An Open Letter To Howard Husock On Peter Buffett And Charitable Giving

A C&L reader responds to Howard Husock's "Capitalism is the only way" response to Peter Buffett questioning the value of how charity is driven in this country.

Howard Husock of the Manhattan Institute at CPAC 2010

[Ed. Note: After the op-ed Peter Buffett wrote for the NY Times entitled "The Charitable-Industrial Complex", Manhattan Institute Vice President for Policy Research Howard Husock took to Forbes.com to argue that Buffett was "unfriendly to the creation of wealth that provides the resources to solve such problems." C&L Reader SaintCeran sent an open letter to Howard Husock in response.]

In his op-ed, Husock wrote:

But having the basics of life surely are a prerequisite to happiness – and, his [Peter Buffet's] own angst notwithstanding, there is little evidence that any system other than one based on markets and prices (capitalism) lifts vast numbers out of abject poverty.

The billions thus uplifted in China and India over the past generation alone are evidence enough."

This same tired set of claims (presented, as is typical of these apologists, as foregone conclusions without wit and without a whit of evidence) is meant to show "what's wrong" with Peter Buffett. Husock says China and India are "evidence enough."

Really? What does invoking the names of nations in this way even mean? No matter one's credentials or resume, weakly expressed, unsubstantiated argumentation is still weak tea.

The same convenient weaknesses are found in the tea party concept: stood-up, propped-up, cryptic and sold on the markets of wealth-dominated communication by a kind of "philanthropy" that buys people, and governments, and ideas with a budget that mightily overwhelms any style of "charity".

Husock's "better" idea? Quit biting the hand that feeds the ones you want to help:

...[the problem with philanthropy is not what Buffet says it is] ... but that it has become unfriendly to the creation of wealth that provides the resources to solve such problems.

It's 2013 and Husock is stuck -- or sticking it to us -- with the debunked thinking that excused the privileges of elites in 1813. And in 1713, proving that he completely missed Buffett's point: that we need to think differently to find better solutions.

Ironically, the poverty of Husack's thinking is at the same time his meal-ticket: "Wealth provides resources."

Yet any analysis of how wealth gets "developed" (the quote marks are there to indicate a euphemism for appropriation and human suffering), shows the reverse to be the actual state of human nature:

Resources provide wealth.

Formerly, there was at least the idea of wealth in common, i.e., Commonwealth. Now, with the help of court jesters like Husock, poverty is becoming more common.

It only takes a minor revision to Husack's own words to get at a description of the human condition that can be supported with actual evidence:

Having the basics of life surely are a prerequisite to happiness – and, standing tall with empathy for actual human conditions, there is little evidence that any system other than one based on markets and prices (capitalism) so efficiently displaces vast numbers of human lives into abject urban poverty.

The billions thus exploited by incremental improvement in China and India over the past generation alone are not evidence enough, but their co-presence with corporate crusades and Capitalist solutions there and elsewhere on planet Earth is a self-evident truth.

Mr. Husock, you are a pompous man speaking from the prison cell of privileged thoughts. Wealth always has and always will demand its cut (so-called "profit"). And relative wealth all the way down the hierarchical "system" of markets and prices and exploitations and corruptions will demand its relative cut.

Poverty is what is left over at the end of the line.

Excesses designed into "the system" push human lives beyond the resources any human needs to subsist. This is the actual evidence for the USA, for India, for China and for any other place you claim exemplifies the goods of more and more so-called wealth.

Wealth and ownership are the causes of poverty--in others. And those who own that wealth wantto keep that distinction.

Were this not the case, we would not be able to so clearly identify who is rich and who is poor.

Rationalizations such as yours for wealth and more wealth in the hands of few (just like guns and more guns, roads and more roads, oil and more oil, money and more money--"blithe phrases" that create as many if not more problems than they solve) as solutions for poverty are just piss in the already despoiled river of lost causes.

Capitalist causes that have already overproduced wealth.

Causes that create more poor people in drastically unequal ratios to rich people.

Causes that create and grow more fuzz on logical analysis -- industrial-strength capitalist fervor in the form of fact-free doxic excuses for and by pompous, privileged people.

Causes that overfund (i.e. buy off) lives dedicated to ideological distraction (such as yours), muddying the waters of discussion with lies about "real worlds" and "actual differences".

No wonder people want to bite your hand.

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