At the end of Harvard's fiscal year last June, the school's endowment held more than $19 billion. That is $12 billion more than it held in 1995. That is more than a million dollars for every student -- each of whom pays 30 grand a year -- and almost a million and a half for every employee.
At what point does the Harvard fund-raising arm say ``enough is enough?'' At no point, of course. Harvard cannot imagine any cause more important than itself.
The apple falls next to the tree, to create others like it. Thus, there is a fatal error in thinking that the rich through philanthropy can take up the slack as government reduces spending for social programs. What will happen, I am afraid, is a shift of funds ever upward toward institutions devoted to the culture of wealth. The more the culture of rich and poor grow apart, the scantier whatever sympathy or common purpose might unite them. The last time we went down that road, in Victorian England, it spawned not only Dickens but Karl Marx. Today we build more prisons, and a gilded dome at Harvard.