Mark Zuckerberg is giving away $45 billion worth of Facebook stock to some amorphous causes, most of which don’t sound very encouraging at all. Zuckerberg is a focal point of government attention because through him, the State can pretty much monitor everything about your life at all times.
Donations in and of themselves are not noble. It depends what you’re donating to. If he’s donating to government entities as he has done in the past, it would be better if he kept the money and invested it in private ventures. Remember that market investment is a higher level of morality than charity, and Mark is definitely violating halacha by donating 99% of his wealth. Not that he cares about that at all I’m sure.
Keep in mind also that if he doesn’t donate the $45 billion, some other part of the profit-driven economy will get it and produce something with it. Privately invested, the $45 billion would increase production and raise living standards for a lot of people. Given to charity, it will be consumed and benefit much less people.
I still believe giving to charity is a moral imperative, but it is also very dangerous. It’s not like him giving it away is only beneficial. It is harmful to those who would have otherwise gotten the money through business transactions. Zuckerberg is not creating wealth by donating it.
In any case, his donation aims to: “advance human potential and promote equality…focusing on personalized learning, curing disease, Internet connectivity and community building.”
This all sounds very liquid and vaguely nice, but considering Zuckerberg’s history donating to government institutions like public schools, I fear most of it will be wasted.
There’s nothing wrong with the stuff he wants to promote. It’s just that when you don’t give specifics and you have a history of cooperating with government, you’re probably not going to do much good.
The best thing Zuckerberg could do to promote these causes, a real concrete way he could do it is fund what I call “anti-lobbying”. Lobbying is the most effective way to further your agenda if you’re a big corporation who wants to shut out competition and squeeze consumers. So anti-lobbying could go a long way in making the world a much better place.
Here are some examples:
You want to promote personalized learning? Anti-lobby for the repeal of mandatory government education laws and the end of all public schools. That will open up the education market to all kinds of alternatives that will develop on their own. If that’s too ambitious, anti-lobby legislatures for strong freedom to home-school laws at least. Laws that increase liberty are not really laws. They are anti-laws.
You want to promote equality? Anti-lobby for freedom of currency laws so savers no longer suffer inflation and central banks lose their monopoly power over money. Anti-lobby for the abolition of all laws that favor one group of people over another. Anti-lobby for the end to minimum wage laws that make it illegal to hire low skilled workers. Or at least to lower minimum wage to a level where it wouldn’t affect anyone. There are so many things.
Want to cure diseases?Anti-lobby for the abolition of the FDA and the total and complete legalization of all drugs. If that’s too ambitious, anti-lobby for the restriction of FDA powers to only monitor safety but not efficacy. Phase 3 efficacy trials account for 90% of the costs of drug development. If FDA powers stopped at phase 1 and efficacy were tested in the field, drug development would speed up by a factor of 100x or more.
Want to promote humanity Mark? Don’t promote equality. Promote liberty. And give at least $1 billion to the Mises Institute.