Diogenes, the Mad Socrates Feed

Peripatetic Philanthropy Pedant Turned Loose

Impartially their talents scan, Just education forms the man. - John Gay,

National Expert and Advocate for Philanthropic Planning Named Chair of Philanthropy at The American College. And yet, we all know the real story: An educated fool by any other name. Still, revenge is sweet. In my new role I will be able to make people read things they would rather not read; and, I can test them for comprehension with objective tests administered by computer.  They will be at my mercy, memorizing whatever trivia I consider of the utmost importance. Ever read "The Use of Force," by W.C. Williams, himself a physician as well as a writer? No? Well, I am going to make you read it, if you take my course, read it until you gag - for your own good. (Such is the role of the Moral Tutor or Physician. We make people do what is good for them, even if they are adults and don't much like it. I only wish I had the same petty tyrannical power over politicians, religious leaders, media personalities, think tank thinkers, NSA wire-tappers, and philanthropists. Given a stick, like Diogenes's to beat them, I would fix them good. As it is I will have to take out my misanthropic rage on the paying customers, who must cower as I beat them, much as I, as a Philanthropic Advisor do,  in the presence of unchecked power. Good practice for who would be Trusted Advisors, smiling when thrashed.)

Moral philosophers as peripatetics: I guess no one can blame me if a course on philanthropy as a liberal art proves to be pedestrian.

Parrhesiast turned Pharmakos

In ancient Athens, the ritual of the pharmakos was used to expel and shut out the evil (out of the body and out of the city). To achieve this, the Athenians maintained several outcasts at public expense. In the event of any calamity, they sacrificed one or more than one outcast as a purification and a remedy. Via.

As the pro bono Morals Tutor to America's Wealthiest Families, and a Pariah in my own right, I don't know whether to find the Athenian model (of well-fed Scapegoats) hopeful or discouraging. Today, as remedy for the Wealthy Student's moral ills, I am often made the Whipping Boy in my turn. That goes without saying.  The idea, though, of being maintained at public expense prior to my being  flogged and incinerated in accordance with Athenian tradition would be an improvement over my current situation.  Call me Foolish, but I am happy as sacrificial victim, turned satirist, to do my bit for the World We Want, if only I can be maintained at public expense, pending my moment of truth.

You may find this funny. Maybe laughter is the best medicine, Sire. If I make you laugh, perhaps that will restore our community even better than having me flogged seven times on the penis with squills, wild fig branches, and other wild plants, and finally burned on wood from wild trees with my ashes scattered into the sea and winds in order to purify the city of its ills,  if it please Your Majesty.

Return on Reputation: Mission Aligned Investing

C.A. Fitts:

So long as the profits of piracy can be reinvested to affirm the legitimacy and prestige of the pirates, our financial system will be predicated on the theory that --- as the Roman Emperor Vespasian said -- "Pecunia non olet," or "Money has no smell."

Duly noted. There has to be a good honest buck in there somewhere for us Morals Tutors and Philanthropic Consultants. I have always been partial to pirates. As winners in a corrupt world they refresh the gene pool and pass on world-conquering value-systems to their children. I just hope that certain satirists don't screw this whole thing up for us honest dealers. Philanthropy is best conducted in an air of sanctimony, as Albert reminds me, whenever I fall off the wagon.

The Happy Tutor's Cure for Tapeworms

The Happy Tutor, the master to whom I was apprenticed in our noble trade, during my years in Wealth Bondage, when I was young and foolish, before I was born again as a Morals Tutor to America's Wealthiest Families, is almost 500 years old. I assume he was in his thirties in 1515 when he starred in Erasmus's The Praise of Folly.  Some say he is much older than that, older than Romulus and Remus even, old maybe even as Dionysus himself.  Tutor can always be found wherever the faithful make merry in Carnival. You can see him moving among the Monks, Kings, Queens,  CEOs, Trusted Advisors, Butlers, Courtiers, Beggars, and Machiavels, with his Jester's Cap and Bells pushed back on his neck, his eyes aglint with sadistic glee, looking for some lovely upscale sinner to spank into virtue. Some say The Happy Tutor lives inside Wealth Bondage. Others say he inhabits a Dumpster on its margins where Wealth Bondage proper abuts the public square. (Philanthrocapitalists say the public square is a service of  Wealth Bondage provided as an amenity to its Private Clients, and made available to ordinary people from time to time under a double-bottom line master contract with binding one way opt out. Whether that's so or not I do not know.)

Anyway, to bring you up to date, I dropped by the Dumpster after work today to talk with my old mentor. When he is not pretending to be a teacher, he often pretends to be a Physician. (It is all a way to get girls, honestly.) He said, raising his forefinger high in the air, that he had found a cure for the tapeworm. "They are parasites that inject you with a chemical that makes you long for what kills you. The more you consume, the more the tapeworm consumes you. The more you eat, the hungrier you are. You can tell someone has the tapeworm when they begin to talk about Freedom all the time as they compulsively feed their face . Freedom is what tapeworm people call it when they have the tapeworm inside them, eating them alive. Through contact with food, or clothing, or money touched by the infected person, the tapeworm spreads throughout the marketplace. It has become an epidemic, but everyone is happy, feeding away, and passing on the tapeworm to those they love. It has become a huge public health crisis, though no one talks much about it.  Now, you will be glad to hear, I have found the cure! To get the tapeworm out of a consumer's system you can go at it from either end, Phil," he said, "if you know what I mean. You can reason with them, of course, as you do, Phil, for all the good that does, or...." And then he began to rummage among his sacks of garbage for some kind of medical implement. I did not wait around to find out what. I have known him of old. You are better off not messing with him when he is in that crazy mood.   

In Imitation of Pope's Imitation of The First Satire of the Second Book of Horace

Phil: There are some readers  (I hardly believe it, but I'm told) to whom my Satires seem too bold.

Friend: Phil, you know, you catch more flies with honey than with vinegar.

Phil: Fine, but how am I with flattery to cure the wealthy of vanity?

Friend: To each client the client's own vices. Who are we to judge? We are here but to serve. We help clients live their values and pass them on to their children. It is noble work we do.

Phil: If a client had syphyllis would you work with him to pass it on to his children? How then can we work to pass along the clients' vice and folly, their hypocrisy,  though they call it "family values"?

Friend: Syphyllis is a disease. Corruption is in the eye of the beholder. Who are we to judge what is high or low, noble or debased, healthy or corrupt, authentic or hypocritical, in good faith or bad faith? A tree is judged by its fruits. What have been the fruits of your labors? How many have you cured? How much have you earned? How many referrals do you get? With your tart tongue you injure only yourself. No one basically cares what a loser like you thinks. Look at you! Naked on a sack of garbage. And if you don't mind my saying so, you really do stink.

Phil: I have the empire within.

Friend: You mean you are insane? Everyone says so. And you yourself admit that you are at best a World Class Fool.

Phil: Here in the Dumpster on the mildewing pile of great books, I.....

Friend: Phil, if you will excuse me, there goes Bill Gates. Bill! Bill! Brilliant speech at Davos! I have read it 1,000 times and have only begun to assimiliate its wisdom. Yes, I have blogged it every day and will until you return my calls!

End Note: Provided as a public service for the instruction of advisors to wealth by Dr. Amrit Chadwallah, curator of the Gifthub Dumpster-Ready Satire Collection: "Please compare this satire by our unique and irreplaceable genius, our national treasure, Phil Cubeta, with the original counterfeit here." Authorial note: Please for that matter compare Dr. Chadwallah to Martinus Scriblerus. And if you would be so kind as to compare me to Diogenes, or Lear's Fool, or even Thersites, I would be much obliged. Now if you will excuse me I am re-reading the Dunciad in search of a cure for madness. We are all mad and the prognosis does not look good.

Is Philanthrocapitalism Post-Political?

Tristram Hunt in The Guardian on The Business of Giving:

And this is the point: the philanthrocapitalists pride themselves as consciously post-political. "The venture-capital ethos means instead that these social entrepreneurs are almost willfully blind to ideological issues," David Brooks of the New York Times wrote admiringly before describing a dinner with Bill Gates. "He looked utterly bored as the conversation drifted to presidential campaign gossip. But when asked about which programmes produce higher reading scores, the guy lit up and became a fountain of facts and findings."

There is little engagement with the kind of structural injustices - racial, economic, social - or broader environmental, demographic or strategic challenges that require political advocacy. Having made their riches from the existing free-market model, venture philanthropists see little need to confront its problematic aspects. And, given their accelerating influence in media and government, such an approach closes down a broader ideological debate.

Silence is not a sound; white is not a color; complacency is not an emotion; indifference to injustice is not a moral failing; being super-nice and to keep it positive is not a way to shut out the cries of the distressed.  To be post political, of course, is to take for granted the hegemony of one's own ideology.  In any giving transaction, my sense is, that you can take your tone from the giver or the recipient. I find it pays  better to adopt the ideology of the giver. Things just go more smoothly that way as you build trust and confidence. There is no outside of Wealth Bondage. Giving might have seemed to be one, but Bill Clinton would tell you otherwise, as would Bush.

We are all capitalists now, or in loyal service to such. If you check out how those who warble most sweetly about philanthropcapitalism in the blogs, you will note a business plan behind it. Who is the client massaged by the message? What bank, brokerage house, association of wealthy people, or what private wealth client is buying the consulting service? The studies? The newsletter? The copy for insertion in client firm newsletter? The hooha? The panegyricks? Now, you could say the same about the Sistine Chapel Ceiling. Michaelango was in the pay of the Church. So today the commanding heights are held by the capitalist and we must all sing hosanna.

"It's a Dog's Life," as Diogenes said

As a Morals Tutor to America's Wealthiest Families, I work hard for my money, or rather for the bones I am tossed by my Private Client, she who rules us all. Unfortunately she also keeps a bulldog, Rex, and he tends to rip the scraps from my hands, often leaving me badly mauled.  I hate that dog. His dog house is bigger than my Dumpster. It is like a McMansion. He has a diamond studded collar. He has a mohair jacket for when its cold. A chef comes in every night to cook him a special bedtime snack. He has a professional dog walker. He goes to this Doggie Salon to get his nails clipped and manicured. You can imagine my chagrin when I found out from my Owner's Personne De Confiance (her former Butler who went through leadership coaching) that Rex is in Milady's will for $350,000 to keep him in the style to which he is accustomed in the event Milady predeceases him.  As for me, my Dumpster escheats to the State of TX. I get squat. For more on setting up a Trust Fund for a pet, and how much might be enough, see "It's a Dog's Life" by Hannah Shaw Grove in the current issue of Private Wealth, Advising the Exceptionally Affluent.

An Indigent Father's Advice to His Grown Children

Dear Children, Hope of my Old Age:

As you know, I have pretty much wasted my life in the liberal arts and in morals consulting to wealthy people who have zero interest in improving their morals. They go for liposuction, tummy tuck, PR makeovers, hair transplants, upscaling their spouse, or for personal trainers, dancing masters, tennis coaches, and life coaches, or for therapy, or for alternative healers, but they have no interest in buffing or burnishing their moral character per se, unless they have gone to jail and need something to show the parole board, and even then it is mostly about appearances. So, rather than pass on our family values to you, which would only perpetuate misery, I make a plea in your own best interest. Now that you are out of college and had a chance to see how the world works,

  1. Go to Business School to get your MBA, or
  2. Go to Law School, or
  3. Study Accounting or Finance, or failing that,
  4. Become a Fabulist (speech-writer, think thank thinker, publicist).

These are "coin of the realm." The market, the courts, financial statements, the management of money, or the management of public opinion are great goods - imperishable and always in season. Religion, if any, and taste, and wisdom,  or civic spirit, if any, are best left for your own private time with family and friends. If you follow the above advice you will have what is called a "Journey from Success to Significance." Given your ill-considered liberal arts education to date, that phrase may strike you as kitschy, and hopelessly almost tragically under-educated. So call it something else. The point being, kids, get rich first. The significance part is for later, if ever. Get yours first. And please budget a little for my old age. I don't see the morals consulting gig going anywhere good. And with the delirium tremens and with the $1,000 I owe at 38% per annun to the Pierre Omidyar's Social Loan Sharking Venture for the abscessed tooth I had extracted (an operation not to be repeated since it was my last tooth), my future is not what I had hoped it would be, when I first set out to be a Morals Tutor to America's Wealthiest Families.

Children: Remember, "Charity starts at home." A few thousand a year in my case from both of you (that is, say, $5,000 each, more when you can afford it) would make all the difference. My life has amounted to nothing, but the advice I give you now has cost me a world of hurt and is as good as gold. This sorrowful wisdom is your only inheritance. Yet, invest it wisely and you shall be rich beyond measure.

God bless, and please send money,

Your devoted Father.