Philanthropy Needs To Be Revived

Mark Laluan

As we contemplate further cuts to the state’s social safety net, it behooves us as a society to find alternative ways to provide these vital services.

No one wishes to see their tax assessments grow larger and increased corporate taxes hamper the growth of industry. Yet the government is forced to collect these revenues to provide for the services that those with means have traditionally provided to society.

Once upon a time not too long ago, local communities and industry partnered together to provide many of the “hand-outs” big government gives to the needy. In addition, such combinations invested heavily in the arts and endowed public institutions such as libraries and schools to foster intellectual depth within all American citizens.

Philanthropy on such a scale is a dying art in America. While Americans do continue to give and give regularly to charitable causes, in many cases those dollars make their way overseas.

A prime example is the Gates Foundation’s work in helping in the elimination of river blindness and malaria as well as providing access to computers and the internet for children across the developing world.

Yet the grand tradition of philanthropic investment by Americans has undergone a gradual decline in recent decades. Gone are the Rockefellers, Hearsts and Carnegies who would spend their wealth on endowing libraries, fine arts, religious charities and places of education.

These interests have been replaced by a jet-set generation of aristos who prefer to lavish money on themselves before investing in the community. Indeed, the act of philanthropy in its proper form is an investment in future productivity.

As Hamilton noted, philanthropy is not about the “wealthy giving handouts to the poor” and thus creating a culture of dependence. Philanthropy was about those with means investing their money into projects for the public good with a focus on improving the quality of life of all citizens.

Such improvements in the quality of life create an atmosphere of upliftment and include the broad mass of the public in benefits of the market economy.

This is “trickle down economics” in its truest sense.

Those with means have everything to gain by investing in society in such a manner. Qualified individuals to staff the halls of and run the machinery of industry are best forged in a cultured, literate society.

With the world shuddering from one crisis to the next, the reliability of a globalized economy in providing vital goods and services becomes a myth. A regional war is all that is necessary to disrupt the flow of trade.

With the Middle East set to explode and tensions in East Asia at an all-time high, industrialists should wake up to the fact that the “good times” are about to come to a screeching halt.

The renewal of an American industrial base is both a national security issue and in the best interests of those with means. It both frees our nation from reliance on foreign sources of labor and ensures a reliable flow of revenue free from violent disruption to those with means.