Thursday, May 21, 2015

For the love of God, rich people, stop giving Ivy League colleges money

This post, entitled For the love of God, rich people, stop giving Ivy League colleges money, is getting a lot of traffic. I tend to agree that Ivy League schools are the least needy charities on earth:

The New York Times's Robin Pogrebin describes Schwarzman's contribution as an "act of philanthropy." It is not. Sure, it's not the absolute worst thing one could do with one's money. I suppose it's a bit better than literally piling $150 million in dollar bills together in one location and then setting them on fire, insofar as building a performing arts center employs more people than assembling a massive money pile would. It's definitely better than using the money to set up a private island upon which to hunt man for sport.

But it's hard to imagine a worse way to use the money that still entitles Schwarzman to a charitable tax deduction. Yale is not a charity. It is a finishing school that overwhelmingly serves children of wealth and privilege. Supporting its scientific and particularly biomedical research is worthwhile, but the school is already far richer than all but one of its peer institutions and has access to considerable federal funds in that area, as well. And, of course, Schwarzman isn't supporting Yale's biomedical research. He's giving its dancers a nicer stage upon which to pirouette.

Two kids in Kenya show they've swallowed their deworming pills.

Literally any other charity, save maybe Harvard, is a better choice. Schwarzman could give $150 million to distribute bednets in sub-Saharan Africa, a highly cost-effective way to save lives. He could give $150 million directly to poor people in Kenya and Uganda through GiveDirectly. He could give $150 million to deworming efforts that spare children ailments that can cause immense pain and poverty. He could give $150 million to the Open Philanthropy Project or the Gates Foundation or another group doing careful, rigorous work to determine the best ways to use charitable resources to make the world a better place. He could, in fact, do all of the above because he's crazy stupid rich.

For the love of God, rich people, stop giving Ivy League colleges money

Updated by Dylan Matthews on May 12, 2015, 8:50 a.m. ET  

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