Resource Generation: rich kids who are determined to give away their parents' money and make America more fair and equal

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I don’t have an embarrassment of riches, but I also suspect that I’m harder to embarrass than these good people.


Good for them. Now if they could just get their parents on board.


Charity still only covers for flaws in the system. I applaud these silver spooners but hopefully there can be some real change systemically.


If they are really giving away -all- their money, good for them. If they just give away enough to signal their wonderfulness while keeping the Porsche, the ski boat and a third of the trust fund, not so much.

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Eh. If some kid inherits $100M, keeps 10 and gives the other 90 away (to good causes, no strings attached, without pushing any fundamentalist barrows, etc) then good on them. They don’t have to put on a hair shirt just to make you happy.


I dunno, if they give away two thirds of the trust fund I’m sure they have not only given away a greater amount of wealth then I have given to charity, they have given greater percentage of their wealth as well.

I don’t see why I would hold them to a higher standard than I hold myself.

If someone takes a $100M net worth down to $33M by donating $66M to genuine charities it seem petty to ask why they have $33M left, and decide they are dill-holes after all.

I mean, you can if you want, I don’t have a mind control laser or anything. I just don’t see how it is particularly fair.


Good on these young people for creating a new model of philanthropy that focuses on social justice, empowerment, and accountability. From the article, they seem to have found a balance between hair-shirting it* (which Libertarian critics, worried by this trend, will demand as the only proper way to do this) and doing the minimum possible to signal paternalistic virtue while still living like royalty (the traditional model of charity those same Libertarian critics prefer in reality). It sounds like they still manage to live nice, upper-middle class lives while working to give away most of their money, which still puts them in a personally comfortable and financially secure position.

Their parents also need to understand this about taxes in general:

If I’m doing this work in the right way, it will be clear to my kids and my partner, my family, that by moving this money into communities, it actually makes us more safe and more secure. I think of it as a trust fall into the movement.

Smart wealthy people understand this. Greedpigs never do.

[* ETA: jinx, @JonS ]


Exactly. For some perspective, $10-million in net worth (apart from home equity) gets you on average $400k per year in passive income. Add in another $5-million in the form of a home owned outright and you’re talking about a lifestyle completely out of reach to most Americans. Heck, at this point for most Americans under age 55 simply having graduated college debt free and having the down payment for a modest home in a major city with lots of good jobs would be an inaccessible luxury.

My sense from reading the article is that most of these folks are of a mind to give away everything except maybe $5-6-million plus a paid-off home, and consider themselves extremely lucky to be able to enjoy that fraction of their inheritance in a society that their philanthropy has made better.

But of course, for most American fiscal conservatives of various stripes that kind of charity given to the “undeserving” and “moochers” in the interest of society (which one of their heroes famously said didn’t exist) is ideologically dangerous, especially when it’s younger wealthy people who aren’t a handful outlier billionaires (like Gates or Buffett) organising in a thoughtful way to do it.

So out come the usual bad-faith and faux-populist talking points about total martyrdom as a demonstration of pure virtue and “limousine liberal guilt” and “coastal elite rich kids” and such, as described in the article:

T&C: I read the piece in the New York Times that mentioned Resource Generation, and some of the comments—

IH: I haven’t read the comment thread, so bless you for doing that.

T&C: A lot of it was like, “Oh, the poor rich people feel bad and they want to—”

IH: People have a love/hate relationship with rich people. Like when Mark Zuckerberg said he was going to donate, like, 90 percent of his Facebook stock—but to his own private LLC. We absolutely issued a public statement saying, “Hey, that’s not ­actually philanthropy, that’s not cool. You’re still maintaining absolute control.” We got so much pushback, like, “Stop being so hard on Mark Zuckerberg.”


T&C: In other articles about you guys, the comments have been—do you read any of them?

SJ: Yeah.

T&C: Super-vitriolic.

SJ: As they tend to be on the internet.

T&C: In particular, they were extremely critical of RG. “Oh, shut up” or “Poor little rich people.” I imagine that’s something that you expose yourself to—and you’re exposing yourself to now. Do you ever feel like, Oh, god, this is going to hurt?

SJ: [Hesitates a full 10 seconds, really for the first time in the conversation, before he speaks] Of course. Like everyone, my skin is not nearly as thick as I would like it to be or pretend that it is. And I think that, honestly, the kind of populist fervor against rich people is something that broadly I’m totally okay with.


If their wealth is in the form of company that’s inherited and completely owned by them, another good idea would be to convert it to a workers owned cooperative instead of giving it away to charity.


Or get their parents overboard?

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