Philanthropic capitalism

Philanthropic capitalism


NEW YORK, Dec 21 – Within the upper echelons of American society there is a culture – a cult almost – of giving that is little understood outside the US. Call it capitalist philanthropy, or philanthropic capitalism if you prefer.

At its core is the assumption that those who are blessed with great riches should give something back to those less fortunate, through foundations or charities established in their name.

In the process, the reputation of the benefactor is enhanced and friendships forged, opening up new business opportunities that generate more wealth, some of which is in turn given back. And so a cycle is set in motion, creating money and goodwill in equal measure as it spins.

An excellent example of this cyclical process in action is the Palm Beach Country Club. It sits in the northern end of this hyper-exclusive, 13-mile long strip of Florida coast, boasting its own 18-hole golf course.

It was founded in 1952 as a Jewish members club, at a time when all the other establishments on the barrier island were Wasps only.

Today, anyone wishing to join has to prove they are not only persons of huge wealth but also of upstanding character – they must demonstrate that they give away hundreds of thousands of dollars each year as charity.

In return, they gain entry to a social circle that can help them further enhance their fortune.

Within the club one member stood out, so much so that there was a long queue of Palm Beach residents willing to pay the club’s $300,000 (RM1,020 billion)) joining fee simply in the hope of getting to know him.

His name was Bernie Madoff, and to say that he was a legend in Palm Beach, where he has had a home since 1967, is to underestimate his attraction.

He was the epitome of the moneymaker/money-giver, as he not only coined wealth for himself and others, he was also a major philanthropist. “He is absolutely charming, and has a sensational smile,” says Tara Pearl, a Palm

Beach estate agent who knew him socially. Madoff had a big reputation as a stalwart of Wall Street, a former chairman of the Nasdaq, as an investment broker who represented all that was good and wholesome about New York’s financial industries.

Above all, for those who could work their way into his affections and on to his client list, he had a golden touch. He had found a way of securing returns on his clients’ investments that were both high and steady – a combination that eluded most other brokers. “Good old Bernie”, as he was affectionately known within the club had another nickname: Mr T-bill, a reference to the huge dependability of US treasury bills.


Read all here in_

   Tales from the country club ,  The Malaysian Insider

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