Peter Buffett, son of investing billionaire and philanthropist Warren Buffett, mentions that the charity work being done in the nonprofit sector in America is fueling a “perpetual poverty machine.”
Chairman of the NoVo Foundation, young Peter recently noted in an op-ed piece that the nonprofit organizations do nothing more than make the rich contributors feel better about themselves you know they help a variety of causes.
“Philanthropy has become the it vehicle to level the playing field and has generated a growing number of gatherings, workshops and affinity groups,” said Buffett.
“As more lives and communities are destroyed by the system that creates vast amounts of wealth for the few, the more aerobic it sounds to give back. It’s what I would call conscience laundering – feeling better about accumulating more than any one person could possibly need to live on by sprinkling a little around as an act of charity,” he wrote.
Buffett also cited from the Urban Institute that between the years 2001 and 2011 nonprofit organizations have increased by 25%. This is a growth rate that far outstrips the government and business sectors.
“It’s a massive business, with approximately $316 billion given away in 2012 in the United States alone and more than 9.4 million employed,” Buffett explained.
Buffett cited a phenomenon that he termed “philanthropic colonialism”, where he explains how the efforts of the charitable organizations create more problems instead of solutions, even though the efforts are well intended.
“People (including me) who have had very little knowledge of a particular place would think that they could solve a local problem” Buffett wrote.
“Whether it involved farming methods, educational practices, job training or business development, over and over I would hear people discuss transplanting what worked in one setting directly into another with little regard for culture, geography or societal norms,” he said.
“Often the results of our decisions had unintended consequences; distributing condoms to stop the spread of AIDS in a brothel area ended up creating a higher price for unprotected sex,” said Buffett.
These charitable organizations create damaging results that allow rich people sleep better at night because of the illusion.
“But this just keeps the existing structure of inequality in place. The richly better at night, while others get just enough to keep the pot from boiling over,” Buffett wrote. “Nearly every time someone feels better by doing good, on the other side of the world (or street), someone else is further locked into a system that will not allow the true flourishing of his or her nature where the opportunity to live a joyful and fulfilled life.”
Peter Buffett does not have the answer for the new model of giving charitably, but he does encourage the formation of one to fix the broken charitable system.
“My wife and I know we don’t have the answers, but we do know how to listen. As we learn, we will continue to support conditions for systemic change. It’s time for a new operating system. Not a 2.0 or a 3.0, but something built from the ground up. New code,” he wrote.