Monday, June 26, 2006

Charity Maybe Not So Good

I think Mac Johnson makes some great points about the lost opportunity when the super rich to give all their money to foundations and charities:

Men who have been soundly identified by capitalist success as having unique skills in private enterprise, profit building, and competition then turn around and seek to build monuments to themselves through public venture, non-profits, and sentimental demonstrations of co-operation. It’s a little like the world’s greatest poet trying to say thanks to society by painting us a mural. It’s a nice thought, but shouldn’t he really be writing us a poem?
He's not against charity entirely, but he thinks the money could be better spent. Interesting.

3 comments:

Anonymous said...

Hard to say...

I am sure that the money will be rather "well" spent, but isn't this a bit like the whole "teach a man to fish" kind of thing?

In the end, I think this is like ALL charity in that it allows people to write a check so that they feel better about themselves...

not that this is wrong....

greg said...

All charity is not simply writing a check. The best charity is that which requires active participation not a faceless check.

Robert Cantoni said...

Really interesting article and perspective. If you have that much capital, why not put it to use doing some amazing private enterprise, directly benefiting society rather than indirectly? That's an important question, and I agree with Johnson that people should consider that option when thinking about what to do with their money. The broader point is that private enterprise benefits society in ways that public enterprise can't. The converse is also true.

In this case, however, Johnson has it wrong. Warren Buffett hasn't lost his perspective. The Gates Foundation is doing incredible work, and Buffett is making an investment with his money. Through the Gates Foundation, he'll be funding important endeavors and even some private enterprises. Buffett looked at his money, thought about how it could be used most effectively, and chose wisely.