Columnist Pans “New Philanthropy” with Searing Commentary

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November 3, 2011; Toronto Star | I like reading commentary on philanthropy from outside the U.S., because it often does not observe the same rules of “civility” (read caution) as we do. This guy writing for the Toronto Star is a good example. The columnist, Rick Salutin, is unhappy with the lauding of so called “new philanthropy” by a rival news outlet:

“You may have noticed that the Globe and Mail invented charity last weekend in response to various irritations: economic chaos, rage-inducing social inequality, declining living standards, loss of hope. Their answer is the New Philanthropy though, in fact, it isn’t really new and isn’t philanthropy either.” In particular, Salutin takes on Bill Gates, whom he says has “leveraged paltry sums into big influence on his chosen issues . . . The results have been, it is now emerging, disastrous: undermining teachers, many of whom quit, cheating scandals, seeding his own people in school boards and education departments.”

Salutin then proceeds to liken “social impact bonds to CDOs, credit swaps—imagineered by hedge funds that led straight to the bailout hell aftermath that we currently inhabit.” Right. He does not like the idea.

He concludes his diatribe—which I admit to liking, not just for its clarity of feeling but for its challenge to royalty—with the following: “The New Philanthropy, which is basically even older than the old kind, reintroduces an appeal to narrow self-interest in the form of greed, a jacked-up component of control, and narcissism in the form of fawning media reflections.”—Ruth McCambridge