If you don't know what I'm talking about, please refer to the previous entry.
In this one, our assignment was to show up and defend "authoritarian capitalism" (essentially, Hamiltonian economics and market systems combined with Gilded Age thinking) against a team who, when handed the ideology of "social democracy" went for a kind of Socialist Democratic Utopia that they elucidated pretty well except around some of the smaller nuts and bolts. My guys took the approach of straight up Gilded Age "God Wants You to Be Rich" thinkers - essentially, Carnegie defending his empire. Needless to say, we got hammered - I was shocked by the one vote we garnered out of five - and only in part because of our indefensible ideology; we also had a drama queen on staff who may have over buzzworded "communism" & "drinking" a little bit. Anyway, here was the fleshed out bit I got to use:
"Society, morality and spirituality exhort us all to be charitable. Within the limits of what we can achieve, we are meant to give, not only of ourselves, but of our monetary and material wealth. Individuals put money in the church collection baskets, into the buckets of bell-ringers, and donate their old things to the Goodwills and the Salvation Armies in the hopes that some person with less than they have will benefit from their act of charity. Hope is a big part of this process.
Charity, performed on large, impactful scales is called philanthropy. Philanthropy literally means a “love of humanity.” In the old Greek sense, it implies loyalty and a looking after something, Being a caretaker. Virtue is required to love something in this way. Philanthropy, then, is a virtuous love of humanity, expressed as a contribution to its overall well-being within society.
Average people are not capable of virtuous action on this level. While they may ache to give to their fellows – and even follow through in a limited way, as in the above examples – they simply lack the capacity to contribute large sums of money and resources to society, instead giving where they can and making little to no observable difference. A wealthy person, someone with adequate resources for dealing with a problem, is [by contrast] capable of contributing massive funds (on a level not even conceivable by the average man) toward a solution to a problem, a remedy for an ill, or simply an improvement to society at large. The average man cannot establish a foundation that funds public radio and television or efforts toward international peace like the various Carnegie endowments. Wealthy people engaging in philanthropic acts of this kind create an incontestable benefit for everyone – and in a tangible way that widespread distribution of that same resource in the hands of many would not. Not only does the proliferate giving by the less wealthy have less impact, it can also create harmful waste and deluded ideas about what works and what doesn't.
Peter Buffet, the son of Warren Buffet, made an argument relating to this phenomenon back in July for an Op-Ed piece in the New York Times, in which he referred to the widespread small-change giving practiced by people with limited resources combined with the bloated state of the non-profit industry as a form of “conscience-laundering.” In effect, it allows the disparate charitable giving to spread without doing much good, while simultaneously allowing people to go on with their lives believing that they have done a great good. Picture a yard littered with trash which is then dusted by a newfallen snow. It's pretty & conceals the trash – but only for a while.
Philanthropy can make an impact like an avalanche, whisking away a great ill in an unstoppable torrent, or like the massive snowball that picks up speed and size as it rolls downhill – the size of the movement, and the way in which it is centralized make all the difference. That said, if you're someone who claims to truly care about our society and improvement of the world we see around us, you have to support great wealth in the hands a few very virtuous men as a concept we can all get behind. For the greater good of mankind, economic power must rest in the hands of those who will grasp and wield it to make a real difference."
And the great crazy speech I never shared because the opportunity eluded me:
"Adam Smith famously spoke of an “Unseen Hand” that invisibly regulates the economy as though by a natural process; We would argue that the consolidation of wealth in the hands of the few is the result of God helping those who help themselves, the result of an intervention by a “Divine Hand,” if you will. Andrew Carnegie wrote that society would be best benefited by the application of wealth not by governments or inheritance or bequests, but by the wealthy men who had the acumen and wherewithal to garner great wealth in the first place.
For them to achieve in this way, they have to have applied their gifts from God diligently and virtuously, or surely God would not have allowed them to succeed. In reality, he has placed the biggest challenges before the rich man: Jesus told of the likelihood of the camel making it through the eye of the needle being greater than the rich man making it into Heaven; unless you believe that God wants to exclude all rich men from Heaven, then you must believe that that He [the Almighty God] puts no challenges before us that we cannot handle, and thus what Christ means is that the rich man must work harder, has a rougher time of it, must contribute more, must carry the burden of the poor upon his back and truly be a boon and blessing to society as a whole if he seeks to enter the perfect and holy kingdom of God.
The Bible also says that “the love of money is the root of all evil,” and assuredly, that's true, but the wealthy man does not love his money, he merely loves what it can do for mankind. God has placed the wealth in the hands of the very few for the same reason that He does not grow tropical fruit in any place except the tropics; he knows that it will only flourish when cared for properly by men of skill and virtue."