Tag Archives: Charles Feeney

Greed, Capitalism And Charity

In the same way that the Left characterizes climate skeptics as loons, educational reformers as child haters and minimum wage advocates as haters of the poor, the Left characterizes free-market capitalists as greedy bastards.  Any support shown for a system that rewards the successful is immediately attacked as shilling for the rich.

Wanna reduce taxes on corporations because corporations will move to where there are lower taxes?  You support corporate welfare.  Wanna create laws that allow businesses to hire, and then fire, the most qualified and least productive?  Then you don’t care about the poor and disenfranchised.

With all the tribalism in today’s politics you can’t get the concept through the noise.  You’re unable to penetrate the distinction between “my side” and “your side”.  It’s more important to win than it is to create a viable path forward.  I see this often in corporate America.  I see competing managers championing their idea to the detriment of the team.  I feel I’m witnessing the same thing here in our politicians.  It’s more important to “win the debate” than to actually be right.

Because of this, because the Left vilifies all those who want to create a system that rewards the producers while removing the ability to destroy value from the ineffective managers, we will never be able to have a reasonable debate that typically successful people are reasonable people who, as it turns out, love other people:

The donor whose $350 million gift will be critical in building Cornell University’s new high-tech graduate school on Roosevelt Island is Atlantic Philanthropies, whose founder, Charles F. Feeney, is a Cornell alumnus who made billions of dollars through the Duty Free Shoppers Group.

Mr. Feeney, 80, has spent much of the last three decades giving away his fortune, with large gifts to universities all over the world and an unusual degree of anonymity. Cornell officials revealed in 2007 that he had given some $600 million to the university over the years, yet nothing on its Ithaca campus — where he graduated from the School of Hotel Management in 1956 — bears Mr. Feeney’s name.

The $350 million gift, the largest in the university’s history, was announced on Friday, but the donor was not named. Officials at Atlantic Philanthropies confirmed on Monday evening that it was Mr. Feeney, a native of Elizabeth, N.J., who is known for his frugality — he flies coach, owns neither a home nor a car, and wears a $15 watch — as well as his philanthropic generosity, particularly to medical research.

It turns out that capital, in the hands of the skilled, produces significant value to all the world.  And, as a reward, the capitalist acquires significant wealth as well.  And then, in the end, he often gives that wealth away.  As if to say, “I have come, I have made a difference and now it is time for me to give it all back.”