Here in our small California community, over 300 non-profits try to provide what the government cannot.
I thought this was good and hoped the larger problems of the world might be solved the same way—until I read Peter Buffett’s editorial in the New York Times. I’ll quote a little of what he says, but read the whole piece.
Peter’s father is Warren Buffett and he heads a Foundation his father funded. This means he attends philanthropy meetings with heads of state, investment managers and corporate leaders.
“All,” he writes, “are searching for answers with their right hand to problems that others in the room have created with their left.”(my italics)
As inequality rises, philanthropy grows. In the minds of the rich, “giving back is the best way to level the playing field.”
“Lives and communities are destroyed,” Buffett says, “by the system that creates vast amounts of wealth for the few,” who then ‘conscience launder’. They “feel better about accumulating more than any one person could possibly need to live on by sprinkling a little around in an act of charity.”
“But this just keeps the existing structure of inequality in place. The rich sleep better at night, while others get just enough to keep the pot from boiling over.”
(Pot boiling over—that’s when the have-nots come after the haves with pitchforks and the gates around the gated-communities are no longer high enough.)
“Nearly every time someone feels better by doing good, on the other side of the world (or street), someone else is further locked into a system that will not allow…the opportunity to live a joyful and fulfilled life.
Buffett says what we need is systemic change, a new code. He quotes Einstein: you cannot solve a problem with the same mindset that created it.
We’re creating a perpetual poverty machine.
Check it out.