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Philanthropist
July 22, 2003 9:59 AM   Subscribe

$15 million burning a hole in his pocket. Having made millions in real estate, this Philadelphia philanthropist is using the money as an object lesson to his children by giving it all away. Now that all the money is pretty much gone, he's in the hospital today giving away a kidney to a complete stranger. Will his children get more out of this example than they might have out of college? Could you do what this couple is doing? (Before you answer, note: they don't even have cable!)
posted by stupidsexyFlanders (41 comments total) 1 user marked this as a favorite

 
Could you do what this couple is doing?

Nope.
posted by Witty at 10:05 AM on July 22, 2003


maybe give away.....some of it.

or just keep it, put my kids through college, buy a nice house, nice car. and live out my life in a capitalist dream....sigh
posted by knapah at 10:09 AM on July 22, 2003


"He said, 'Daddy, I'm so proud of you and what you've done. I don't need a car in college,' " Kravinsky said.

Now, I'm all for charitable giving and I think generosity on this level is remarkable - but I don't see why a family with means would not choose to give their kids funds for a better start. This sounds like an object leson in the other direction - I wouldn't be surprised to hear that the kids grew up very resentful that dad gave his money to everyone but them.
posted by widdershins at 10:12 AM on July 22, 2003


Cheers to this guy for not wanting his kids to end up as lazy inheritors. I hope he teaches them what he knows about how to succeed in business, if that's what they want for themselves.
posted by Space Coyote at 10:13 AM on July 22, 2003


who said anything about the kids not going to college?

via zell kravinsky: it was a choice between his kids having a car when they go to college...

via joshua kravinsky: Daddy, I'm so proud of you and what you've done. I don't need a car in college...

the guy owns a million square feet of midwestern commercial space. so far, he seems to be shedding excess cash as opposed to property. now, i don't have handy my copy of Dollars and Sense of Shopping Centers, a compilation of financial operating statistics of regional commercial space, but in the midwest, post-911, $7 per square foot per month is a conservative guestimate, and we'll throw aside for a moment the sales revenue percentage payouts that skim millions more into landlords hands. do the math. his kids are certainly going to college.

now that's cleared up, i must say bravo! one can only spend so much money on one's own family, yet so few are willing to give the extra away. kudos!
posted by quonsar at 10:16 AM on July 22, 2003


quonsar, Jenkintown and the Penn campus are not in the midwest, unless you consider Philadelphia the midwest.

Other than that, your point stands.
posted by soyjoy at 10:26 AM on July 22, 2003


There's an article here that says his wife is threatening to leave him over the kidney issue.
posted by Irontom at 10:29 AM on July 22, 2003


I guess he breaks the prevalent "rich people are evil people
" stereotype." Bravo and good for him, I say.
posted by insomnyuk at 10:30 AM on July 22, 2003


"Zell, 48, a real estate investor who said he owns about a million square feet of commercial space in the Midwest, and Emily, 45, a private practice physician specializing in eating disorders, recently gave the CDC Foundation $6.2 million."

just working with what the source said, soy!
posted by quonsar at 10:31 AM on July 22, 2003


good point q, he hasn't liquidated everything, but that's the direction he's going. He has said in the past (not linked) that he would be willing to give away his kids' college funds because the example would be worth more than the education. Full disclosure: I do know this family and they are lovely people, totally genuine and sincere. Who knows whether their children will grow to resent or appreciate what their father is doing, but they certainly have not been shortchanged in terms of love or moral guidance, and if that's not enough, we're all screwed.
posted by stupidsexyFlanders at 10:35 AM on July 22, 2003


Re: The kidney.

"....

...Kravinsky has met her.

"She's a wonderful woman," he said. "I know with her life secure with a new kidney, she's going to help others. She's a woman after my own heart - or maybe I should say, after my own kidney."


Wouldn't the world be a better place without this retch-inducing hackneyed cliche? Can't Kravinsky make a phillanthropic stand against this blight?
posted by zpousman at 10:45 AM on July 22, 2003


Don't you think the kidney thing is going a bit too far? I'm all about organ donation (I've got the card in my wallet) but I do find it a bit odd that this guy would all of a sudden decide to donate a kidney, when there wasn't a specific need presenting itself (a family member, a friend). Organ donation CAN be dangerous, even from a perfectly healthy donor, so I can see why his wife was upset. I think this guy might have some deeper issues with his wealth or with the concept of giving.
posted by agregoli at 10:45 AM on July 22, 2003


just working with what the source said, soy!

So you were. I should've known better than to tangle with the quons. I had already read the Daily News story (the kidney one) which mentioned only properties around here, so I went and shot off my mouth. Next time I'll read all the links first.
posted by soyjoy at 10:57 AM on July 22, 2003


I'm going to take a wild guess that the divorce thing in the article was meant to be humorous but was played up by the reporter. That said, if Zell considers philanthropy to be his job, how are the risks of this job different from those a fireman or policeman takes? It only seems extreme because it's not usually done, and I don't believe unusual=wrong.
posted by stupidsexyFlanders at 11:00 AM on July 22, 2003


Giving away the money, I can get behind him one hundred percent. Giving away his kidney away, not so much. He's one of the first natural matches to investigate if something happens to his children, and while I wholeheartedly support organ donation in its many forms, I think a parent has a responsibility to his children first.
posted by headspace at 11:00 AM on July 22, 2003


I hope he teaches them what he knows about how to succeed in business, if that's what they want for themselves.

Uh, what if that's not what they wanted? What if they wanted to be poets or painters or some other activity that has no money coming in?

Or are you saying that there is only virtue in working like a dog your whole life?
posted by eas98 at 11:02 AM on July 22, 2003



I guess he breaks the prevalent "rich people are evil people" stereotype.


The "rich people are evil people" strawman is a registered trademark of MidasMulligan. I'm sure you'll be hearing from his solicitors, shortly.
posted by electro at 11:10 AM on July 22, 2003


He must be feeling *really* guilty about something ...
posted by monju_bosatsu at 11:11 AM on July 22, 2003


If his kids learn nothing else from this, they'll learn how to drum up some personal publicity. Newspapers, CNN....I guess not every philanthropist likes to give quietly and unheralded.
posted by Oriole Adams at 11:19 AM on July 22, 2003


"rich people are evil people" strawman


[falls down laughing]

Oh...you're serious?

[cough]
posted by lazaruslong at 11:31 AM on July 22, 2003


Is the "October 22,2002" the date of the first article linked or am I missing something? I think it's a great lesson for the kids. Just because they don't have cable or electronic toys doesn't mean they are under privileged. I bet the kids go on and do great things in life.
posted by RunsWithBandageScissors at 11:31 AM on July 22, 2003


He must be feeling *really* guilty about something ...

I'm getting that, too. Giving away all his money is already pretty extreme (the last article made the point that his wife had to insist that he keep something), but he's not putting himself or his family in any real jeopardy by doing it, and you can't deny that it'll be better used by a charity. Giving away a kidney to someone he knows who needs it would be a tremendous act of courage and generosity.

Giving away his kidney to the first person who happens to need one? That reflects an awful set of human priorities -- you do not teach your children about selflessness by endangering their livelihoods. If he does this and lives, they gain nothing, not even a new lease on life for a loved one. If he does this and dies, his family will have to both mourn his loss and struggle even to survive. He's trying to bet their happiness and well-being just so he can feel good about himself.

There is something wrong with this man.
posted by Epenthesis at 11:31 AM on July 22, 2003


you do not teach your children about selflessness by endangering their livelihoods. If he does this and lives, they gain nothing, not even a new lease on life for a loved one. If he does this and dies, his family will have to both mourn his loss and struggle even to survive. He's trying to bet their happiness and well-being just so he can feel good about himself.

Yeah, and those firemen who died in the WTC...selfish narcissistic bastards!
posted by stupidsexyFlanders at 11:40 AM on July 22, 2003


Uh, it's a fireman's JOB to try to rescue people, this guy took it upon himself. It's somewhat laudable, but I think it's too far extreme.
posted by agregoli at 11:42 AM on July 22, 2003


Yeah, philanthropy doesn't even PAY.
posted by Ignatius J. Reilly at 11:52 AM on July 22, 2003


This guy is over-compensating for something.

I can see donating significant amounts of money to charity or being willing donate bone marrow or an organ if genotype matches are made.

But to donate a kidney at random? Something is wrong with this situation.
posted by Argyle at 11:53 AM on July 22, 2003


Uh oh! stupidsexyFlanders is coming to the rescue with a retarded analogy... hold your ground with your justified opinions.
posted by Witty at 11:55 AM on July 22, 2003


This guy is over-compensating for something.

miniscule penis. the bane of real estate investors.
posted by quonsar at 12:05 PM on July 22, 2003


Whoa! Witty has found something else that's beneath him. Maybe if we all raised the intelligence level of MeFi a whole lot, he could actually say something remotely constructive that has a point instead of just popping up to insult people all the time. Then we could all wash ourselves in his fount of wisdom. That would kick ass.
posted by Ignatius J. Reilly at 12:07 PM on July 22, 2003


Well if he was my dad I'd punch him in his "miniscule penis".

He isn't however, so fair play to him, whatever the motives for his charitable acts.
posted by squealy at 12:29 PM on July 22, 2003


Among the interesting points in The Millionaire Next Door is that the children of the rich seldom become 'prodigious accumulators of wealth' (the book's term) themselves. But the likelihood was something like 5 times as great in favor if the children had to make their own way once they were adults, rather than just biding time between handouts.

I applaud his financial charity. The kidney thing strikes me as over the top. I mean forget the "what if the kids are bitter over not getting money" thing... what if they're bitter about needing a kidney later in life?
posted by Zed_Lopez at 12:37 PM on July 22, 2003


Here is a many who has internalized all the guilt people have laid on him for his money and his abilities.

So his family will wind up with nothing, possibly without even him, so that he can give his money away to teach them what... that they should also work for the sake of others and screw over their family?

Too bad he doesn't have anything more useful to teach his children than self immoliation.
posted by soulhuntre at 12:58 PM on July 22, 2003


Whoa, IJR... stop following me around. I didn't insult anyone. I called his/her analogy retarded (which it is). Poor choice of words, sure. Personally insulting, I would hope not. Stick to YOUR contributions to the thread... I'm still not going to be your friend. Please.
posted by Witty at 1:16 PM on July 22, 2003


Heh. MeFites can be so predictable sometimes. You take even a guy with virtually nothing to criticize, and so his seeming perfection becomes suspect and indicative of deeply-rooted personal problems. I love it. :)
posted by waldo at 1:43 PM on July 22, 2003


Witty-
It's a deal. This is the last comment that I will ever direct at you, I assure you. No longer will I stalk you and whisper your hallowed name to myself with my every breath.

It is obvious to anyone who has read your posts--regardless of their political persuasion--that you are concerned about and given to vocally protesting the hypocrisy that you see in Metafilter: a preponderance of "liberal" thinkers who can nonetheless act closed-minded and disrespectful toward a diversity of viewpoints. That is a fair characterization of the spirit of many of your comments, I would imagine, and you are not alone in holding this view.

Forgive me for assuming that you advanced this position out of a legitimate desire to actually improve the level of communication. I am not "trying to be your friend." You exemplify that dreadful combination of obnoxious and entirely not clever--embodied typically in people for whom retarded is the best pejorative on-hand--that I seek to avoid in making acquaintances. In fact, I am trying to participate in a website which you sometimes troll.

I thought that I could more or less see the point with which you seem to be obsessed--that MeFi could be more accepting of outside (or, to you, conservative) ideas. Sometimes I tried to engage that, sometimes I tried to call you on violating that, but now I will begin the sweet and simple task of just fucking ignoring you.

Everyone wins!
posted by Ignatius J. Reilly at 2:33 PM on July 22, 2003


Dear Sir... my first comment in this thread was no more, no less contributing than was yours. I don't see what the hell liberal or conservative have to do with ANY of this. Can I not comment on the fact that I think a particular analogy made by another poster is a bad one? Can I use the word retarded if I want to (even if I admittedly think it's a rather childish use of the word)? stupidsexyFlanders admits to being friends with this family and seems to be letting that get in the way of other people having a "not so good" impression of this man's actions. Can I not defend the rest of the crowd in this thread for having justified opinions on this story? Can you blow this anymore out of fucking proportion? Christ, IJR.

I am not "trying to be your friend." You exemplify that dreadful combination of obnoxious and entirely not clever--embodied typically in people for whom retarded is the best pejorative on-hand--that I seek to avoid in making acquaintances.

Enjoy the boner while it lasts.

...simple task of just fucking ignoring you.

Good... it's about fucking time.
posted by Witty at 3:32 PM on July 22, 2003


the damndest thing about witty is he isn't.
posted by quonsar at 3:39 PM on July 22, 2003


Ig: That was beautiful, man.
posted by Civil_Disobedient at 6:29 PM on July 22, 2003


Look, Mr. Kravinsky! The love-ripples of your acts of selflessness and charity are even now spreading through Metafilter! The casual ad hominems...the juvenile criticism...the dick jokes...Good work, fellow mefites!
posted by luser at 9:35 PM on July 22, 2003


I'm surprised no one picked up on this little ditty from the article:

In addition, he said, "I give to the CDC because Saddam Hussein doesn't. It's the only thing that stands between his epidemics and us."

Huh?

Well, Saddam didn't give me any money last year, maybe Mr. Kravinsky could throw some my way.
posted by bshort at 9:43 PM on July 22, 2003


Wouldn't it have been a better lesson to have applied the money as a wealth multiplier for others than a straight line depreciation? In other words, what about the lesson of giving a man a fish vs. teaching him to fish?

"My children, if you give away $15M dollars, it's surprising how fast the money goes and how little it *can* accomplish. This is because human wants and needs will always overcome the ability of others to provide for them. However, watch what happens when that $15M is used to motivate a hundred others to provide for their own wants and needs. And then you'll see how, by providing for themselves, they also provide for their families, and many, many other people. In this way, $15M can create more than $150M worth of wealth, and help many, many people."

Another good lesson: "Who can use that money to greater effect in helping others, a charity or me? I can make it, but does that mean I am good at spending it in a good cause? And how would a given charity use it?"

Many things to learn here.
posted by kablam at 9:51 PM on July 22, 2003


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