Merry Christmas! Maybe it’s because of some vestigial religious undertones to this holiday, or maybe it’s because the end of the tax year is rapidly approaching, along with the urgency of maximizing your annual deductions. Either way, this is a particularly philanthropic time of year. And since I’m personally feeling very charitable right now, I’ve decided to do you all the favor of telling you that when it comes to philanthropy, you’re doing it wrong.
Eduardo Porter, today, has a great column about philanthropy, explaining that although Americans place trust in charity to help those in need, that trust is largely misguided. For one thing, he points out, “most philanthropists, generous as they may be, don’t usually see replacing government services as their job.” And more generally, human services charities receive less than 12% of all US charitable giving.
It was quite surprising when Jed Rakoff, scourge of Wall Street, sent Rajat Gupta down for only two years on Wednesday. After all, federal sentencing guidelines suggested that Gupta should get a sentence four times longer than that. And Gupta wasn’t some small-time crook grubbing for dollars with inside information, either: he did enormous damage to the reputations of central icons of our capitalist system, like McKinsey and Goldman Sachs. But for all that, said Rakoff, he is at heart a good man:
John Paulson lives in a 28,500 square foot townhouse at 9 E 86th Street on the Upper East Side, opposite the Neue Galerie and just steps away from Central Park. He’s invested a lot into his townhouse, which hosted a big fundraiser for Mitt Romney in April. And now he’s given even more to Central Park: $100 million, to be precise. “The park is very large,” he explained to the New York Times, “and its endowment is relatively small.”
In 2002, Richard Florida published The Rise of the Creative Class, and created a whole cottage industry of people — himself foremost among them — flying around the country and the world, telling cities how to attract creative people and thereby thrive. In truth, however, these cities didn’t need much persuading. Between 1998 and 2001, expenditure on creative-industry construction projects — theaters, museums, performing arts centers — quadrupled, from a little over $400 million per year to almost $1.8 billion. Here’s the chart, from Set in Stone, a major new research project from the University of Chicago’s Cultural Policy Center:
The thing that struck me first about Bloomberg’s new updated-daily Billionaires Index was the fact that Bill Gates and Warren Buffett are still in second and third place, respectively. Aren’t they both supposed to have given most of their money to the Gates Foundation? How can they give it all away and yet still be among the world’s richest people?
When Mitt Romney started plugging his friend’s for-profit university as a solution to the problem of rising higher-education costs, he was surely doing well by a major campaign donor, while giving pretty bad advice to potential students: no one should enroll in an $81,000 21-month program in “video game art” if it has — as this one does — a graduation rate of just 38%.