Against Philanthropy – Free Ebook

our society really admires it when rich people give away huge piles of surplus money towards the end of their lives particularly when they donate large sums of it to the Arts it seems so noble and so good what nice capitalists they are how grateful we should be to have them in our midst in recognition sometimes these rich donors have a gallery named after them where their masterpieces hang dinners are given in their honor and the odd title may be thrown their way take this big capitalists who made lots of money in construction now he’s given lots of it to preserve beautiful bits of ceramic in elegant glass cases this combination of a money-making life an artistic philanthropy follows in the footsteps of great plutocrats like Andrew Carnegie Henry Clay Frick or Andrew Mellon they made money in so-called low areas of the economy like coal maile railways abbatoirs and packing factories areas where you squeeze costs as tightly as you can and are always looking to reduce benefits as much as possible however once the money’s in the bank these rich people wholeheartedly turn their attention to higher causes among which art and all that it celebrates kindness beauty and tenderness looms are specially large we suggest a different path people should stop being good in the way they distribute their money they should try to be good in the way they make it it’s simply absurd to ignore goodness for many decades while pulling together an astonishing fortune and then later in life suddenly to rediscover one’s conscience by an act of immense generosity toward some localized little shrine of art like an opera house or a museum would it not be better and truer to the values underlying many works of art to strive throughout the course of one’s life especially within the money generating day job to make kindness tenderness sympathy and beauty more alive and more real in the world tantalizingly and tragically the difference between goodness and cruelty and most businesses is a few percentage points of profit that’s the difference between paying your workforce well and abusing them between producing products that are shoddy in products at a decent for the sake of just a tiny bit of surplus wealth wealth that isn’t strictly even needed human life is daily being degraded and sacrificed would it not be more humane if rich business people agree to sacrifice a little of their surplus wealth in their main area of activity and in the most vigorous period of their lives in order to render the workplace more noble and humane and then bothered less with dazzling displays of artistic philanthropy in their later what we’re asking for is enlightened investment where a lower return is sought on capital in the name of kindness and goodness there would be less fancy art at the end of it but the values within works of art would be far more widely spread across the earth part of the reason why the present system survives has to do with the way status is offered this is a key part of the jigsaw Wow and we ignore it at our peril the rich currently get a huge amount of status from making big philanthropic donations to the arts however they would get no respect if they claim to be limiting their wealth making potential by running their businesses in ways that made daily life slightly nicer for employees in society there is more status to be found in exploiting mines rainforests and call centres with ruthless abandon for three decades and then your animal energies have run run dry putting on a black tie jacket and funding an opera house or Museum of seventeenth-century still lives from the proceeds this strategy has to it a glamour of far greater than the infinitely more humane and therefore in a deep sense artistic task of steadily building a more agreeable world for people at a modest three percent annual rate of return which at the end of life leaves you a little except for the inherent satisfaction of having done something worthwhile with your years enlightened capitalism requires new kinds of patrons interested in making money but willing to sacrifice returns for the sake of higher goals the art is surely a lovely thing but even more valuable are the sort of things that the works of art we love celebrate kindness empathy goodness beauty at the end of the day it seems far better to have these qualities in our offices and factories than to add yet another museum or masterpiece to the nation’s collection it’s far closer to the real spirit of art to run a factory that’s attractive to be kind to workers and to treat colleagues well rather than bully fight and exploit for a lifetime and then give a Renoir to the National Gallery in one’s last year’s don’t buy the picture and give it to the nation try to make the sweetness and kindness in the picture more possible in day-to-day life for example by giving workers more time off to be with their families that’s better than philanthropy it’s true decency you you

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