The Strategic Retreat

Why I hate The Red Cross

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I haven’t hit publish this week, despite the best of intentions. I had a few good ideas that I wrote up which turned out to actually be crap, upon execution, and now it’s Friday. Friday is my self-imposed deadline. I’d like to write and publish something every day but once a week is the bare minimum I’m willing to accept from myself. Lazy, hack self…

Over the past few years I’ve let a lot of my hate go. It felt rude to trap it, against its will. This is generally a good thing but it causes problems when trying to continue my “Why I hate you” series. Luckily for me I have a memory of past-me and past-me hated all kinds of stuff. So this, and future hates, will mostly be in the voice of 2001-2012 Jeff. That guy really hated the Red Cross.

My hatred of The Red Cross began around September 12th 2001. Up until that time I donated blood a few times a year and had managed to sling a gallon of blood their way. That all changed rather abruptly and I have not donated blood since 2001. In the aftermath of the September 11th incident The Red Cross used the confusion and tragedy to manipulate and lie to the American people in order to fulfill their long term goals. I’m not the most nationalistic or sentimental guy in the world but that was some cold-hearted, sociopathic bullshit. That was straight up Lizard People tactics. In addition to The Red Cross commonly manipulating people along with mismanaging and misusing donated funds they’re also dishonest about where your blood goes and how their operation is financed. What it comes down to is that they feel they’re part of the greater good and they’ll tell you whatever they can to take from you in order to further that good. My two main beeves with The Red Cross are their lies about disaster relief and their lies about blood donation.


In the words of Degrassi High’s Zit Remedy, “Everybody wants something, they’ll never give up. Everybody wants something, they’ll take your money and never give up.

Bataan Death March Cat

Taking money is one thing but The Red Cross is literally funded by the life blood of the American people. They manipulate people into donating blood, then they turn right around and sell that blood, then they use that money for suspect ends; using suspect accounting.

The lie:

They convince people to donate blood. They do this by telling you how many lives you’ll save and how needed it is. It does save lives and it is needed but the fact that it’s being sold kind of negates all that. It’s true that one pint of blood can save 3 lives, as they love to espouse in their literature. And, technically, it can. But, it doesn’t. It’s such a rarity that it’s essentially a lie. What The Red Cross doesn’t tell you is how many pints of blood are needed for nose jobs or face lifts or calf implants. Or even how many lives the average donation actually saves(it’s far far less than one).

You’re not donating blood to a hospital, you’re donating something the Red Cross can sell. You’re giving them a pint of your blood instead of $200.

Say The Red Cross asked you to donate a TV so orphans can watch Sesame Street. You give it to The Red Cross and later see the TV in the orphanage. The kids have a TV and all went as planned, right? What if you then found out that The Red Cross actually sold that TV to the orphanage, at full retail, and the only one who really benefited was The Red Cross? Personally, I’d feel manipulated and lied to. That’s exactly what they do with blood donations.

Well, not exactly what they do with those donations; I was being generous. It would only be as honest as a ‘Steal from you to fuck over orphans‘ level of betrayal if they actually sold your orphan-TV to the orphans and not to “whoever”. Imagine you donated your TV to the orphans and then you find it in some asshole’s house, a guy who already has a wall of TVs. That’s what The Red Cross does.

They feel it’s OK because they claim their cost to bring the TV from your place to his house costs exactly what a brand new TV retails for, so it was all “charity”. And all charity is the same. That’s the reality of Red Cross blood donation.

People need blood but that doesn’t mean that’s who’s going to get it. And if they do get it, they’ll be paying for it.

The Hollywood Accounting
It’s actually illegal to sell blood, so The Red Cross doesn’t do that. They charge a “processing fee”. A fee that, for some reason, can vary greatly based on supply and demand of an area. A fee that adds up to around $2-$3 Billion a year and largely pays for most of what The Red Cross does. When you have a big company with lots of projects and expenses it’s fairly easy to pretend like all of that goes into taking donated blood and selling it for its weight in pieces of silver.

If they take in 200,000 pints of blood, bathe in 199,999 of those and then sell a single pint for $200 they count that as an entirely charitable, unwasteful transaction. According to their bookkeeping, they didn’t destroy $40,000,000 worth of donations, they donated one pint worth $200 and had $200 donated to them from a hospital. The 100 tons of blood they threw away was valued at $0. This type of accounting hides massive waste, salaries, mismanagement and gives them carte blanch to juke the stats any way they see fit.

The Red Cross seems to zero-out their blood expenses/costs the same way that Star Wars still hasn’t made a profit. It’s made a profit, and we all know it, but with enough accounting tricks and taking on the financial burden of ancillary parts of the movie studio it can be made to look like it hasn’t. They most likely wash away their expenses with your blood so they can make that 91% claim.

That 91% claim
The Red Cross claims it spends 91% of donations on helpful projects.

A valuable good is taken, but valued at zero dollars, then “?” happens to it, then it’s sold for hundreds of dollars a pound. The claim is that no profit is taken and that nothing of value was donated to them. This is a great way to hide overhead. The money collected from selling blood becomes a ‘donation’, not a selling price. The selling price becomes a ‘processing fee’, the blood was worthless and every dime collected was ‘spent processing it’. The processing fee hides the overhead. All this combines to make The Red Cross look like an efficient charity machine and not a huge company that turns blood into cold hard cash.

In fact, there are really only 2 options. Either blood money is being used to pay for some administrative expenses or at least 45% of all cash donated to The Red Cross is being used for administrative expenses. There’s really not a middle ground when 80% of their business is operating at 101% and their overall business is operating at 91%. Strip out the 80 and that’s a 9 out of 20 inefficiency. They’re either swapping money or are a sinkhole for donators. I mean, it’s possible, like definitely possible, that both are true but I’m trying to be as supportive about this as I can be.


Whilst buildings were still smoldering during the September of 2001 The American Red Cross started their pleas for blood and money. This is when I instantly knew something was up. I didn’t have to wait for them to try to embezzle the $200M they tried to misappropriate months later, it was the blood. How many people needed blood after 9/11? 100? You either died, or you didn’t. There were very few cases between those two extremes. Yet, here they where; asking people in all states of the country to donate blood. Were they planning on shipping blood from California to New York for one of those hundred people?

Create more blood donors

No. They didn’t need blood. Not any more than usual. Sure, if they took in extra blood maybe a few more nose jobs would go down and a few more pieces of silver would be collected but there was absolutely no need for a national call for blood donation. Yet, there were ads throughout the country; using a national tragedy, that required no blood, to ask people for blood. Blood that wasn’t need and would just be thrown away months later. Was there an unseen need? Why did they do it then? The same reason they tried to steal that $200M, for long term infrastructure and monetary gains.

People were confused, scared and thusly overly-patriotic after 9/11. People wanted to help but didn’t know how. The Red Cross said they needed blood, that seemed like a reasonable sacrifice. Less than 10% of the U.S. population donates blood at least once a year. By having droves of first time blood donors there’s a much greater chance of those new donors becoming repeat blood letters. This would provide more long-term blood for hospitals and more money for The Red Cross. That’s why they did it, the ends justified the means. They stood on top of the ashes of ground zero and shaped that new-fallen crematorium into a recruitment pulpit. They lied. They lied to you to steal your blood. Blood they later threw away. But they did it for the greater good, and that makes it all OK.

Expand infrastructure

Their main goal was getting that sweet sweet blood money from newly created lifetime donors but that wasn’t enough for them. They also wanted to profit from this tragedy with straight up cash-money. Dolla dolla bills. They requested money they didn’t need and wasted much of it. They then took hundreds of millions of dollars that people specifically donated to aid those who suffered from 9/11 and set it aside for future projects. They stole money and blood from the American people just days after the worst American Tragedy in 60 years.

That’s not something that a group of good people does. That’s something a James Bond Villain does.

That’s why I hate The Red Cross.

Just missed: gays can’t donate, charged American GIs for coffee during WW2, Clara Barton’s shoddy accounting, millions in lobbying, failure in Haiti, failure in New Orleans, something something Elizabeth Dole, 16% of board appointed by U.S. President, that time they sucked at finding a vein(every time).

About Jeff Penman

Jeff was born in the back of a War Game Store on the day the first Star Trek movie came out, to a computer programmer mother and a father who wrote the story for Dragon's Lair. Jeff has an MBA, a CSM, and a penchant for sticking his nose where it doesn't belong.