Thursday, January 27

A Million Dollars a Minute: The Rise and Rise of Philanthropy |


When historians of the future look back at the beginning of the 21st century, there will be no shortage of ways to label the era: the Age of Extinction; the age of anxiety; the Era of Fibers and Self-Advertisers; the era of the overcapitalized newsletter.

But the more optimistic Upside historian may look for a different epithet: the Age of Philanthropy. Because one of the threads running through the last few decades, as the rich have gotten richer and the poor more vulnerable, is the rise of charitable giving.

In the US alone, donations have increased nearly tenfold in the past 40 years, from about $ 48 billion a year in 1980 to $ 471 billion (£ 338 million) in 2021, nearly $ 1 million. per minute. Even when adjusted for inflation, it triples.

Hardly a week goes by without another millionaire handing out sums equivalent to the GDP of an entire country to frightened beneficiaries. This week it was MacKenzie Scott’s turn (again). The donation was $ 2.7 billion.

But is this a good thing? Two things seem to have happened in parallel during the last two generations. Globalization has made some people so rich that they simply cannot deliver their money fast enough. And at the same time, the state has strayed so far from social provision that the need is everywhere.

So our questions for you this week: are philanthropists or governments better at funneling money where it should go? What to do with people who make a fortune through the depredations of capitalism, only to atone for it by giving away much of it? Wouldn’t it be better if states orchestrated this redistribution of wealth through the tax system?

Get in touch in the usual way. And if you’re feeling a little philanthropic You know what to do.

Otherwise, this week we salute:

This year’s award for defending your city from the filthy merchants. 90 second read
Eyes, light bars and trauma exorcism. Two minute read
How old plastic bottles can now be turned into vanilla scent. Yes really. Two minute read
How the oceans were protected by the smallest nations on Earth. Three minute read

Fishing, South Pacific Style, in Tuvalu
Fishing, South Pacific Style, in Tuvalu Photography: Mick Tsikas / EPA-EFE

The happiest story of the week. Three minute read

Lucky numbers

United States consumed record amounts of renewable energy in 2020.

Vermont became the first US state to vaccinate 80% of its population.

The collapse of Danish footballer Christian Eriksen has led to an increase in Britons asking about CPR training. according to the UK St John Ambulance Service.

What we liked

This is as curious as it sounds: should we rule out driving tests? From Vice.

And as we talk about learning a new skill, it seems like not practicing is almost as important like practicing.

In the meantime, these are beautiful: New images of Earth from the International Space Station.

And it was a busy old week for whales: First of all, there was the modern Jonah who survived being swallowed whole by a humpback. And secondly, there were the fishermen who I found a fortune inside another ocean giant.

Where was the Upside?

In the United States, the decision to make June 19th a federal holiday.

Also with a new report that concludes that aging and mortality are inevitable facts of life. After all, who wants to live forever?

Get in touch

If you have any questions or comments about any of our newsletters, please send an email to [email protected]


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