The Hedge Kings Are Rich, but Will They Be Noble?
Ben Stein raised that question in the New York Times over the weekend, in a thoughtful article. Here's the part I liked best:
They are stars in the financial firmament. But clearly their social utility to the nation and to the world is hard to see when compared with the social utility conferred by an Andrew Carnegie, an Andrew Mellon, a Henry Ford or a John D. Rockefeller, who genuinely built a nation and a world. Providing liquidity for different kinds of variable-rate mortgages simply does not compare, at least as I view it.
But there is a vast ocean of opportunity for these new plutocrats to make their marks. Four out of 10 Americans live modestly, at best. Tens of millions are in poverty. It would be a marvelous legacy of the hedge fund era if these players endowed the hospitals and art galleries and scholarships that made possible a better life for Americans with slower reflexes than theirs. Some are already doing it, and it’s a fabulous gift of their talent and decency.
© 2006 Gary Weiss. All rights reserved.
Wall Street Versus America was published by Penguin USA on April 6.
Click here for its Amazon.com listing and here for more information on the book, from my web site.