whatsoever.

  36. paulr says:

    The yellow shows solidarity for our troops … we have seen in few times in the past e.g. gulf war 1, 1980 hostage crisis .etc

    This company is simply profiting on the concept. 10% and 0% on commodity goods like pins is just bs especially the proprietor is probably a middle aged person who lives at home and is aiming to be the next infomercial star.

  37. hannah says:

    i want one they are xjfhsdjfh

  38. hannah says:

    all people want them for is to look cool and to stand out at school all they care about is their image so it is silly

  39. lug says:

    one more garbage to through away.

    hi, i like to give you $2 for that yellow ribbon that i’ll throw away in the garbage for free in less than 6 months after purchase.

    or i’ll pay someone $2 for me to take out their trash for them.

    or i’m paying $2 to drive up to a shop (paying my gas and my time) to buy a ribbon that’s costs $.25 (or less) to make in china then contribute to the increasing land fields of america.

    or I’ll pay $2 to china to dump their’s trash in america.

    wake up people.

  40. "Regardless, I find it highly amusing and ironic that people all across the nation are sporting these armbands, not so much as an actual statement of support, but more as a political statement against the left and those who opposed the war, and in reality their money has no support in it whatsoever"

    I think the purpose is neither saying that they have monetary support nor making a political statement to the left. I have one sticker on my car, and it says "support our troops". The purpose of it is that when military people come back from overseas, they can feel welcomed and loved, and know that we are thinking of them and praying for them over here.

  41. THE O.N.E. says:

    wherecan i get a support our troopos wristband?

  42. THE O.N.E. says:

    i need sum…i’ll pay up to £3 for one

  43. jessie says:

    ok so only 1/3 of the monies is going to support the troops but has anyone asked how that money is supporting our troops. Recently I purchased 2 magnetic ribbons from a family readiness group. They had purchased the magnets and then charged a few dollars more for them. It was worth it to me to know that my money was directly supporting friends and family. As far as the wrist bands are concerned if people really want to help buy a supply, sell them to your friends for the same price you bought them and them make up care packages for our troops. Try it it might make you feel better knowing you did something to help instead of complaining.

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