The concept of "charity" in political economy, as related to the value of social labour

Jurriaan Bendien bendien at
Wed Nov 19 05:17:29 MST 2003

'What else shall I do with my money?'


BY THE time the great Scots-born businessman Andrew Carnegie died in 1919,
he had donated almost all his billion pound steel fortune to good causes,
setting a precedent for philanthropy which has rarely been matched.
Yesterday, Carnegie's extraordinary generosity was recalled as a modern day
entrepreneur, reputed to be Scotland's richest man, signalled his intention
to give up to £20 million a year to charity from 2006 onwards. In an
interview with The Scotsman Irvine Laidlaw, 60, a Monaco-based business
services tycoon who almost single-handedly bankrolls the Scottish
Conservative Party, revealed that in three years time, he will sell the
company which has made him an estimated £750 million fortune and turn his
attentions, and financial clout, to funding charitable work. Mr Laidlaw, who
was born in Keith, Moray, unveiled his grand scheme, known as the Laidlaw
Youth Project, at a conference in Edinburgh with an initial donation of £1
million for charities which help disadvantaged young people leaving local
authority care.

There is a catch - defined by the mantra "two plus two equals five". It is
this improbable equation which gives a unique insight into Mr Laidlaw's
success and the likely impact he will have on the way the charities he
eventually funds are run. "The sum of two people's work is worth more than
they can do individually, but unfortunately that is not a view that is
common in the charity world at the moment, or in government," he said. "It
is an equation that works well in business and the Japanese do it best of
all, but I don't see that happening here. "Everyone has their own little
fiefdoms. If charities worked with others, they could make better use of the
money and volunteers they have." Because of these concerns, Mr Laidlaw
intends to use part of his outlay to fund charities with projects which
bring together two or more organisations - whether that be in health,
education, the police or government. (...) "I will continue to fund the
Conservative Party because I think we need an effective opposition.You can't
have a government without an opposition and you can't have an effective
opposition without money. "You could almost say that if the Conservative
Party were all-powerful, I might be making sure that there was an
alternative opposition."


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