Does making millions really help the world’s poor? Many Wall Street employees who earn more than the average worker are making the argument that it is more important and worthwhile to make a lot of money first to be able to donate a lot of money later. These people point to billionaire do-gooders like Bill Gates, Warren Buffett, and Mark Zuckerberg to prove that those who give the most are those who have the most to give.
At first it seems logical that Wall Street could end global poverty. Take a simple scenario of a Wall Street employee. If that person earns hundreds of millions of dollars per year, for example, they could choose to donate all but a few million to charities that help alleviate global poverty. They and their family would still be able to live a very luxurious lifestyle, and millions of people around the world would reap enormous benefits from all the donated money. Now, imagine if every millionaire and billionaire did the same thing. It would make a huge difference. But the important question to ask is will Wall Street end global poverty with employee earnings?
John Paulson, a hedge fund manager, earned $5 billion in 2010. While he did donate a portion of that money to charity, most of the money went to organizations that were less about social change. Paulson’s largest donations went to a business school in New York ($20 million) and the Central Park Conservancy ($100 million). Those donations aren’t bad, since giving any money to any charity is certainly commendable, but that $120 million may have gone further if it had gone to help starving children or provide clean drinking water to the poorest areas of the world.
Paulson certainly isn’t the only person to do this, since many people (billionaires and everyday employees) choose to give money to charities that are closest to them personally. Whether it’s the college from which they graduated, an animal shelter, or even a videogame organization, many people feel compelled to give back to charities or organizations that helped them, and may not consider the fact that there could be better uses for their money. So while it’s certainly not a bad thing for Wall Street millionaires and billionaires to donate to charities that touch their personal lives, in order to benefit the most number of people in the most significant ways, it could be wiser to donate to a charity that focuses on saving lives.
– Katie Brockman
Source: New York Magazine
Photo: American Security Project