Google Founder: Don’t Give Your Money to Charity

 

I’m not sure I agree with him, but Google founder Larry Page has an interesting thought. From Business Insider:

Google CEO Larry Page has an unusual idea about what should happen to his billions should he die. 

Instead of giving it to a philanthropic organization, he’d rather hand over his cash to Elon Musk, the founder of Tesla, SpaceX, and SolarCity.

In a conversation with Charlie Rose at a TED conference on Wednesday, Page said he wanted his money going to capitalists like Musk — those with big ideas for changing the world — according to a report at Wired.

He thinks Musk’s vision for going to Mars “to back up humanity” is inspired. He said, “That’s a company, and that’s philanthropical.”

I have zero idea what Page’s politics are — I suspect they’re of the off-the-shelf Silicon Valley variety: heavy on naive, tech-confident entrepreneurial capitalism, light on traditional, grubby Republican Main Street concerns, devoid of any interest in the culture or the family. Page hasn’t donated anything to politicians, but his partner Sergey Brin is a reliable Democratic fundraiser, and Google has hosted major Obama fundraising events.  

It’s interesting though that non-profit charities seem, to Larry Page, like hidebound small-timers. That may be true — for some of them, anyway. But there’s something about the smug “we’re changing the world” attitude I hear from Silicon Valley types that rubs me the wrong way.  

Yes, some companies can change the world. And yes, if Elon Musk manages to get to Mars, that would be cool. (It would be cooler if he could figure out how to make the Tesla go further than 250 miles…). But Page and his colleagues are rich enough — vastly so — to do something that wouldn’t change the world and wouldn’t get us to Mars but just might have a greater and more lasting impact.

They could start a school. Wouldn’t have to be a big one. Maybe something in San Francisco or Oakland, open to all, free, rigorous. Something for other zillionaires to see and maybe duplicate, wherever they are. Something that addresses a very real problem — a problem amplified and extended by their chosen party’s and favorite president’s misguided and corrupted slavishness to the current public school establishment.  

Stop changing the world. Teach math and writing and science instead.

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  1. user_139157 Inactive
    user_139157
    @PaulJCroeber

    “Stop changing the world. Teach math and writing and science instead.”

    Doesn’t scale. He’s an intellectual in the sense that ideas come before people and humanity comes before humans.

    • #1
  2. user_928618 Inactive
    user_928618
    @JimLion

    My estimation of Larry Page has just jumped to stratospheric levels. I thought I was the only one who thought this way.

    • #2
  3. user_1938 Inactive
    user_1938
    @AaronMiller

    Why wait until he dies to donate? It’s not charity if you’re dead. And I assume those companies could use the money now.

    • #3
  4. user_532371 Member
    user_532371
    @

    I don’t know. If you’re a great scientist, mathematician or writer, it doesn’t follow that you’re a great person. Maybe we assign the cause of the lifestyle of the rich and upper middle class (whole, undivorced, intact families) to their professional abilities or education. There certainly is a correlation but I’m fairly certain that education at best should but doesn’t teach good values and at worst teaches values antithetical to the lifestyle of the wealthy. 

    And without values, education gets you a life marginally better or maybe even worse than of the poor. Of course, if education is just one link in the chain that the zillionaires can shore up, great. But it isn’t sufficient.

    • #4
  5. Z in MT Member
    Z in MT
    @ZinMT

    Aaron Miller:
    Why wait until he dies to donate? It’s not charity if you’re dead. And I assume those companies could use the money now.

     Larry Page’s money is mostly wrapped up into Google stock, which means he is investing in his own company instead of Elon Musk.  If he thought investing SpaceX was a better investment than Google than I am sure he would.

    • #5
  6. user_1938 Inactive
    user_1938
    @AaronMiller

    Z in MT:

    Aaron Miller: Why wait until he dies to donate? It’s not charity if you’re dead. And I assume those companies could use the money now.

    Larry Page’s money is mostly wrapped up into Google stock, which means he is investing in his own company instead of Elon Musk. If he thought investing SpaceX was a better investment than Google than I am sure he would.

     If he thinks SpaceX would become a better investment once he dies, then he doesn’t have much faith in the future management of his company.

    Amazon’s founder is devoting Amazon resources to robotics. Why can’t Google research space?

    • #6
  7. Z in MT Member
    Z in MT
    @ZinMT

    Warren Buffet also understands the value of keeping money growing rather than just giving it away to charity.  While he has committed most of his tens of billions to charity the money is still invested in Berkshire Hathaway to take advantage of the high rate of growth that Buffet can deliver.

    The problem with charity is that it is hard to measure return on investment.

    • #7
  8. Z in MT Member
    Z in MT
    @ZinMT

    Aaron Miller:

    Z in MT:

    Aaron Miller: Why wait until he dies to donate? It’s not charity if you’re dead. And I assume those companies could use the money now.

    Larry Page’s money is mostly wrapped up into Google stock, which means he is investing in his own company instead of Elon Musk. If he thought investing SpaceX was a better investment than Google than I am sure he would.

    If he thinks SpaceX would become a better investment once he dies, then he doesn’t have much faith in the future management of his company.
    Amazon’s founder is devoting Amazon resources to robotics. Why can’t Google research space?

     Who say’s they aren’t?

    • #8
  9. user_199279 Coolidge
    user_199279
    @ChrisCampion

    The world will start “changing” a lot faster, in a better direction, if we started educating our children and young adults and college students in the real things they need in life, not the things they can get away with not knowing, because they’ve never, ever, been truly challenged in life.

    As much as I might want to fly an X-Wing, creating a trust that funds a school – nothing even remotely approaching a public school – would leave a much longer and lasting impression on the world.

    Make it a school on Mars and I’m sold.

    • #9
  10. St. Salieri Member
    St. Salieri
    @

    Larry Page has an unusual idea about what should happen to his billions should he die. 

    “should he die” – some optimist!

    I know what he meant, but still…

    • #10
  11. Skyler Coolidge
    Skyler
    @Skyler

    There’s a lot to do, and creating things, exploring are the first rank of things to do.  But I think curing malaria is a second rank thing to do, as is curing aging.  

    I would say that the whole crux of inheritance and property laws as they have developed since 1066A.D. is that estates should be in the hands of those who would make the best use of them.  

    It has only been the past couple of decades where organizations have been buying land to make them perpetually fallow, which is a sick practice in my book.  It is a cold dead hand on property.  

    • #11
  12. dittoheadadt Inactive
    dittoheadadt
    @dittoheadadt

    “Stop changing the world. Teach math and writing and science instead.”

    Which just so happens to be one way to change the world.  Not that they’ll ever figure that out, though.

    • #12
  13. user_86050 Inactive
    user_86050
    @KCMulville

    Rob Long: Stop changing the world.

    But if you do want to change the world … make a difference … be the ones you’re waiting for … or whatever shallow mantra you repeat to drag your sorry butt out of bed in the morning … could you do it more quietly?

    Yes, we want you to achieve something with the talent God gave you, but not at the cost of inflating your ego into delusions of grandeur. (Pssst … little secret … we say “change the world!” to everybody. It isn’t like you’re the chosen one just because we’re trying to encourage you.) 

    The problem is that when people (especially young people) begin changing the world, they always start by trying to accumulate power. The fact that every other idiot  is trying to change the world and is also seeking power … means that everyone is elbowing each other in the face. Did you ever see The Three Stooges try to go through a door together? They always get jammed by each other and fall backward. That’s what happens when everyone wants to “change the world.”

    • #13
  14. 3rd angle projection Member
    3rd angle projection
    @

    Z in MT:
    Warren Buffet also understands the value of keeping money growing rather than just giving it away to charity. While he has committed most of his tens of billions to charity the money is still invested in Berkshire Hathaway to take advantage of the high rate of growth that Buffet can deliver.
    The problem with charity is that it is hard to measure return on investment.

     The problem? I guess I don’t understand what charity is anymore.

    • #14
  15. Big John Member
    Big John
    @AllanRutter

    First, philanthropical is not a word.  Second, philanthropy and charity are not about inspring, world changing acts that make the giver feel good about himself (although plenty of structures have donor names on them), charity is ultimately about helping others, on a person-by-person basis.  It happens at a smaller scale than missions to Mars, and its ROI is reflected in lives changed for the better–making others healthy, exposing them to beauty, freeing someone from hunger.   I would hope Mr. Page could be encouraged to do something more immediate with his blessings and gifts for the benefit of his neighbors in California.

    • #15
  16. Skyler Coolidge
    Skyler
    @Skyler

    Big John:
    I would hope Mr. Page could be encouraged to do something more immediate with his blessings and gifts for the benefit of his neighbors in California.

     
    His neighbors should build their own spaceships to Mars.

    • #16
  17. captainpower Inactive
    captainpower
    @captainpower

    St. Salieri:
    Larry Page has an unusual idea about what should happen to his billions should he die.
    “should he die” – some optimist!
    I know what he meant, but still…

     Skyler alluded to it in the post after yours.

    There is a thought out there that maybe aging might be cured one day.

    Some of the more fanciful extrapolations of that thought are expounded in terms of “The Singularity” as popularized by Ray Kurzweil.

    • #17
  18. Nathaniel Wright Member
    Nathaniel Wright
    @NathanielWright

    Why give money to charity, when you can pay $500 million in a non-prosecution agreement?

    • #18
  19. captainpower Inactive
    captainpower
    @captainpower

    The insanely rich are in a great position to be charitable.

    The mythical “robber barons” created libraries and cultural institutions (Carnegie Hall, Rockefeller Center, etc.) with their wealth.

    Good for them.

    The perpetual question for those who want to give is how to maximize the return for their limited dollars.  The Gates Foundation accepts applications. The Arnold Foundation is trying to tackle long term issues that others are ignoring.

    On the other hand, by doing what they do best, capitalists naturally improve the conditions of everyone. Russ Roberts talks about this idea periodically on his Econtalk podcast. Over the past several hundred years, he credits capitalism for improving the state of mankind. A few hundred years ago, it didn’t matter how rich you were, you weren’t getting air conditioning or a heart transplant. 

    http://www.gapminder.org/videos/200-years-that-changed-the-world-bbc/

    • #19
  20. captainpower Inactive
    captainpower
    @captainpower

    If you have 5 minutes, definitely check out this video (featuring gapminder data, video by the BBC).

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jbkSRLYSojo

    Hans Rosling’s 200 Countries, 200 Years, 4 Minutes – The Joy of Stats – BBC Four Uploaded on Nov 26, 2010 More about this programme: http://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/b00wgq0l …  In this spectacular section of ‘The Joy of Stats’ he [Hans Rosling] tells the story of the world in 200 countries over 200 years using 120,000 numbers – in just four minutes. Plotting life expectancy against income for every country since 1810, Hans shows how the world we live in is radically different from the world most of us imagine.

    If you don’t have 5 minutes, then watch 30 seconds starting at the 4 minute mark where you can see that the poorest countries today are better off than the richest countries a hundred years ago. 

    http://youtu.be/jbkSRLYSojo?t=4m

    • #20
  21. Midget Faded Rattlesnake Contributor
    Midget Faded Rattlesnake
    @Midge

    Rob Long:
    I’m not sure I agree with him, but Google founder Larry Page has an interesting thought. From Business Insider:

    Google CEO Larry Page has an unusual idea about what should happen to his billions should he die.
    Instead of giving it to a philanthropic organization, he’d rather hand over his cash to Elon Musk, the founder of Tesla, SpaceX, and SolarCity.

    But if he gives all his money to Elon Musk without expecting anything in return (which he won’t be, because he’ll be dead), isn’t he treating Elon like a charity case?

    • #21
  22. Midget Faded Rattlesnake Contributor
    Midget Faded Rattlesnake
    @Midge

    Skyler:
    I would say that the whole crux of inheritance and property laws… is that estates should be in the hands of those who would make the best use of them.

    Isn’t the crux rather that the owners themselves are in a unique position to know what to make of their property?

    There has never been a shortage of people who believe that others’ property should by rights go to themselves because they would make better use of it. Private property laws stop this “I should get his property because I deserve it more” reasoning and replace it with, “I can get his property if I’m willing to sacrifice enough of my own (pay him enough to induce him to part with it).”

    Skyler:
    [O]rganizations have been buying land to make them perpetually fallow, which is a sick practice in my book. It is a cold dead hand on property.

    How is it a cold, dead hand on property? On the contrary, property remains robust when owners can dispose of it as they like (even by leaving it untouched), free of outside meddling.

    If you disagree with their use, buy the land from them.

    • #22
  23. Skyler Coolidge
    Skyler
    @Skyler

    Midget Faded Rattlesnake:

    Isn’t the crux rather that the owners themselves are in a unique position to know what to make of their property?

    No.  Adverse possession is contrary to the property owner’s opinion.  If you pay no attention to your land and someone squats on it open and notoriously and claims it as his own, then after the statute of limitations ends, it’s not yours anymore, it belongs to the squatter.  

    There are other examples where the law has for a thousand years favored the productive use of land over letting it go under used.  You may not agree that this is good, but it’s been the gist of the law for a very long time, including our laws.

    • #23
  24. Skyler Coolidge
    Skyler
    @Skyler

    Midget Faded Rattlesnake:

    Skyler: [O]rganizations have been buying land to make them perpetually fallow, which is a sick practice in my book. It is a cold dead hand on property.

    How is it a cold, dead hand on property? On the contrary, property remains robust when owners can dispose of it as they like (even by leaving it untouched), free of outside meddling.
    If you disagree with their use, buy the land from them.

     
    The rule against perpetuities says that you can’t dictate what happens to property after 21 years after any party currently alive dies.  This was intended to stop someone from a few hundred years ago (the cold dead hand) dictating how descendants can use the land.  Environmentalists have gotten around this by having an organization buy the land.  Since organizations don’t die like people die, they can keep land fallow almost perpetually.  

    And yet those same environmentalists and leftists tend to be the ones who decry free speech rights for corporations.

    • #24
  25. No Caesar Thatcher
    No Caesar
    @NoCaesar

    There are too many “charities” now.  Charity has become more for the giver than the recipient.  I have targeted my charitable giving — other than my church — on organizations that want to sunset themselves and/or make their recipients independent and no longer needing of charity. 

    “Teach a man to fish and he can feed himself forever.  Give a man a fish and you feed him for a day”, still holds true.

    • #25
  26. Misthiocracy Member
    Misthiocracy
    @Misthiocracy

    I note that the article doesn’t print an actual quote from Mr. Page where he says he would “give” his money to someone like Elon Musk.

    I must presume that he means to argue that “investing” one’s money with entrepreneurs is more effective than “giving” one’s money to charities.

    Simply “giving” one’s money to entrepreneurs seems like a terrible idea.

    • #26
  27. Son of Spengler Contributor
    Son of Spengler
    @SonofSpengler

    No Caesar:
    …“Teach a man to fish and he can feed himself forever. Give a man a fish and you feed him for a day”, still holds true.

    Extending the proverb: I think Rob is advocating that Larry Page fund fishing instruction, whereas Larry Page wants to fund the development of fishing boats. Both are necessary, IMO. Innovation — for-profit innovation — can often improve people’s lives more than charity or even education.

    When the first generation of interplanetary Pilgrims emigrates from Earth in order to establish a free society where they can live as they wish, perhaps they will have Elon Musk and Larry Page to thank.

    • #27
  28. user_137118 Member
    user_137118
    @DeanMurphy

    No Caesar:
    There are too many “charities” now. Charity has become more for the giver than the recipient. I have targeted my charitable giving — other than my church — on organizations that want to sunset themselves and/or make their recipients independent and no longer needing of charity.
    “Teach a man to fish and he can feed himself forever. Give a man a fish and you feed him for a day”, still holds true.

     Promise to give a man a fish tomorrow and you can control him.

    • #28
  29. Skyler Coolidge
    Skyler
    @Skyler

    The USMC sent me with my battalion and a whole bunch of doctors, veterinarians, and dentists to Ghana to train with their army for three weeks and to provide medical and dental help to the people near Deboya and veterinarian help to their animals.  We gave them fish.

    We met some Peace Corps volunteers there who taught them to spin wool, and other such fairly useless things. They taught them to fish.

    On the way there, we passed mile after mile of squalor and poverty, but in the city of Tamale was a huge, modern stadium.  You would be proud to have such a stadium in any city in the US.  

    I asked my Ghanaian counterpart about the stadium.  He explained that this is why I was there.  The Chinese government built seven stadia around the country.    They were worried about Chinese influence in the country.

    The stadia were very popular, and people from all over came to the games.  Vendors come and sell food and souvenirs.  People spend the money they can for the big events.

    We gave them fish and the Peace Corps taught them to fish.  The Chinese created a fish market.  The Chinese have the winning plan.

    • #29
  30. flownover Inactive
    flownover
    @flownover

    I would like to see someone do something on the scale that Andrew Carnegie when he built 2500 libraries .

    • #30
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