Sunday, August 8, 2010

Charity


When thou doest alms, let not thy left hand know what thy right hand doeth. Matthew 6:3



What the man in the passage above was talking about is that people shouldn't give (charity) the same way they invariably give it nowadays - publicly and proudly. One shouldn't derive satisfaction from it. It should be done without thinking of its effect on oneself, on one's goodness or on one's chances for salvation.

It was announced this week that Warren Buffett, the oracle of Omaha, and a consortium of forty other billionaires are committed to giving more than half of their personal fortunes to "charity." Of course, many of them have insisted on bequeathing theirs. Pardon my cynicism, but unless these men are worrying about the reception they will get at the pearly gates, what do they hope to accomplish?

Do they believe that a last act of philanthropy can make up for a lifetime of selfishness - what Adam Smith called "personal gain"? Does anyone still believe that one man should be in control - should be allowed to control - so much money? The fact is there would be no need for charity if we had an economy that made such rapacious, insane acquisitiveness as Buffett & Co. have practiced all their lives impossible.

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