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March 05, 2008


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Sean Stannard-Stockton

Only uncouth money managers (of which their are many) lack Beauty, Mirth, and Good Cheer. Warren Buffet for example has all three in spades (read a couple of his annual reports if you don't believe me).

Also, note that in the Utopia you link to, no money managers are mentioned, just people coming together to apply sophisticated tools in their mission to fight the good fight. The heart of that story is not the tools, it is the people coming together.


It is a money manager's fantasy, Sean. You want your limited world of road shows, and pitch books, and value-added analysis with pie charts to be the model for the whole of civil society. I was waiting for your to bring in the efficient philanthropic frontier, and negative correlations between liberal and conservative causes, and alpha and beta. You really should get out more.

I am having fun with you, I thought it was a good and revealing post. What was missing in it was caritas, human kindness, the commons, cooperative as opposed to competitive advantage, human flourishing, giving as a personal and civic virtue, any awareness of the philosophical, ethical, religious or historical traditions of philanthropy; but it was a compelling view of an Ownership Society run mad. Kind of like those Rapture Books, taking a very narrow view of things and presenting it as final and inclusive. What you present as Utopia strikes me a spiritual and cultural wasteland. I'll bet those pitch meetings you imagine, those roadshows, take place in some Ramada Inn, in the ballroom. And what you also left out was the fakery and drudgery and endless hours that the nonprofits had to put into dummying up the pitch books, managing to the numbers, and essentially running their world to suit the narrow mindset of your own.

"Don't attempt to cure what you don't understand." To begin by seeing giving as a market is already to show that you don't know what philanthropy is - a third sector, not a fouled up version of business, but its antidote.

Imagine a panel of Priests meeting to judge your business. You would wonder how that happened, how the Priests seized the high ground and set themselves up as a judge of business. Yet, you have no trouble setting up a panel of business people to judge the nonprofits, including churches, schools, arts organization to whose ethos you are it seems numb.

What you propose is, in effect, a hostile takeover of the very sector you putatively mean to support. I can understand why a money manager like you would propose it - you know no better. But an educated and cultured person like Lucy Bernholz? I find that shocking.

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