Sunday, January 25, 2009

Society today

  • Confession ... I saw this article when I woke up in the morning and checked my email while lying in bed, using my iPhone. You'll see why this is relevant if you follow the link.

  • The great intergenerational transfer of wealth has been a big idea in philanthropy for the last decade, although I've always been something of a skeptic. The idea is that the generation now close to death (to put it rather bluntly) has a lot of money to pass down, and hopefully a lot of it will go to charity. How much is a lot? $41 trillion. My skepticism arises from wondering (first) to what extent people will pass down their money, rather than spending it in their lifetimes, and (second) whether they'll do much for charity as opposed to giving it to their heirs. (This could be in the form of living gifts rather than bequests.) Third, I'm just a pessimist about the future.

    But now it occurs to me that in the current economic crisis, my third reason for skepticism was much more on target than I thought it was - our inability to predict most things is starkly visible to all of us now. With the economy in the toilet, how much of that $41 trillion still exists?


Dave Daniels said...

Why do you assume giving money to charity would be better than spending it or leaving it to one's heirs?

turducken said...

I'm not sure how you could infer any belief on my part as to the relative value of philanthropy from that post. Unless you were misled by the "hopefully," but that refers to the hopes that underlie Schervish and Havens' work and their $41 trillion estimate. They hope a significant portion of that money will be given to charity.

Dave Daniels said...

You said you are pessimistic, which I assume means you think people are more likely to spend (etc) than donate, which also implies that you think it would be better if they donate. I guess I don't see the point of the post if that's not your view.

turducken said...

My pessimism refers to our economic future. The $41 trillion estimate seemed to me to assume our economy would merrily chug along in an expansive bubble for the next couple of decades.

And as to the point of my post, the point is that I study fundraising for a living. Once in a while that's going to appear on my blog.

Dave Daniels said...

"And as to the point of my post, the point is that I study fundraising for a living. Once in a while that's going to appear on my blog."

That's really more of a catalyst that a point. The difference is not semantic.

turducken said...

You are correct.