What should a billionaire give?

There’s an interesting article in Sunday’s New York Times What Should a Billionaire Give– and What Should You? Peter Singer, professor of bioethics at Princeton, wrote the article, and he said in part:

“We might say that they have a right to spend it on lavish parties, private jets and luxury yachts, or, for that matter, to flush it down the toilet. But we could still think that for them to do these things while others die from easily preventable diseases is wrong.

“In an article I wrote more than three decades ago, at the time of a humanitarian emergency in what is now Bangladesh, I used the example of walking by a shallow pond and seeing a small child who has fallen in and appears to be in danger of drowning. Even though we did nothing to cause the child to fall into the pond, almost everyone agrees that if we can save the child at minimal inconvenience or trouble to ourselves, we ought to do so. Anything else would be callous, indecent and, in a word, wrong.

“The fact that in rescuing the child we may, for example, ruin a new pair of shoes is not a good reason for allowing the child to drown. Similarly if for the cost of a pair of shoes we can contribute to a health program in a developing country that stands a good chance of saving the life of a child, we ought to do so.”

Also today I came across a quote by Winston Churchhill.
We make a living by what we get.
We make a life by what we give.”

Something to consider this Christmas season.


  1. The lids love putting allowance to these linds of charities. Thank you for giving them, more options.

  2. uh- those would be *kids. LOL

  3. I studied under Peter Singer at Princeton. He is also famous for making some contriversial remarks about poverty in America…including that infants that are born handicapped or deformed should be euthanized…. among other similarly horrific suggestions. The man is committed to finding a way to end poverty in our world….and I applaud him for being so dilligent, even if his way to do it isn’t the way many of us would do it.

    I was suprised to see a quote by him that was not terribly contriversial………..


  4. bek– wow… awful. I didn’t agree with everything he said in this article—some of it almost seemed to imply we should legislate people’s giving, whereas I believe it should decided upon freely by each individual–but I definitely found it thought-provoking.

  5. I really like that Churchill quote. I know I have seen it before, but I had forgotten it. It is going to spend some time posted in my home. Thanks for the inspiration!

  6. Food for thought and motivation for action. Thanks, Mary, for keeping the reason for the season firmly in front of us.



  7. Peter Singer makes my skin crawl…it is amazing how he can say what he just said, and then callously argue that we would be just to kill infants who cannot be ‘productive’ to society…

  8. hmm… I’d never even heard of the guy till yesterday. He sounds kinda schizophrenic….


  9. I had to add one more thing…Here is a good article on Peter Singer for anyone interested. He certainly provides conversational fodder…

  10. Darn– I can’t access it because I’m not a subscriber…

  11. I saw this quote in high school and have always liked it. I try to live by it. According to American standards, we might. However, according to much of the world, we live very richly.
    “Live simply that others may simply live.” — Elizabeth Seton