By Guest Blogger Guy Yedwab
(Hello, Parabasisites! I'm Guy, another guest-blogger brought in by Isaac to fill in while he's gone. I hope he's doing well... now that my company's production of Hamlet is fully struck, I'm here to fulfill my duties... a day late, since my first post didn't go through on the first try.)
So, the thing that I do to support myself as I make my way into the field of independent theater is that I work in Midtown at a software company that is wildly successful, writing the documentation. I very much enjoy the vibe at the office (their relationship to their part of the software industry is roughly approximate to a newly-successful independent theater's relationship to their industry), and it gives me the flexibility I need to keep my craft alive.
One of the other pleasures that this job affords me is the ability to pretend that I am a rich businessman, so I daydream a little about what I'd do with my large amounts of money.
The mode of giving in the United States seems to be largely centered around Andrew Carnegie's "The Gospel of Wealth." He wrote the essay to address the problem of the administration of wealth, which anyone in the field of philanthropy (which, by the way, is not a field I am in or am particularly well-educated about) can probably tell you is a fairly large and hairy problem. The philosophy that he attempted to stress was to invest in institutions that support those individuals that are out to support themselves, which is the Carnegie Library approach, rather than simply giving aid to those who are out-of-luck, the soup-kitchen model.
As I was at work, though, I had an idea of a different way to use my hypothetical wads of cash. And rather than Andrew Carnegie, the wealthy man I was thinking of is Carl Icahn. Icahn is usually followed up in news articles with the phrase "activist investor" (or preceded by it), because what he tends to do is use his incredibly large sums of cash to buy controlling shares in a company, and dictate policy to it. Right now, the Google News feed is detailing how he beat Trump to control Tropicana Casino Atlantic City, his hostile takeover bid of Lions Gate Entertainment, and his single-handed plan to restructure Genzyme.
If I had large sums of cash, one thing I could do is create some large foundation or public institution that would support the public. Or I could donate it to a charitable cause and let them handle it. Or I could buy a major chocolate company and use my influence on the board to force them to divest in cocoa suppliers who use child slaves in the production process.
In the non-profit world, I couldn't get quite the same oomph. After all, I could withhold donations, or promise donations if certain changes take place, but the institution is free to say "no we don't need your money." If we wanted to change a big non-profit's approach to the arts, we could pull on their sleeves as hard as we can, but if they're secure enough in their status quo, they can truck on by us.
Anyways, this is largely my daydream about how I can leverage my hypothetical large sums of cash to make the world a better place. What should I do with it? I could buy Goldman Sachs and break it into a series of smaller banks, or by Exxon Mobile and turn it into a Solar company, or buy Wal-Mart and force it to only purchase from manufacturers who pay a living wage. What would I do with it if I wanted to make changes for the arts?