Thomas Sowell

On the contrary, they are more angry, lawless and violent than in years past, whether they are lower-class whites rioting in Britain or black "flash mobs" in America. Their histories are very different, but what they have in common is being supplied with a steady drumbeat of resentments against those who are better off.

Politicians, intellectuals and whole armies of caretaker bureaucrats are among those who benefit, in one way or another, from picturing parasites as victims, and their lags behind the rest of society as reasons for anger rather than achievement.

Leading people into the blind alley of dependency and grievances may be counterproductive for them but it can produce votes, money, power, fame and a sense of exaltation to others who portray themselves as friends of the downtrodden.

Both private philanthropy and the taxpayers' money support this whole edifice of a make-believe world, where largesse replaces achievement and "rights" replace work. Trying to rope Steve Jobs into this world ignores how many other famous businessmen, whose achievements in business have benefited society, have created philanthropies whose harm has offset those benefits.

Henry Ford benefited millions of other people by creating mass production methods that cut the cost of automobiles to a fraction of what they had been before -- bringing cars for the first time within the budgets of people who were not rich. But the Ford Foundation has become a plaything of social experimenters who pay no price for creating programs that have been counterproductive or even socially disastrous.

Nor was this the only foundation created by business philanthropy with a similar history and similar social results.

Let business pioneers do what they do best. And let the rest of us exercise more judgment as to how much charity is beneficial and how much more simply perpetuates dependency, grievances and the polarization of society.


Thomas Sowell

Thomas Sowell is a senior fellow at the Hoover Institute and author of The Housing Boom and Bust.

Creators Syndicate