The irresponsible and anti-capitalist world of large foundations



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It’s a happy coincidence that your op-ed “Reimagining Capitalism” (February 24) describing the Hewlett Foundation’s $40 million foray into an overhaul of our economic system appears alongside several letters criticizing BlackRock’s ability to to vote their political preferences with shares held by others. What these institutional movements have in common is a lack of accountability.

Until BlackRock’s Larry Fink decided he knew better than shareholders what the right course of action was for the companies in which they had invested their money, large foundations such as Hewlett and Ford were probably the least likely institutions. responsible for the country, able to satisfy their ideological preferences and fantasies to their heart’s content. Anyone who inspects the production of these foundations will indeed be impressed by their “imagination” and dedication to fashionable topics, but not by their due diligence, the knowledge base on which they act, or their handling of the money they can spend.

It is time to carefully examine the privileges enjoyed by these institutions, just as it is time to examine the proxy privileges enjoyed by those who control the actions of others.

Em. Professor Donald L. Horowitz

duke university

Chevy Chase, MD.

Despite failures wherever they are tried, socialism and the “reinvent capitalism” movement are making periodic comebacks in the West. To understand why, Joseph Schumpeter identified the three main components of socialism.

First, capitalism is about “creative destruction,” in which older technologies and methods are replaced with new ones, increasing productivity and living standards. But livelihoods that depend on antiquated means are being disrupted. This constituency of the “left behind” has a visceral attraction to socialism.

Second, the bureaucracy has good reason to expand government. It has an interest in subordinating capitalism to the power of the state.

Third, academia is a natural incubator for socialism because there are few institutions more pampered by market realities. Therefore, universities with a mission to reinvent capitalism depend on money from Hewlett and the Omidyar network.

The iron triangle of disenfranchised workers, bureaucracy and academia allows statist ideologies to reproduce even if they are doomed to collapse.

Nathan Punwani

Scottsdale, Ariz.

The Capitalism Reinvention Project’s press release singles out “rampant wealth inequality” as “one of the greatest challenges of our time.” I think a pithy remark from dear late PJ O’Rourke might apply here: “Wealth is not a pizza, where if I take too many slices, you have to eat the Domino’s box.”

Elon Musk is said to have lost tens of billions of his net worth due to the recent stock market downturn. Since he is the richest man in the world, this huge loss reduces income inequality; Musk and I are now a little closer in amassed wealth. And it makes my life better, how exactly?

Jean Knoerlé

Shorewood, Wis.

Large foundations like Hewlett are not only products of free market capitalism, but also remain huge beneficiaries of it. According to its website, Hewlett’s $14.4 billion endowment is invested primarily in private and public equities, and its performance has consistently exceeded the benchmark. His most recent tax returns showed nearly $3.8 billion worth of company stock. Capitalism is the engine of wealth creation in centre-left philanthropies no less than anywhere else.

Robert Stilson

Capital Research Center

Richmond, Virginia.

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