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June 20, 2007


Ms. Roy is right -- the impact of one's charity is frequently unpredictable. But after reading this, a comic thought crossed my mind: any number of tightwads would now derive solace from her words ("giving money away is dangerous and complicated"). Yeah, it's against my political beliefs too! That's why I refuse to write checks to them educate-the-children and feed-the-abandoned-old-widows schemes! :-)

This is only an interview and she no doubt expresses only a fraction of her thoughts on this topic -- writing is a far better vehicle for such ideas. Still, she is quite candid and direct about her feelings on an inherently complex topic. But I thought there is more to it. It made me wonder: how would I respond to the same topic? Here is an attempt.

I'd begin by saying much of what she says. But I would say more (I expect some of this applies to Ms. Roy too). The reluctance to give more is not just due to external factors. The reluctance is also internal. I'm afraid of losing the security and comfort and the distance and leisure and the power and opportunity that money creates for me. I'm afraid of getting too embroiled with others and their demands on my time (esp. when the giving is not anonymous). And besides, truth be told, my concern for strangers has its limits (shocking!). Further, my fear keeps enlarging my idea of a "reasonable safety net" as I grow older. I have even learned to rationalize this as part of a normal self-preservation instinct in today's world and I find it hard to snap out of it. Not pretty, but there it is...

I did find odd her put down of inherited money. Is earned money more deserving? Does it not depend on random, lucky, time-and-place factors? I'm quite aware of this in the world of Silicon Valley stock options and dubious "new economy" skills that pay absurd amounts. There is often no higher justice in money distribution, even the earned kind -- that's simply how it is (surely Ms. Roy would agree). Inherited money is just another lucky break one gets, like a lucky prize. Why single it out as a curse?

There goes another socialist hypocrite. Every effing human likes money, and this chick is exception. It's not that she doesn't want to give away money for the fear of destruction it causes but it's because she loves money too much, way too much. It's funny how all these commies come up with creative ways of fending the question of "giving" when it comes to them. And what an irony, most of these commie windbags tend to be way above average in income levels.

What a joke this piece of crap is...

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  • The Lottery of Birth reveals Namit Arora to be one of our finest critics. In a raucous public sphere marked by blame and recrimination, these essays announce a bracing sensibility, as compassionate as it is curious, intelligent and nuanced.” —Pankaj Mishra

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