Robert Tomach sends word of a great new project called Changing the Present that lets you pick donations-as-gifts from an impressive number of charities. Merry Christmas.
Posts about charity
In the Times of London, Anatole Kaletsky has a boggling piece attacking Warren Buffett for giving away $30 billion to the Gates Foundation.
…Or is it a symptom of arrogance and intellectual bankruptcy, revealing how the world is ruled by a sickeningly complacent and incestuous plutocratic elite? . . .
Oh, my.Why, then, as an instinctive liberal who believes that private initiative generally delivers better results than public spending, did I start this article on such a discordant note?
Partly because dogmatic opponents of all state activity are already using Mr Buffett’s astonishing combination of wealth and generosity to create the impression that public health, international development and global warming can be adequately handled by private charity. This is a dangerous illusion.
Fair point, actually. But then he keeps diving deeper, looking for the sludge in the river.
Why then do I find him at fault? Because of the way he gave the money — in a single enormous lump, to what is already by far the largest and most dominant charitable institution. This reinforcement of monopolistic giantism contradicts all the principles of the competitive capitalism that created Mr Buffett’s fortune.
Oh, my again. So big is bad, even in charity? Well, if it involves Microsoft, apparently:
One could understand why a Russian oligarch might put all his money behind the world’s biggest foundation, run by a man notorious for his ruthlessly monopolistic practices at Microsoft, but it is depressing to see a man such as Mr Buffett, who is renowned for his shrewd understanding of competitive markets, succumbing so totally to the Stalinist belief in “economies of scale”.
He goes on to complain that Buffett didn’t use his money to set charitable agendas — as, indeed, the Gates have done. Gates is, though, the bad investor in Kaletsky’s view. And the good investor? George Soros.
All I am saying is that Mr Buffett, with wealth far greater than Mr Soros’s and an intellect at least his equal, could have created another dynamic, competitive new market in social, scientific or philanthropic ideas. By creating a new foundation or network of foundations with its own philosophy and charitable criteria, Mr Buffett could have made a real difference to the world. Now he will not.
Well, hell, it’s his money and his life and I say he should say how he wants to spend both.
Bono just posted on Comment is Free promoting his buy-red initiative as a way to squeeze virtue out of commerce:
I’m not sorry for poor Africans but I am sorry for the British and Irish public who have had to suffer the most recent outbreak of Bonoitis of which there seems to be no known cure though I hear Guardian readers are working on a vaccine …
In defence: There are some really exciting things happening on the ground in Africa and back home that are worth making a song and dance about.
To help us with the HIV/Aids emergency we have come up with the concept of Red products. Why Red? Because Red is the colour for an emergency. And 6,500 people dying in Africa every day of a preventable and treatable disease is an emergency.
Red is where desire meets virtue, where consumerism meets philanthropy, where shopping attempts to meet the need of a continent in crisis, where once HIV/Aids meant a death sentence but where two pills a day can now have you back at work in 40 days.
Really the deal is this. These brands are prepared to share their profits with the Global Fund to Fight Aids in the hope that the association with Red will bring them to new and more loyal customers. [snip]
Big business is not bad. Big bad business is bad. It is strange that it took the continent of Africa to turn an activist onto commerce, but that’s what Africans want now – to do business with us, to trade, to have dignity of labour. Of that, more later … until you find the vaccine.
Just wanted to make sure everyone knows about a Katrina project that didn’t get squeezed into the On The Media interview. I’d blogged it before but wanted to link to it again: KatrinaList.net uses the collected, distributed power of people on the internet to gather and enter data on the missing and displaced so friends, family, coworkers, and neighbors can be reconnected.
The Red Cross needs 40,000 volunteers:
About 36,000 Red Cross volunteers are currently providing food, shelter and other emergency help to about 160,000 people at 675 shelters in 23 states, an agency spokesman said. But many of the volunteers, who typically serve three-week stints in the field, will be going home soon and replacements are needed.
I gave to the fun started by former presidents Bush and Clinton after 9/11. I don’t think I’ll give to the fund they’re starting after Katrina. They’re going to give money to the governors of the states affected. I don’t know about about Alabama’s Riley, but I do not trust Mississippi’s Barbour and especially Louisiana’s Blanco to use this money well. I’m giving to the Mercy Corps.