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August 23, 2007


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Is 'X' not enough?

Real? REAL?? (Rankles Elites A Lot?)


Really? (adverb, synonym: "truly")

"The word truly — whenever I see it, I tend to delete it. Why say 'truly X'? Is 'X' not enough?" -- William Henry Gates III (2007)


REAL philanthropy
REAL high WASP chutzpah
real money
REAL morals tutor
REAL aristocracy
REAL conduct
REAL civilization
REAL law



Real Irony(tm)


Leaving prose aside, mine or hers, I am flattered that Catherine took note. We all know that the "superstructure" rests on the "base," but when you understand how a choice well polished bit of superstructure (like highly paid consulting to wealthy families) is pinned together, by whom, and how the pins go into the base like rivets, you have the question of risk. Do you work with what you know to profit from it, or do you try to prise the superstructure away, revealing the base, and the popped rivets. I should know better than to use the pry bar. There is no payoff in that, as far as I can see. Understanding is marginally increased, my future in cultivating upscale allies is not brightened any. Catherine is encouraging me in my foolishness. And I appreciate her show of solidarity.


It is nice when someone points out the damage before the thing falls down or breaks apart. If someone pointed out the problems with the I35 bridge and someone with the power to do something had listened.

Back in the early 90's all the basements of Chicago Loop buildings were flooded. There was a guy in city hall who was getting information and bids to fix what was then a minor problem, but nobody pulled the big alarm. I imagine if some building managers whose buildings were connected to those tunnels would have been concerned enough to motivate city hall to move at emergency pace, and maybe if that guy had called some of them the flood wouldn't have happened.

It might also help if those who screwed things up were held responsible more often.


Again, you come down to who is paid how to do what in accordance with what business, governmental, or nonprofit (or new) form of life. How do those who are paid in a certain way, in service to a particular source of income, understand themselves and their role? How do they justify and promote it, as the buildings for which it would seem they are responsible collapse? Public service, philanthropy, board service, client service, etc. are the terms that Catherine in chortelling as I deconstruct, as she notes, not to be "negative," but to how holy a higher ideal than the service of wealth, wealthy people, or wealthy families. I am suggesting, really, that wealthy families themselves are done a disservice if those who serve them look not farther than the family and its "assets," financial and human, for the justification of the work and the lives. Buddha bliss and detachment is not a justification either. Engagement by the family in making the world better might imperil their status. And so it is unthinkable, yet it happens, in figures like Tracy Gary, Anne Slepian, and Carol Newell. I am honoring philanthropy, as I understand it, by pulling apart the high class but essentially smarmy rationalizations, professional practices, and myths of my peers for whom service to wealth for a fee is in itself a high calling no matter what family is the source of that fee, and no matter how ignoble are that family's operative ideals. Finding a model that supports this open air work of challenging the ideology of those who can do most, or cause most harm, is something else. "Pay it forward," begging, busking, trust funds, or a job come to mind. The Fool sleeps in the stable. The Trusted Advisor sleeps on a feather bed.

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