The Misuse of Money

I see that David Rockefeller has pledged to give $100 million to Harvard University, a university that has an endowment of $28 billion and that spends only an infinitesimal part of this endowment (rumored to be about 5%) while it earns interest in the double digits (close to 17% in 2006). Education is surely a worthy cause and I’d be the last to suggest that education is not the place for philanthropy. And I think it’s a good thing that a large part of this $ will go to cultural studies. But couldn’t that money have been better spent on colleges and other educational institutions that really need it? Does a university with an endowment of $28 billion really need another $100 million? I think not. And I think that donations like this should not be viewed positively (as does the press and, I fear, the general public) but rather as the poor use of money that it is.

1 comment:

maestra said...

While it may be true that donating large sums of money to institutions like Harvard who don’t need it is a poor use of money, and that smaller less prestigious universities could benefit from such an endowment, one must bear in mind that Rockefeller is an alumnus of that university and, as such, feels a certain degree of indebtedness to it for his success in life. As he put it, Harvard is responsible “for opening his eyes and mind to the world.” I think that we too, if we had the money that he has, would be inclined to donate our wealth to our own alma maters which gave us our starts in the business and/or academic worlds. Don’t we ourselves already give money to organizations to which we feel personal attachments, such as the heart association and cancer association because we have had close relatives or friends with those diseases? When getting a tax break is not our motivation for donating money, then personal attachment seems to be the reason.