Philanthropy is very American.  It is part of our culture learned from early on.  Volunteerism is good, give back, help mankind and those who are in need. 

When I was the Foundling Museum today, I spoke to an elderly woman who was manning the place.  I was so impressed with the history of the Foundling Museum and the people who made it their mission to help orphans.  Of course, at that point of British history, there were literally thousands of children roaming the streets.  In the US, it was the Catholic church that became the sanctuary for single parents or unwanted children/babies. 

At our kids school, LREI, being philanthropic is the mantra, not necessarily through money but but giving back as a volunteer. through community service to name one area.  Give back, give back, give back.   At our school, there are a handful of Europeans who are taken back by the expectation to give back be it financially or anything for that matter.  It isn't part of their culture.  Spread the wealth is not necessarily something embraced in cultures that are heavily class oriented vs ones like America that embrace the ability to be anything you want to be. 

There is a group in the US who during the heyday of the Internet (Web 1.0), there was so much money being made in South America from young entrepreneurs that they went down there and spent years educating the new wealth to give back to their communities.  The tax code doesn't embrace it but certainly the need is there.  The group is called Endeavor and they were actually quite successful and continue to do work in South America. 

Take a look at the Middle East.  The explosion of money in London comes from many wealthy Middle Easterners pulling their money out of their homelands and feeding their cash in to countries where they feel stable and gives them the opportunity to live as they see fit.  At one point, not sure if it will be in my lifetime, but there will be a group of Middle Easterners who want to return to their homeland, raise their families, and be a part of the fabric of their community without the religion overtones hanging over their heads.  That will be a seminal moment and in many ways philanthropic.

I am a big believer in being philanthropic.  Those who have are responsible to give back to those who do not.  It isn't all about money it is about anything.  It doesn't always work perfectly.  There are more than a handful of non-profit organizations that are so terribly disorganized that although they mean to do good, they don't and they become black holes for pouring money down.  Hence, that is why I believe that there needs to be a little bit more regulation from Foundations in the non-profit world.

Knowing how philanthropy is such an American thing, it is amazing to me that there is such a push back on health care for all.  Yes, I know there is big money involved and people don't want the Government to tell them how to take care of themselves but if you truly pare down to the basic principals, our country is one of the only civilized countries that does not provide health care for all their citizens.  Europeans might not have a basic instinct to give back but at least they don't leave people to suffer or worse die because they don't have health care. 

Health care in our country is and should be thought of as a philanthropic gesture.  It is and should be a moral issue just like volunteerism.  I might not agree with a variety of pieces in the supposed legislation but I do believe that there must be a way for every person, no matter who you are or what you do or what you make, that you can get health care.  To me, that is a real give back deed. 

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Comments (Archived):

    1. Gotham Gal

      Very interesting

  1. GraemeHein

    Dambisa Moyo’s Dead Aid is a great book explaining the evils of government philanthropy.Further expanding US government’s role in health would be a crime against humanity by destroying the only real market for new drugs, devices, and services.

  2. Tereza

    My parents immigrated from Europe and most of my relatives are still there, or in Canada. This kind of stuff has been part of our family dinner conversations for years. In fact in the 1970’s when my grandparents finally escaped from E Europe too, we wanted them to join us, but decided they could not have gotten healthcare. So we lived an ocean apart.I agree with the commenter below — my experience is that in most of the Western world, roles that we Americans expect to come from philanthropy are covered there by government and higher taxes. The US model may be OK when times are flush. When the tide goes down it is generally devastating. My relatives, for better or worse, call it inhumane, and that it undercuts people’s dignity. Someone is already desperate, then they have to beg or convince others for donation money.Politics aside — no matter where you are, you have to help people in big ways and small….every day.

    1. Gotham Gal

      I agree with the politics aside addition but particularly about when thetide goes down it is generally devestating.I hope that we will see major changes come to our healthcare in the verynear future.