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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There are 36 comments.

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  1. Misthiocracy Member

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

     How many of those libraries are still operated without subsidies from the taxpayers?

    • #31
  2. Midget Faded Rattlesnake Contributor
    Midget Faded Rattlesnake


    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.

    I thought adverse possession was primarily about knowledge: that it is unreasonable to expect others to know your property is yours unless you mark it in some way. If “fallow” property is clearly marked (for example, with a well-maintained fence or signs saying “keep out”), how can adverse possession apply?

    • #32
  3. Midget Faded Rattlesnake Contributor
    Midget Faded Rattlesnake


    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?

    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.

    Thanks for the informative answer, Skyler.

    That people might have ever expected to be able to dictate the use of property long after their own demise honestly hadn’t occurred to me. (I mean, how do you expect to stop the living when you’re already dead?)


    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.

    Corporate personhood is pretty awesome. And it is funny when Leftists decry the very tools they depend on.


    • #33
  4. Skyler Coolidge

    Adverse possession is not a matter of being ignorant. If you squat on someone’s land by mistake, then you generally cannot possess it adversely. It requires “open and notorious” occupation. That is, you have to very publicly steal it and after a period of time, often four years but it depends on the jurisdiction, then if no one stops you then it’s yours. Generally you have to improve the land with buildings or farm it. If the true owner had no buildings on it, and did not farm it and never came around to see that someone else had done so, then the land goes to the one who actually has done something with it. The reasoning is that land should not go to waste.

    Adverse possession is still good law and a friend of mine tried an adverse possession case just last year. The true owner paid off the squatter a handsome sum so that they could build their office park or strip mall. They had no idea the man had been living on the land for a decade, built a house on it and farmed it.

    • #34
  5. Skyler Coolidge

    As for the Rule Against Perpetuities, it is the bane of law students.

    It came about in merry old England from the gentry trying to keep control of their estates in their family without getting the land divided up by inheritances. You can leave someone a “life estate” meaning they own something only until they die, at which time you, the original owner, give it to someone else. Apparently someone tried to grant life estates to multiple generations and the English courts crafted this rule to prevent the “cold dead hand” from controlling the property perpetually.

    • #35
  6. captainpower Inactive

    For those advocating donations to education (reading and math), Bill Gates is pushing pretty hard for Common Core.

    • #36
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