A tweet from Jan Egeland, Secretary General of the Norwegian Refugee Council:
The folks who get paychecks from the victimhood industry are hanging out in a Parisian palace with chandeliers blazing while the victims whose victimhood enables those paychecks are fighting the Israelis street-by-street and tunnel-by-tunnel.
Below are some recent photos from the Huntington Library in Pasadena, California. A railroad, streetcar, and real estate baron left this gift of beautiful gardens and arts to Californians and tourists. Today’s Silicon Valley rich are much richer than Henry Edwards Huntington was. Why aren’t they creating amazing art museums and gardens? A Walmart heiress did that in Arkansas with Crystal Bridges, but I haven’t heard of the tech billionaires doing anything similar. Why not? Is creating a world-class garden and/or museum not sufficiently ambitious for today’s elites? They want to instead say that they saved humanity from disease or landed humans on another planet?
Some inspiring bonsai:
Inspiration for your golden retriever and a room in which to relax after the kill:
An all-gender restroom before you venture out into California gridlock:
How about carpets and textiles? A lot of food in jars and cans from the local Middle Eastern store? (these are thin on the ground in Jupiter, Florida, but maybe they exist down towards West Palm Beach) I found a mail-order shop in Pittsburgh. Amazon sells Turkish olive oil with free delivery.
“Our school is raising money for the American Heart Association,” said our first grader. “Do you want to donate?” I said, “It depends. I don’t like to give money to organizations whose employees make more than I do. What if the CEO gets paid $1 million per year?”
My hypothetical turned out to be far from the truth. The CEO earned $2.44 million in 2020, the most recent year for which data are available (from IRS Form 990):
Maybe 2020 was an anomaly and Nancy Brown got paid a $2 million bonus for curing heart disease? Her 2019 haul was $3.4 million:
The 7-year-old suggested that the CEO had probably done 19 operations to save a child’s life. We found a LinkedIn page and the $2.4-3.4 million (in pre-Biden money) was being paid to someone with a bachelor’s degree:
(In other words, not a surgeon.)
The school’s plan, we learned, was to raise $32,000 for the American Heart Association. After informing the kids that there were 250 working days in a year, we asked them to figure out how long $32,000 would last if used to pay Nancy Brown’s CEO salary (answer: 3.3 days).
What do the Scientists with bachelor’s degrees at the American Heart Association have to say about the only health problem that concerns Americans? From their coronaplague page:
“Every vaccination brings us closer to a future free of COVID-19”? How is that possible when the vaccines do not stop infection, transmission, disease, or death? Separately, nowhere on this page from the Heart Association is there any mention of the disproved-by-Science association between the attempted COVID vaccines and heart problems such as myocarditis. Why not reassure the public that it is perfectly safe to inject everyone starting at age 6 months?
(I think “attempted vaccine” is the best description for these shots that don’t stop infection, transmission, sickness, or death.)
I’m wondering if the Depp v. Heard trial has shed any light on one of America’s more unusual philanthropists. It is not uncommon for an American to have sex with a rich person (oftentimes his/her/zir/their boss!), sue that person for divorce, alimony, child support, and property division, and then be celebrated in our media as a great philanthropist using the money obtained via having sex and going to family court.
Amber Heard was unusual in that she stated that her only motivation for seeking cash in family court was philanthropic. She promised to donate all of her profits from the one-year marriage to hard-working Johnny Depp. From Amber Heard: brave and financially independent (2016):
Although the only thing sought by her original lawsuit (previous posting includes a link to the Petition) is money (property division, alimony, and attorney’s fees), “none of [the plaintiff’s] actions are motivated by money.” (Amber Heard is also seeking to be divorced, of course, but California is a no-fault state (offering what scholars call “unilateral divorce”) so she is 100-percent guaranteed to win that part of her lawsuit.)
(A plaintiff suffered “years of abuse” during a one-year marriage says the newspaper that assures us inflation is being ably handled by the technocrats.)
Amber Heard admits to “failing” to donate to charity. After Johnny Depp’s attorney Adam Waldman subpoenaed two organisations that Amber Heard claimed she donated the entirety of her USD$7 million divorce settlement, it came to light that Amber Heard had lied under oath about making any donations. She reportedly pocketed the entire amount.
Amber Heard promised that she would donate the whole amount to the Children’s Hospital of Los Angeles (CHLA) and American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) to prove that she was not after Johnny Depp’s money.
Presumably it isn’t relevant to the core of the issues at the current trial, but I wonder if it is now clear to what extent Ms. Heard acted on her expressed charitable intent.
(As previously noted here, the most obvious way for Amber Heard to have donated $7 million of money earned by Johnny Depp was to write checks from a joint checking account with Mr. Depp shortly before she filed her divorce lawsuit, then ask only to be divorced in the suit (an automatic win since California is a no-fault state). This has worked for plaintiffs in Maskachusetts. One gal transferred more than $1 million in joint account money via cash and checks to her boyfriend, then sued her husband for property division, alimony, and child support. The judge ruled that she was authorized to spend the jointly held money however she wanted during the marriage. So he split the remaining assets 50/50 and also awarded 20 years of child support and alimony to the victorious plaintiff. She ended up with perhaps 80 percent of the spending power. This was 20 years ago, so $1 million was real money at the time.)
If anyone expresses support for low-skill migration into the U.S., one of my standard tropes is to offer to pay for a year of food for any migrants that the gracious welcomer wants to shelter in his/her/zir/their own home. After 20 years of making these offers, I have not had to spend one penny. Here’s the typical exchange:
friend posts hatred regarding the Texas governor busing migrants to neighborhoods in D.C. where every lawn has a “migrants welcome” sign (and the Florida governor piling on with “I hope these welfare-dependent migrants don’t show up in Orlando wanting taxpayer-funded gender ID education at Disney World)
I respond with “If you’d like to house any asylum-seekers or migrants in your own home I will be happy to pay for a year of Costco food for them. Just let me know how many you’re planning on welcoming!”
friend responds to the above with “not the point”
It seems that my bluff has been called, however, by an Irish helicopter enthusiast friend. He and his wife have welcomed a Ukrainian and her 15-year-old son into their suburban Dublin house (to occupy a couple of bedrooms that have been vacated by adult children). From WhatsApp: “They arrived last night with a cabin size bag and 2 shoulder bags.” Although he didn’t ask for any help, I decided to send 500 euro for a gift card at the local shopping mall (impossible to buy online with a U.S. credit card, so I did a bank transfer with his IBAN number and he will buy it; I trust him not to spend the money on essential-in-Maskachusetts-and-California marijuana because weed is illegal in Ireland). The mom will have a “PPS number” by next week and, therefore, will be allowed to work in Ireland.
One of our loyal readers (I won’t share his name until I get his permission) is married to a Ukrainian and is sheltering up to 7 of his wife’s relatives in his suburban Paris home. They’ve gotten health coverage from the French government, but, as in the U.S., housing is a human right to which a 10-year waiting list is attached. We could get together and try to cover some of his hypermarché bills. I met this reader in person when I was in Paris with my mom so I can vouch for him. And I’ve seen the pictures of the crowded kitchen table.
Why send money direct to individuals in this manner? Donating to a non-profit org has the advantage that it might be tax-deductible, but Elvis Presley wouldn’t deduct any of his donations because he said that it “took away from the spirit of the gift.” Also, I don’t want to help a non-profit executive boost his/her/zir/their salary from $1 million per year to $2 million per year, even if that only keeps pace with housing inflation.
Finally, let me add that the Ukrainian friend whom I talk to most regularly is ambivalent about aid to refugees. He prefers to assist those who’ve chosen to stay in Ukraine (his own father has refused to bug out despite a quiet suburban American existence being within relatively easy reach (dad is over 60 and therefore free to leave Ukraine at any time)).
On the third hand, I feel sympathy for anyone who has to live under Irish weather conditions…
(above: part of Newgrange, where no refugees will be housed, from a May/June 2019 trip in which it rained for an entire week)
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A money manager friend recently attended a charity fund-raising dinner in Palm Beach. The beneficiary is a liberal arts college in the Northeast. If they reach their goals, the Second Assistant Dean for Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion will be able to hire a second assistant and the Office of 2SLGBTQQIA+ Allyship can get some gender-neutral Steelcase chairs. No doubt these are worthy objectives, but why are donors giving anything all when there are millions of Ukrainian refugees who need assistance? (One of our loyal readers is housing 7 Ukrainian relatives in his house in France, for example; they can get health care and education, but “no hope for housing, they go into the general multi-year queue for social housing.” (as in the U.S., the French think that housing is a human right, which is why some people get taxpayer-funded houses, but it is not enough of a human right that the French are motivated to tax themselves sufficiently to build sufficient taxpayer-funded housing).)
Speaking of Palm Beach, here are some photos from a recent trip to The Breakers where a friend was paying $2,000 per night for “a tiny room” that afforded “glimpses of the ocean.” It seems that $2,000 is the new $500 because that was the room cost in all previous years.
At the entrance we learn that if you tip the valets sufficiently, even the simplest rental Chevy can occupy pole position:
The beach in Palm Beach is crummy compared to what we enjoy in Jupiter, with heaps of rocks dumped on the sand to prevent erosion:
A cold front with thunderstorms had just rolled through, so the beach and pool were mostly empty:
Although there are no homeless encampments, visitors from San Francisco should still feel right at home:
For $2,500 extra per day, you can rent a pool-side day-use room with attached bathroom:
Back inside the hotel, a wedding takes shape:
(Note that, statistically, the more money that is spent on a wedding, the higher the probability of a subsequent divorce lawsuit.) The other big event in the hotel that night was a black tie ball raising funds for a nearby hospital (already on the 20-percent-of-GDP gravy train).
I wasn’t sorry to leave. Palm Beach is a nice island (literally), but almost any path in or out goes through some depressingly impoverished neighborhoods. In Jupiter, by contrast, you can go from the ocean to Interstate 95 and beyond without encountering anyone unable to pay $1,500 per month for an apartment. It’s presumably nice to be rich enough to afford a $50-100 million house (“brokers fear they may run out of mansions to sell”; “We’re now seeing $50 million transactions on almost a weekly basis.”) that is occupied only 2 months per year, but I wouldn’t want to be regularly reminded of How the Other Half Lives. Maybe the answer is that the residents of Palm Beach never actually leave the island (until it is time to catch the G650 at KPBI), but send servants out for supplies that are available only in West Palm.
Here’s a request for money from the Harvard Art Museums, recently received in the mail:
They lead with the fact that they were closed for 1.5 years. Surrounded by fully open (“essential” according to the governor) marijuana and liquor stores, adults meeting in restaurant-bars after Tinder matches, etc., the Harvard Art Museums decided that they would all sit at home and they want potential donors to know that. If we assume that the primary mission of an art museum is to have people come in and look at art, the non-profit did nothing to further their primary mission during this 1.5-year period, despite the fact that they were ordered closed by the governor for only about 3 months of the 18-month closure that they proudly highlight.
(Even now, they won’t be executing all that aggressively on their primary mission; visitors have to make online reservations before showing up, a significant discouragement to those strolling around (fully masked, of course!) Harvard Square.)
Readers: Does this seem like a good illustration of the alternate universe inhabited by non-profit organizations? A for-profit enterprise wouldn’t expect to win points with customers by highlighting more than a year of voluntary closure, would it?
(“We’re raising our membership prices on July 1 so we can continue to make art accessible for all.”)
So a middle-class family that wants to visit the museum regularly and not pay $50 per visit (two adults) will find art more accessible when annual membership is more expensive!
Separately, if you ever need someone to run an Ebola clinic, the MFA should be the first recruiting stop. We visited on February 19, 2021 and they’d set up a quarantine tent outside the front door. About six people were employed to check the handful of visitors to make sure that they had reservations, that they answered a bunch of COVID-19 symptom questions, that their temperature was checked, and that they donned orange wristbands to show that the screening process had been accomplished and they couldn’t somehow slip into the building without first going through the quarantine tent.
Once inside, the vast spaces had a post-apocalyptic empty feeling.
If you’re not too dehydrated from the closed drinking fountains to need to use the restroom, the good news is that the Women’s room is for those who “self-identify” as “Women”:
A thoughtful technocrat determined a COVID-safe capacity for each gallery in which masked (a bandana was fine as PPE) visitors might congregate:
Directional stickers on the floor would, if followed, prevent people from passing each other while moving from room to room.
During a post-museum lunch stop, we were reminded that the same government that uses #Science to protect us all from COVID-19 will also buy us an unlimited supply of opioids as a means of treating our opioid addiction:
Although we’re members and returning to the museum would be free, we haven’t gone back. The constant COVID-19 messaging, the emptiness, and the screening procedures more elaborate than what local hospitals use for visitors made it an overly clinical experience.