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January 24, 2007


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Lucy Bernholz

Well, yes, the simple fact that big philanthropy is a byproduct of capitalism run amuck is part of the problem. Want to know which hyperbolic mission statement drives me most crazy "We are the X Foundation and we're here to stamp out poverty."

Just another reason the 'right' aligns so simply and the 'left' is so complex.


Lucy, thanks, I wish you were here in person, to offer you a cup of coffee and ask you a few follow up questions. In particular, when it comes to social change, is "philanthropy" the most promising term, or would it be something more like creating social capital, developing weak ties, reinventing neighborliness, the commons, or social organizing, or even the arts and folk arts? I keep thinking, as Catholic trained person, that all these terms point to the promptings of the holy spirit towards faith, hope and charity, where charity means disinterested love within a consecrated community which is in some ways an antidote to the market, a way of pointing beyond what can be measured and managed and converted to coin, or lucre as it was once called.

Philanthropy, from a more elite tradition, via Aristotle, as "civic friendship" comes close to the same thought. "Friends," so runs a Greek proverb, "reiterated by Aristotle, "hold all in common."

If we ask how to support, nurture, cultivate grassroots communities of interest and excellence online and off, it seems that philanthropy or giving is part of that, but only a part, and maybe not the driving force.

JJ Commoner

Perhaps some wag will make a movie that is a sequel to two that have made some waves in the past few years ? Combine next eposudes of Gore's An Inconvenient Truth with The Corporation into a sequel and what do you get ?

Desperate Inconvenient Personalities ?

Fahrenheit 100 Million ?

Shut Up And Sign ?

,, just jokin' around of course. The market will always let us know what is most needed.


Right, the Market knows best. So, shut up and sign up. The market makers are losing patience with you.


Pretty spot on. Gotta say that I, like many, missed the "who" question in my excitement about what Gore has done to crash the logjam on global warming. But once you do, these are obvious questions.


The Fitts materials should be read slowly and with an open and judicious mind. They ask us to pay attention to the puppeteers, not the puppets, and they suggest that the puppeters are highly successful entrepreneurs who have built an empire through hard work, courage, and ruthless best business practices, from the grassroots up in towns and cities throughout the world, but most profitably in America. The business is drugs. As as with any business the successful people buy out or buy into their less successful adjacent businesses, invest heavily in lobbying, and are big into philanthropy. As the best families of Boston in the clipper ship era became "names" from the money made in the Chinese opium trade, so Fitts suggests that those we honor, vote for, court, and debate are as a class endebted to and responsive to the Free Market whose cash flows came and still come from drugs. Coming from a crank, I would pay not attention. Coming from a deal maker, educated at Penn and Wharton, who was a Director of Dillon Reid, Assistant head of Hud, and slated to a director of the Federal Reserve, Fitts has my full attention.

What has this got to do with philanthropy? What has philanthropy to do with reputation, influence, political power, and the washing of hands?

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