Philanthropy: A Wing And A Prayer

The Tom B. Taker Wing.

The Tom B. Taker Wing

The problem with money is that too much of it in one place creates wealth. (It’s easy to imagine if you try.)

Money, an imaginary construct born of the human mind, is better at some things than others. What it may be absolutely worst at, perhaps, is as a yardstick for measuring the worth of human beings.

My personal theory is that the more you have the less likely you are to be deserving of it. And that truly stratospheric acquisition of wealth doesn’t provide enough atmosphere to sustain life. That’s why those with that much wealth have skin that looks like the surface of the moon.

The more a person is willing to lie, cheat and steal the greater the odds they will acquire more wealth. Inversely, honesty, playing by the rules and being a nice person reduces those very same odds.

Thus, it should seem obvious that wealth isn’t a very useful measurement of value and worth. Allowing extra privilege, power and influence based on this criteria is probably one of our greatest crimes.

Sometimes a super wealthy person will give a little money away. “Look,” people will say. “That software tycoon gave some money to charity. Isn’t that nice?” Perhaps. But it’s the one making the decision about how and where that money will be used, not the many. You don’t agree that was the best use of the wealth? Go suck an egg and/or get your own wealth.

What is charity? It’s giving something away. It’s letting go. It’s the release of power and control for the betterment of someone else. True giving wouldn’t have strings attached, would it?

If true, why are so many buildings named after the person who donated the money? That seems like a string to me. You really want to do some philanthropic giving? Let them build the building without your fucking name on it. True charity doesn’t demand, “I have to get my share of recognition for this.”

In other words, it’s just another capitalist free market win-win transaction. Nothing more than yet another contract. “I’ll give you money to buy the building if you put my name on it.”

“No deal. We’re already naming it after the little old lady who ran bake sales for our organization for the last 110 years.”

“Then no money.”

“Perhaps something can be arranged. We can negotiate.”

“I’ll send over my lawyers to finalize the donation agreement.”

I decided I wanted in on this action. It was time for me to be a player. So I went to KFC Corporation and made them a charitable offer. “I want to make a $5 donation to your cause. But, in return, I want a wing named after me. No, not a building wing. I’m being charitable here, not greedy. Just one wing. But, and on this point there may be no compromise, I get to name that wing.”

“And,” I added ominously, “I get to eat it, too.”

Luckily they agreed, and so a new philanthropist was born. “Hey, everyone! Look at me! I’m giving!”

7 responses

  1. Aw, man. I want a food named after me as well. Like a bean. One kidney bean.


    1. I always thought you were a fantastic human bean.


      1. Thank you, friend. May I steal that for a future piece-The Fantastic Human Bean?

        Because I want to.


  2. I’ve got 5 bucks to give.
    Could I be your “wing” man?


    1. Only if you are sweet and tangy.


  3. Money is definitely an artificial construct–a means to make assets easily exchangeable. It’s a pretty revolutionary and brilliant concept, really. We view it as somehow debased when compared to the old system of barter, but really it’s just a much more efficient means of asset transfer.

    I don’t think there’s anything intrinsically wrong with being rich. In college, I met a lot of rich people, and yeah, some of them were complete asswipes. But I remember one guy in particular who was so down-to-earth and friendly that it took me a long time to realize that it wasn’t a coincidence that his last name was the same as the athletic center’s.

    And in defense of naming institutions. If I were mega-rich, I’d probably throw money at a hospital to have them name it after my mom, who deserves no less.


    1. Money is an invention that makes the absurd possible. Before money you could own make a few thousand rocks. After that it would get a bit silly. Can you imagine owning 50 billion of anything? Money is that which enables the level of wealth.

      I agree wealth isn’t proof of being bad. But I believe that as wealth increases so does the odds that tomfoolery is taking place.

      I’d vote for your mom’s name on a building!


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