In a capitalist society, those who have the money make the rules. If a donor's intentions are not served, the donor may not make future gifts. Yet donor intentions can be parochial, misguided, counterproductive, vain. Think of King Lear and his "intentions," how flawed. If the intentions of the wealthy, whether the money flows through commerce, corporate power, lobbying, or gifts are to rule us, surely each of us as a citizen has a stake in forming and chastening and uplifting the intentions of these brutes. Yet few do anything about the deplorable state of donor intentions. The only one I know to work at them systematically, spanking the donor until the intentions are less self-serving, is the Happy Tutor; people of better sense, like Martin Wooster play the role of courtier, never questioning a modern Lear, only serving, like the dimwitted servant, Kent, or the Machiavellian daughters, Goneril and Regan. Such is realism. The likes of Cordelia, Lear's Fool, or the Happy Tutor come but once every few centuries. I wish I had their courage. I am lucky if I can keep my mouth shut, and go along to get along. I dearly hope I can make a good living off wealthy people, stay respectable, and live in a real house. Let heroes work out of a dumpster or a stable. Me, I like my bread well-buttered. What Candidia wants, Candidia gets. Let the hidden hand sort it out. If I don't give her what she wants someone else will. It may be undignified to serve her vile intentions, but I have made that sacrifice and expect my recompense. The servant is worthy of his hire. (More on donor intent and Martin Wooster here at philanthropybeat. I hope Martin will respond in kind; I just wish I could afford another email from him, but gift blogging doesn't pay very well and I am behind on the rent.)
You can follow this conversation by subscribing to the comment feed for this post.