Walter Bagehot wrote more than a century ago in Lombard Street that “The good times of high prices always engender much fraud. All people are most credulous when they are most happy and when much money has been made, when some people are really making it, there is a happy opportunity for ingenious mendacity.” Good times and bull markets invariably leads to market bubbles involving any number of investment manias, from tulips to Florida real estate, to dot-com companies and cryptocurrencies. Now, this mania appears to have spread to the world of philanthropy.
Melinda French Gates, former wife of Bill Gates, recently wrote that as useful as evaluations of grants might be, “it is equally important to place trust in the people and organizations we partner with and let them define success on their own terms.” Mackenzie Scott, the former wife of Jeff Bezos, has touted the organizations she’s given to because they are led by people with “lived experience,” and the gifts are completely unrestricted.
James Piereson is a senior fellow at the Manhattan Institute. Naomi Schaefer Riley is a senior fellow at the American Enterprise Institute and a senior fellow at the Independent Women’s Forum.
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