“Join Wall Street. Save the world.” This article went viral in my Facebook feed:
[Jason] Trigg makes money just to give it away. His logic is simple: The more he makes, the more good he can do.
Heâ€™s figured out just how to take measure of his contribution. His outlet of choice is theÂ Against Malaria Foundation, considered one of the worldâ€™s most effective charities. It estimates that a $2,500 donation can save one life. A quantitative analyst at Triggâ€™s hedge fund can earn well more than $100,000 a year. By giving away half of a high finance salary, Trigg says, he can save many more lives than he could on an academicâ€™s salary.
In another generation, giving something back might have more commonly led to a missionary stint digging wells in Kenya. This generation, perhaps more comfortable with data than labor, is leveraging its wealth for a better end. Instead of digging wells, itâ€™s paying so that more wells are dug. . . .
â€œMany people talk about saving a life as one of the greatest things you can do,â€ says Robbie Schade, a roboticist at Google who says he gives 25 percent of his earnings to charity, â€œbut seem unaware that it is within their power to save multiple lives every year, with little personal sacrifice. . . .
MacAskill, like Trigg, realized that percentages donâ€™t matter. Absolutes do. Ord may be able to give $1.5 million over the course of his life, but Goldman Sachs chief executive Lloyd Blankfein madeÂ more than $15 millionÂ in 2012 alone. Before the crisis, Blankfein was clearing $50 million annually. And investment bankers donâ€™t even get the biggest cut. Hedge fund manager John PaulsonÂ made $5 billionÂ in 2010. Suppose Paulson were to keep his job, move to a studio in Hoboken, reduce his living expenses to $30,000 a year, and give the rest of the $5 billion away. He could save 3,000 times as many lives in a year as Ord could save in 80 years. So why not enter finance with the express goal of using earnings to save lives?â€
The article goes on to describe what sounds like an emerging subculture of “smart” do-gooders: people who have realized that it is both possible and advantageous to quantify philanthropy because it appears that simply giving the financial equivalent is both more convenient and perhaps even ethically superior. Gone are the romantic notions of digging wells by hand in third-world countries, replaced instead by the realization that the same $2,000 that would have gone into flight & travel arrangements can instead be used more efficiently, effectively, and sustainably to pay local workers and organizations to do the same. By the numbers, it is a utilitarian strategy that results in a higher yield for the same sort of goal. [Read more…] about Issues in College Christian Humanitarianism: Part 3