The business of giving is doing more harm than good.
As a writer and historian, I have received grants from the Mellon, Guggenheim, and Cummings Foundations. Still, despite the risk to my future solvency, I'd like to argue, for a moment, against philanthropy.The average major U.S. corporation maximizes profits as its primary goal, while paying more limited attention to social and environmental consequences. It attempts to minimize wages and the costs of material services, and does not prioritize a minimal carbon footprint and other measures of sustainability. Then, the company and its executives donate a tiny percentage of their profits to try to fix the social and environmental problems to which their business practices contribute. In the process, these donors receive sizable tax write-offs that impoverish public social and environmental programs. And most philanthropic foundations are endowed by and invest their assets in these same companies, which create the very problems the foundations address.Undoubtedly, most philanthropists mean to make the world a cleaner and more equitable place. Yet it's like trying to reduce your sugar intake by eating 125 chocolate bars every day and then swearing off the occasional Pop-Tart. It's as if the right hand has never met the left. But here is the punch line for this argument: We can all be good citizens much, much more effectively in the course of making money than in the course of giving money away.
|It's as if the right hand has never met the left.|