You have to give to get
Posted by aogMonday, 23 April 2007 at 11:51 TrackBack Ping URL

The Nation whined a while back about Charles Simonyi blowing bigs wads of cash on a space travel adventure. Apparently it’s not enough that Simonyi donates generously — the article notes that

In 2003, Simonyi finished 23rd in the Slate 60, the annual ranking of largest American charitable contributions

— he must never spend any money on just having fun for himself.

Beyond the obvious absurdity of that, there is a larger mistake which is that Simonyi (and wealthy people like him) can only contribute to society by spending the wealth they have accumulated, which is a fundamental misunderstanding of capitalism in particular and economics in general. It is rare indeed that an individual becomes rich without making other people wealthy and many people better off. By the time Simonyi has enough money to pay for an orbital ticket, he’s already benefited society far more than he could even if he spent every penny he had. Any charitable giving is icing on the cake and not of any real significance.

This attitude is likely fed by the common image of the “self-made man”, the lone capitalist getting rich. But real world capitalism is enabled by a network of cooperation and mutual assistance which is why far more of the created wealth ends up in hands other than those of the guy at the top. He’s likely to have the largest single slice, but that’s very different than having most of it. Anyone against market economies has a strong interest in concealing or obscuring that, hence ignorant ranting articles like this.

Via Transterrestrial Musings

Comments — Formatting by Textile
Ali Choudhury Monday, 23 April 2007 at 14:01

I don’t see the point really. It’s not like you can see or do anything interesting.

Annoying Old Guy Monday, 23 April 2007 at 14:05

It’s the having done, not the doing.

On the other hand, people pay to fly the Vomit Comet for the zero-gee experience and that’s just for a few seconds of it.

Michael Herdegen Monday, 23 April 2007 at 14:25

Landing in the Slate 60, at any position, even for just one year, really ought to be charity enough for any one person’s lifetime. Anything that they give after that is just social gravy.

But possibly The Nation can’t work out how extraordinary it is to be one the top 60 most charitable households out of the ~110,000,000 in America. Math isn’t the Left’s forte.

On the other hand, The Nation really ought to be very, very skilled at assessing charity, since they’ve lost money for 138 out of the 142 years that they’ve been publishing, and are sustained only by people who feel sorry for them.

Annoying Old Guy Tuesday, 24 April 2007 at 14:16

Looks like Simonyi had a wonderful time up in orbit, finding much of it very interesting. From what I can read, it would beat the heck out of a Sinatra concert.

Post a comment