I had a chance to meet Pablo Eisenberg at Hudson Institute last week. Along with Tracy Gary, he is a long term advocate not just of philanthropy, but of social change philanthropy with an eye to those most in need. He has a eloquent and impassioned article in the current Chronicle of Philanthropy, "Are Americans Generous? - Not really." Now, how can a man who was captain of the tennis team at both Oxford and Princeton be a friend of the poor and disadvantaged? Yet he is, as is Tracy, who was herself born into money. For a certain class within the privileged classes, the felt obligation to give back is urgent. "For unto whomsoever much is given, of him shall be much required: and to whom men have committed much, of him they will ask the more." Luke 12:48. Should children of privilege be raised with such ideals, and taught them through the liberal arts? Or, should each family just pass on its own values, however mean-spirited, venal, or cramped? Do we as a society have a stake in elevating the ideals of our ruling class?
I think again of Amy Kass and her book, Giving Well, Doing Good, an anthology of literary readings for thoughtful philanthropists. While she might identify as conservative, her readings would open a dialogue with any literate donor about self, family, society, virtue, self-reliance, obligation, and justice. This is not just about conservative versus liberal knee-jerks; it is about what it means to have a responsible upper class, or a true aristocracy, as opposed to a diverse bunch of rich boors. Amy could well convene such a conversation, no less than could Pablo. We are in this together, as a society. We cannot perhaps reverse the movement of money upward to the few. Can we not at least try to elevate and renovate their ideals? Nobility - not much of it. As a self-respecting Fool I would willingly serve a King, or an Empress, yet my clients are so often just upstart businesspersons with no class whatosever. So, toss Amy's learned book in the Dumpster; ignore the ideals of Tracy and Pablo. Let's talk about Social Capital Markets instead. That is just vulgar enough to appeal to today's culturally illiterate money. Well, I am late for a consultation on a client's vision and values - Coming Candidia!