Monday, October 10, 2011

Did Steve Jobs give to charity? or Ayn Rand and the paucity of philanthropy

No one knows if Jobs was a philanthropist. But Wozniak said of him, "I think Atlas Shrugged was one of his guides in life."

Ayn Rand thought little of charity: "My views on charity are very simple. I do not consider it a major virtue and, above all, I do not consider it a moral duty. There is nothing wrong in helping other people, if and when they are worthy of the help and you can afford to help them. I regard charity as a marginal issue. What I am fighting is the idea that charity is a moral duty and a primary virtue."

The Ayn Rand Center strongly disapproves of people promoting philanthropy. See Facebook founder’s philanthropy pledge angers Ayn Rand Center.

So I'm left with two thoughts:

1. We don't know whether Jobs indulged in philanthropy.

2. Even if he did, I agree with these folks:

"Philanthropy is commendable, but it must not cause the philanthropist to overlook the circumstances of economic injustice which make philanthropy necessary." —Martin Luther King, Jr.

"Millionaires at one end of the scale involved paupers at the other end, and even so excellent a man as Mr. Carnegie is too dear at that price." — Hugh Price Hughes

“First they take billions from you, then they give back half. And that makes them the world’s greatest humanitarians.” —Slavoj Zizek

Philanthropy is the money that the rich spend on public relations. So ultimately, I don't care whether Jobs gave to charity. I want a world in which concern for ordinary people means no one has to hope people like Steve Jobs will share a little of the world's wealth.

Also of interest: Looking the Carnegie Gift Horse in the Mouth