Sad news from San Francisco, today. It seems Mark Zuckerberg, who has by age about thirty amassed a fortune of some 45 billion paper dollars with his “Facebook” obscenity, intends to give most of its income away. He and his paediatrician wife, Priscilla Chan, announced this in the most sick-making, sentimentalizing way possible: framing it as a letter to their newborn daughter. Their huge fortune is now earmarked (if they are telling the truth) to “advancing human potential and promoting equality” — i.e. the usual smug liberal and progressive causes. I stagger to imagine the amount of harm that much money may do.
And yet hope springs eternal, even in worldly affairs. Perhaps, when the stock bubble finally bursts, Facebook will implode. The company could go bankrupt and its shares fall to nothing, in which case the “philanthropic” scheme evaporates, too. Or even if some of the money can be expended, we must compare the scale. The income from, say, 44 billion will be at most a few billion a year, which is an amount the USA government already spends every hour or two — almost all of it in ways destructive of public morals. We must keep our sense of proportion.
On the other hand, much “leveraging” is got by devoting most of the private money to lobbying for specific public policies. It costs comparatively little to line the pockets of the few, rather than the many. An expert once told me that a dollar of lobbying will typically leverage one hundred from the tax revenue, plus another hundred in government borrowing. A little can be made to go a long way.
America’s present “open borders” immigration policy is a good example of how focused lobbying can get results, even when an overwhelming majority of the general population are appalled by the very idea. The Zuckerberg lad is already a big contributor to that cause.
Lobbying works, and here’s why. No senior public official could want to retire on a state pension, however large, when he can have more millions by playing the game well. Look at the “before” and “after” accounts of almost any prominent politician. He goes into office very charming, and comes out very rich. It is a far more lucrative trade than anything in business or finance — even in such specialized forms as bank robbery. Better, by modern methods of mutual back-scratching, there is much less legal risk.
But let us suppose all Zuckerberg’s cash spills into the usual media-promoted “good causes” directly. Even foundations that raise money for the victims of well-publicized natural disasters have been known to spend as much as 5 percent of their takings on the victims themselves. The Zuckerbergs’ sop letter mentioned education and medical research as possible targets for at least some of their largesse.
In the case of schools, there is an increasingly obvious, inverse relation between positive academic results, and spending. The higher teachers’ salaries, the lower their standards, thanks to unions and the like. But most of any fresh load of sugar will be “invested” instead in administrative expansion, where only negative results can be achieved.
Medical “research” does similar direct damage. Huge foundations are created to “fight” every imaginable human ailment, and find new ones on which to build fresh fundraising efforts, should any of the old ones go stale. Grand sums are expended on “public awareness” campaigns, to encourage hypochondria and psychosomatic disorders. (I suspect, for instance, that the principal cause of lung cancer today is grisly health warnings on packets of cigarettes.) Money is raised in billions to “find a cure” for whatever. (Snake oil sales were on a much smaller scale.)
At the most elementary level, people should try to understand cause and effect. Vast numbers come to rely upon the metastasis of these soi-disant “charitable” bureaucracies. And if a cure is ever found, they will all be out of their overpaid jobs. Moreover, it is almost invariably some isolated, eccentric, unqualified and unfunded tyro, who makes the fatal discovery. That is why one of the principal tasks of any large medical foundation is to locate these brilliant “inventor” types, and sue them into surrender.
Does gentle reader know that almost all the increase in human longevity, over the last century or so, can be attributed to people washing their hands and taking showers? And most of the rest to better sewage disposal? Or that it took until almost the middle of the last century for life expectancy in the West to rise to levels last seen in the parish records of the Middle Ages? Which was when “modern” hygienic practices were last observed. (Large, centralized hospitals are the most efficient spreaders of infection today.)
Painkillers are nice, and I’m inclined to keep them, only if we realize that the blessing is mixed. They turn our minds away from futurity; they displace faith in God, to faith in doctors. They create the mindset that embraces “euthanasia.”
Of course, the main target of contemporary liberal “philanthropy” is not on saving lives at all; rather on killing off babies, in Africa especially. It is what the proggies used to call “population control,” until they invented better euphemisms. That is what truly excites the footsoldiers in the foundations of all the Bills and Melindas; and brightens the corridors of the United Nations. That and the (still historically recent) “climate change” agenda.
A last word on statistics. It depends how you count. Count all those aborted as “dead,” and it will be seen that life expectancy is once again falling; that infant mortality is steeply on the rise. The international toll is unbelievably high; far higher than from the plagues and genocides through all previous history. And this without anticipating the possible effects of divine retribution.