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August 2010

The Road to Feudalism

If you were David Koch evaluating Beck's contribution to the Teaparty Movement, how would you rate the rally? Do the demonstrators show adequate understanding of the talking points? We must kill the government to save Freedom and America. Do we have sufficient uptake? No banners reading, "Defend the Oligarchs!" Yet such is the cause in which they are enlisted, to make America safe for the most ruthless corporate interests.  Perhaps only the strong can save the weak. The wolf may be the best guardian of the lambs. Soros is Beck's stalking horse. Has he ever discussed Koch?

Meanwhile, on my desk I have a novel, longer than Moby Dick, by Ralph Nader, Tribune of the Poor. Only The Superrich can Save Us.Perhaps Soros? Perhaps Koch? Perhaps Gates? Save us from them. Only a rich person can save us from the other rich. Wasn't this the way society was organized under Feudalism?

The Oligarchs for Freedom Foundation

Jane Mayer in the New Yorker on the political and cultural influence of the Koch family. A case study in Social Change Philanthropy in a liberatarian direction. Does anyone know if the Kochs will take the Gates Giving Pledge, or will they go the dynastic oligarch route? Maybe they need a Trusted Advisor, Homme de Confiance, Wisdom Consultant, or Morals Tutor? Just from hanging around in the sector I know the family has serving professionals worthy of the name.

Jail House Tats for the Wealth Bondage Masquerade Ball

Shirtsleeves to shirtsleeves in three generations may terrify our preppy Wealth and Wisdom clients, but we are all human under the tattoos, business suits, or designer made jailhouse stripes. Come let us drink! Life is a masquerade! The world turned upside down is our favorite song. Maybe Glenn Beck will strike up the Band on the Capitol steps. Kiss up and kick down. Some poor innocent dog will be beaten before this night sees dawn. Asked how he could afford the mock jail house leisure suit, the heir said, "My Daddy made a fortune in forprofit prisons, and now in AZ, he will make another killing. Too bad about the vets, too bad about the poor, too bad about the homeless and the undocumented workers, too bad about what was once the middle class, those morons, but I got mine, Jack!"

Summary of the themes: Wealth Bondage and the Will of God

With Wealth Bondage and the Will of God, and the discussion of related posts, we almost reached the next plateau in our discussion of the themes of this blog, and its corporate sponsor. We saw that the themes treated in the book itself, by two very intelligent highly educated authors read the wisdom of the ages from within a framework the book did not interrogate: the vulgar,prereflective libertarianism of Wealth Bondage, the esteemed funder of my blog too. The well qualified authors of the potted summaries of spiritual traditions, condescend to both the audience and some of the greatest moral and religious thinkers in history, implicitly proffering as "gospel" the gospel of wealth.

We also saw with humiliating clarity what real scholarship looks like. Tom reminded us, showed us, and with good humored ease, reduced the corruption of learning to the corruption of learning. That is not hard to do, frankly.

Tom keeps learning alive not in a Dumpster, but in a public library, with his fellow close readers. He does keep wisdom alive, he and his cohort. Again, maintaining high standards among educated people who have devoted decades to mining a tradition, one book at a time, those books including The Book of Job, Paradise Lost, The Paradiso, and who are reading for the sake of understanding and appreciation, who are reading to grow themselves, is difficult but also it is known science. We know how to do that. When all that is at stake is taste, ethics, and wisdom in a public library, sequestered from the world of wealth and power - how hard is that? Very hard, but still possible in Sarasota, and anywhere a few like minded educated folks can find a quiet place to talk.

The question you have to ask of Tom and others who have kept the faith: What would you do if you were working in Wealth Bondage with those whose decisions will shape our world? How would you convey wisdom into the minds of wealthy, proud, addled, and ignorant figures who have taken a knack, craft or product big time, but who as human beings have often very little else to offer? How would you negotiate that position, knowing that the Bank of Wealth Bondage is not interested in excuses. The Bank wants results. And results are driven by assets under management, and by wealthy ultra high net worth clients, and their heirs being totally delighted. Wisdom they want! Wisdom they shall have! Tom, how would you meet this demand?

Answer: "I would never put myself in the position of being such a whore." Agreed, Tom. I, on the other hand, read Wealth and the Will of God with other eyes. I see it as the best book that could be written by a former Jesuit, a classicist, or by me on company time, or within the shadow of the Home Office. Even then, having written it, I would expect to be out on my fanny, since the bottom line is served by the book - yes, but not as well as it could have been served by a book even more vulgar, popular, and crass, or by a video, or maybe a rock band. That is the better part of wisdom. Schervish and Whitaker could hold their own in the Sarasota great books club. You could hold your own as a Wisdom Consultant in Wealth Bondage. But the names change, the roles remain. As Hildy Gottlieb says, "People do what the system leads them to do." How then, dear Holy Spirit, will we re-engineer not the public library, but Wealth Bondage Home Office? Perhaps, Hildy is saying we keep hope alive in our own practice, meet in small groups, and suffer when the suffering comes, but it won't of course, because we hold a positive thought, as did MLK, shot through the head. I expect the suffering will come. I overheard Glenn Beck laughing in the Situation Room with my ultimate superior, Candidia, yesterday. Honor! Rally for honor but leave your guns at home! Martin Luther King does not belong to the black people alone! The world spirit is stirring and wisdom will take awhile to work its way to victory. Those who have the most compelling dream are often demonic, and they serve as useful idiots to those whose status quo is never discussed since it is the frame within which all else happens. Not that I am complaining. I appreciate the generous grant from the good people at Wealth Bondage that makes this blog possible. I speak subject to correction. Wealth Bondage and the Will of God is on sale in the lobby.Two cents of every dollar will go to build libraries, a signature initiative of Wealth Bondage Global for deep social impact, in sub-saharan Africa.

TPI Blog

The Philanthropic Initiative has a blog, with posts open for comments. They have long been a leader in philanthropic advice for "Deep Social Impact," which is in fact the name of the blog. Here they address corporate Signature Initiatives, a strategy that addresses a clearly defined social goal, enables a company to play an important leadership role within a distinctive niche, and leverages financial and other corporate resources in creative ways that maximize impact and visibility.

Noble Savages Wealth and Wisdom Retreat

Join us, if you are worth $50 million or more, for the exclusive three day Noble Savages Wealth & Wisdom Retreat in the prestigious Cruickshanks Private Game Park, formerly the National Forest. Tom Matrullo will lead a discussion of The Book of Job. I will be discussing Rousseau's Discourse on Inequality. Jack Clack, Senior Vice President in Charge of Wealth Bondage Private Family Services Group, will host your children on a two day Predator Hunt, including Wild Hogs, to help them learn the skills needed as they inherit your money and your values. College degree preferred. Loin cloth optional.

The Deboskey Group

Bruce Deboskey, a major figure in Denver as the former Regional Director of the Anti-Defamation League, has launched The Deboskey Group, offering philanthropic counsel for families, businesses, foundations, and nonprofits. The practice helps clients address these questions:

  • How would we most like to help transform our community, our country or our world?
  • What is our vision - what are we trying to accomplish with our giving?
  • Do we have a strategy to achieve our vision?
  • What charitable organizations should we support?
  • How do we decide how much to give?
  • How do we evaluate the impact of our giving?

I enjoyed talking with Bruce as he incubated this new venture. How to make a practice successful - that was not his most urgent concern. His focus is on cause and community. In the context of a death threat against him, during his time with ADL, here is how he sounds,

“The targets of genocide are always dehumanized,” he says. “We’ve seen that in Uganda, in the Sudan, in every genocide. And we see dehumanization today in the anti-immigration movement. We see some of the same kind of concepts in some of the voices in that movement.”

Moral imagination is rare; moral courage perhaps rarer. Without courage, our virtues perish.  Some give time; some commit money; some give their lives in service or outright. Bruce, thank you for your example.