How hedgies fight pneumonia

By Felix Salmon
September 14, 2009
Lance Laifer is a good guy, with his heart in the right place and a history of raising millions of dollars for important causes. But I don't think his latest idea is his best ever:

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Lance Laifer is a good guy, with his heart in the right place and a history of raising millions of dollars for important causes. But I don’t think his latest idea is his best ever:

Hedge Funds vs. Malaria & Pneumonia is asking everyone in the hedge fund industry to wear blue jeans to work on November 2. The reason is simple. The two million children who die of pneumonia often turn blue when they get pneumonia. We believe that if everyone in the hedge fund industry wears blue jeans on World Pneumonia Day we will draw a massive amount of attention to the problem and encourage people all over the world to figure out how they can stop this massive killer of children. Surprisingly it is relatively cheap to diagnose and treat pneumonia (meds cost less than $0.50) and most pneumonia deaths can be prevented by vaccines, which are already on the market.

Wearing blue jeans to the office is an easy (and free) way to help change the world for the better.

Hedgies wearing blue jeans to the office because that’s the color that children turn when they die? On a scale from “ineffectual” to “downright offensive”, where would you put this one?


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You know what hedgies could do that would be really effective? Give 1% of their income to the Global Alliance for Vaccines and Immunisation.

Posted by Ginger Yellow | Report as abusive

Ummmm… why not ask for a donation in order to wear blue jeans to work?

Posted by Mitch | Report as abusive

What a jackass.

Posted by Jon H | Report as abusive

By which I mean the originator of this idea. It really shows what an exaggerated sense of self-importance these people have.

Gosh, if the tiny number of people who work for hedge funds wear jeans, why, virtually nobody will even notice unless they happen to walk into a hedge fund office in Greenwich, and see people walking around, but then, maybe the hedgies often wear jeans.

Dude’s got his head stuck in his ass.

Posted by Jon H | Report as abusive

“An exaggerated sense of self importance”… The world doesn’t revolve around hedge funds or the people who work for them. This effort is to raise awareness globally so that something can be done about it. Fortunately there are people like Lance in this world who are trying to make a difference.

On a scale of ‘ineffectual’ to ‘downright offensive’ where would you put 2 million children dying a year Felix? How can the problem be fixed if people don’t know about it.

The world is a dangerous place, not because of those who do evil, but because of those who look on and do nothing – Albert Einstein

Posted by frank | Report as abusive

“Wearing blue jeans to the office is an easy (and free) way to help change the world for the better.” This issue was settled a long time ago – there is no such thing as a free lunch (or change). The fact that someone who probably has some kind of financial planning certification doesn’t understand this MOST basic of economic principles might tell us something about why the economy is in such poor condition. How about wearing yellow to stamp out jaundice, polka dots to destroy small pox, or maybe one of those “bald wigs” you get at a joke shop to help cure mercury poisoning, since victims of mercury poisoning go bald before they die?

Posted by David | Report as abusive

On a scale of “ineffectual” to “downright offensive” this idea falls right on “idiotic.”

Posted by Reality on the Ground | Report as abusive

What’s intellectually offensive is that pneumonia kills more children than any other illness. If wearing blue jeans gets people to pay attention to this then its fine with me. If we could get hedgies and others to donate even 1% of the $32 billion that Wall St got for their bonuses last year, we’d have a lot less pneumonia. And a lot less to be “offended” by. Turn your blog around, and focus on the offense generated by the lack of attention given to pneumonia, not the other way around.

On a scale from “ineffectual” to “downright offensive”, where would you put this one?


Posted by marisa | Report as abusive

I like it, It has to start somewhere. Doesn’t it?

and hopefully it’ll snowball to a greater effect. In this economic climate, that’s all I’ll come to expect. 1st world people in general are very myopic.

I know I personally have done NOTHING.

Posted by wayneski | Report as abusive

Pneumonia kills millions of children needlessly every year. If you think that bringing attention to this atrocious neglect by using jeans to represent the state of a child dying from pneumonia is inappropriate, offensive, or idiotic, then you should visit some hospitals or villages where mothers helplessly watch their children in anguish die this brutal death. Lance is a hero!!!

Sam Rabinowitz, M.D.


Hardly! Seems this commentary and all the responses are giving attention to the cause. Exactly the point!

“The legacy you leave is the life you lead” Felix. Are you really on the right side of this issue? I’m not sure “let’s snicker at the obviously ego-centeric people who are motivated to help dying poor children” is the statement you want to make here. Or if it is, then I find you offensive and hopefully ineffectual.
To your point, try telling Lance Armstong that wearing symbolic items to further a cause is ineffective. “Live strong”, anyone? How about (Red) campaign? Green wristbands in Tehran?

Posted by APB | Report as abusive

“I like it, It has to start somewhere. Doesn’t it?”

So basically a bunch of rich folks wear jeans for a day. Big deal. Elementary school kids would at least collect pennies. That would make a difference.

Hedgies wearing jeans to make themselves feel good helps *nobody*.

It’s frankly offensive that hedgies, who benefit from a favorable taxation cutout just for them, would think an empty symbolic choice of clothing would be some great gesture, as if they have nothing else they could do.

Why not have a fundraiser? Why not ask hedgies to DONATE, say, $25,000 in order to get the privilege of wearing jeans. Why not print up matching T-Shirts that *actually* convey a message, instead of just wearing clothes that everybody wears anyway.

Otherwise, all you have is a tiny group of people who get an excuse to dress down at the office. They won’t spread anything, because they live in such a limited social network. Who’s going to see their jeans and “learn” as they drive alone to and from the office in Greenwich?

You want to draw attention to the cause? Wear jeans and a garishly-colored t-shirt with a message about pneumonia to your usual 5-star restaurant. Hey, you could even try going table to table asking for contributions! That’d certainly get some attention.

Posted by Jon H | Report as abusive

While I don’t know much about hedge funds, I do know a bit about human nature. During the work day, it is always a challenge to think about the bigger issues of humanity and suffering around the world.

While the hedge fund industry is a place of heated competition, it also has a capacity (and a history) of great generosity to those in need.

The goal is not simply to wear blue jeans, but to build a marketing campaign of sorts around it, distributing information and participating in a shared charitable event. Its effectiveness is not limited to the idea itself, but to the commitment of participants to open their hearts.

Blue Jeans Day helps us remember that pneumonia forces the parents of 2 million children a year to experience the inexpressible agony of burying a child who didn’t have to die. We can use opportunities such as this to more fully appreciate what we have and to live up to our best images of ourselves.

It can be enormously helpful to individuals and firms to remind themselves of their higher aspirations with simple symbols and shared experiences, and Blue Jeans Day is an imaginative way to do that.

Dave Rubenstein
Best Shot Foundation

Posted by David Rubenstein | Report as abusive

“Green wristbands in Tehran?”

A tiny handful of top .5%-income people wearing a common item of clothing (jeans) is a very different thing that a widespread movement across a population wearing an unusual or distinct item.

People wear wristbands and the like when they have little else they can do. Hedgies have far more power and influence than Iranian college kids. “Wear jeans” is a pathetically flaccid gesture from a hedgie.

Posted by Jon H | Report as abusive

Ok Jon H. so now you know about the terrible plight people afflicted with Malaria are in. How much are you down for.

I will agree jeans can be seen as silly, but look at the dialogue it has started. I would say the onus is on you Jon H., and your ilk, to come up with a better idea and get the ball rolling with a donation.

Or, you can keep moaning while others try to get things done.

Posted by paul s | Report as abusive

“A tiny handful of top .5%-income people wearing a common item of clothing (jeans) is very different thing that a widespread movement across a population wearing an unusual or distinct item.”

Join the movement Jon.

You don’t have to be a “hedgie” to participate. I’m not.
Take action. If blue jeans aren’t your thing, find another way to raise awareness. There are many suggestions on the website.

Do I think every American could do more to prevent these children from being killed by no less than the negligence of rich countries? Yes. Everyone in this country could do something to prevent this tragedy. That includes everyone on this blog, in addition to hedge fund managers. So, let’s get to work.

Posted by APB | Report as abusive

I think you’ve missed the point and could make better use of your blog by highlighting an under-recognized killer of millions of children every year rather than what Hedgies should/should not be doing. Can you imagine the progress we could make against this disease if people like yourself focused on matters of importance? Maybe if you had seen a child turn blue and die from pneumonia you would make better use of the medium you have to make an impact.

Posted by HJ | Report as abusive

How many people do you know who own jeans that cost more than $100?

How many people do you know who have donated $100 to fight childhood pneumonia?

Posted by cbl | Report as abusive

its not a bad idea to wear Blue jeans on World Pneumonia day, its free of cost and every body who may not fund could recognize the day. The idea to raise fund instead..that could be done in addition to this idea of wearing Blue jeans.
Atta Ullah

Posted by Atta Ullah | Report as abusive

“It is not the critic who counts; not the man who points out how the strong man stumbles, or where the doer of deeds could have done them better. The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood, who strives valiantly; who errs and comes short again and again; because there is not effort without error and shortcomings; but who does actually strive to do the deed; who knows the great enthusiasm, the great devotion, who spends himself in a worthy cause, who at the best knows in the end the triumph of high achievement and who at the worst, if he fails, at least he fails while daring greatly. So that his place shall never be with those cold and timid souls who know neither victory nor defeat.”

Posted by mark | Report as abusive