February 2, 2004

Spiritualizing Hamburgers. Nina's blogging the Sunday Times interview with the Salvation Army commissioner:
So that tidy little sum of $1.5 billion that Kroc left to the Salvation Army (the single largest philanthropic donation to an organization ever)? It's going to the building of new community centers that'll dispense not so much the food and shelter thing (how déclassé!), but advice on how to sustain a marriage (GW, your message is on a roll!), how to enjoy family life, and how to build character and cultivate spirit. When the Commissioner of the Salvation Army was asked how poor people would be able to attend to their souls and their families without food or shelter, he answered that in addition to programs on nutrition (there's a bit of an irony in using of McDonald's fortunes for this), they'll teach poor people how to sit down as a family and enjoy "the fellowship of just being able to sit together."

Consider that the man himself remains somewhat poor:
My wife and I are paid about $500 a week for the two of us. That comes out to about $28,000 a year. ...

Do you feel poor?

Not at all. The Salvation Army also provides our house and a car. My wife and I are very happy.

Consider too that it is more centrally the role of government to provide the basic economic safety net. Government should not feel free to shift that responsibility onto private charities. And private charities are especially important doing what government shouldn't be doing, especially with respect to providing religion and similar spiritual support for people. Is it wrong to choose spiritual care over food?
"Feed men, and then ask of them virtue!"

UPDATE: Nina has a response to my response. I think a key question here is: what did the donor intend? I'm going to assume that Mrs. Kroc was well represented and advised and knew what her contribution would be used for and knew how to restrict the use of the gift for another purpose if that is what she had wanted.

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