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Is Money Material?

May 20, 2011

It’s my week for personal introspection, apparently.  Either that, or some stuff just makes me think in weird ways.  Here’s Jack Coleman at Newsbusters remarking on the difference in attitudes between the government giving away money, and persons giving it away (especially if they’re conservative).  Here’s Robert Greenwald in an interview with Ed Schultz remarking on a particular grevious incident:

 

…the important point is that these are, as you know and as a lot of your listeners know, they’re giving hundreds of millions of dollars to destroy democracy, to buy their ideology, and to literally propagandize people. And it’s very important that we use all the possible tools to educate people, to inform them, and to satirize what they’re doing and how they’re doing it.

The horrid incident?  One of the Koch brothers donated $100M a few years back and got a theater named after him.  The donation allowed the renovation of the theater and probably permitted it to stay open.  Understand, if the government had forcibly taxed Mr. Koch and then allocated his taxes to the theater, the left would be cheering.

Okay, I get that.  The article further goes to note how much Mr. Koch and his brother have donated over $600M to philanthropic causes, and it concludes:

The Lincoln Center theater isn’t the only recipient of David Koch’s philanthropy that bears his name — so do the David H. Koch Institute for Integrative Cancer Research at MIT and the David H. Koch Cancer Research Building at Johns Hopkins.

So okay, now I’m going to comment on something else…  I always found it somewhat obscene that everything in West Virginia is named after Robert Byrd since he vectored so much tax money to projects, which got buildings named after him.  What I wonder is whether it’s any better to leave monuments for yourself with your personal money.

Obviously the two are very different.  People are allowed to buy whatever gaudy gravestones they want for their memorial sites.  If someone wants to be known as a great giver, it’s easy to find places to donate money and get it named after you.  It’s noble to be remembered for giving of your excess, moreso if it’s actually giving of your base.  Should it be advertised, though?

Thinking through this on the fly… my name is listed as a donor among doners on a couple plaques.  And the wife and I do make an obvious show occasionally of donating to a cause, though we usually don’t talk about amounts.  The amount we donate in gross is nowhere near the above, though as a percentage of actual annual income, we seem to do well in comparison.  But why compare?  And why make it a monument to your goodness?  Recently, I did a good turn for a good friend.  He then surprised me by donating a sum (I don’t know the amount, but I believe it was substantial) in my honor to one of my favorite charities.  I was truly touched, and I respect his desire to do the right thing without plastering his name all over it.

Honestly, I’m trying to think of why I started writing this. (As a note, this is why I like blogging, I don’t have to have a point.)  I like to see people give freely and cheerfully to support what matters to them.  I hope more people do it to greater amounts.  Maybe then we won’t have to worry about the government doing it for us, though apparently being public about it will get your motives called into question.  For that, I’ll stay anonymous when I can, thanks.

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One Comment leave one →
  1. May 20, 2011 10:45 am

    I don’t have a problem with this. People give money away because they like the idea. (Rather different from the government taking it.) If having your name associated with the recipient facility suits you, it seems to harm no one and was voluntarily agreed with. Like you, my name appears on some local bricks, plaques, or facilities.

    I see all of the “your tax dollars at work” signs; perhaps we should take some vicarious pleasure in that — though like the lobster and the boiling water, it may be his finest hour but wasn’t his choice.

    But the attribution of evil motives to the philanthropic giving you describe is bizarre indeed. I wish it were also surprising, but it isn’t.

    On a lighter note, the reaction to naming requests can give rise to unintentional humor: I’m on the board of a foundation — one that regularly receives and gives money in amounts usually ranging from tens of thousands to hundreds of thousands of dollars.

    We brokered a deal from a local foundation to donate money to a local medical facility. The foundation offered $500k, but wanted name recognition. Absolutely not, came the reply. It’s the principle of the thing. It would be completely inappropriate. It’s a public facility. There are other sources of support for it. It’s just wrong. The by-laws prevent it. It’s offensive to even suggest.

    “How about $1 million?”

    The name was changed.

    ===|==============/ Level Head

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