[Marxism] Did someone say patrimonial capitalism? The White House hosts a meeting of teenage billionaire “philanthropists” by Kathleen Geier | Political Animal | The Washington Monthly

Louis Proyect lnp3 at panix.com
Sat Apr 19 16:35:37 MDT 2014

Political Animal
April 19, 2014 12:21 PM Did someone say patrimonial capitalism? The 
White House hosts a meeting of teenage billionaire “philanthropists”

By Kathleen Geier
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Thomas Piketty, call your office!

Today’s New York Times — in the Fashion and Style section, but of 
course! — reports on a White House meeting of “100 young philanthropists 
and heirs to billionaire family fortunes.” Some of the people quoted in 
the article are as young as 19, and they are from family names you’ll 
recognize: Marriott, Pritzker, Rockefeller, etc.


NY Times, April 19 2014
Fashion & Style
Including the Young and the Rich
White House Hosts ‘Next Generation’ Young and Rich


On a crisp morning in late March, an elite group of 100 young 
philanthropists and heirs to billionaire family fortunes filed into a 
cozy auditorium at the White House.

Their name tags read like a catalog of the country’s wealthiest and most 
influential clans: Rockefeller, Pritzker, Marriott. They were there for 
a discreet, invitation-only summit hosted by the Obama administration to 
find common ground between the public sector and the so-called 
next-generation philanthropists, many of whom stand to inherit billions 
in private wealth.

“Moon shots!” one administration official said, kicking off the day on 
an inspirational note to embrace the White House as a partner and 
catalyst for putting their personal idealism into practice.

The well-heeled group seemed receptive. “I think it’s fantastic,” said 
Patrick Gage, a 19-year-old heir to the multibillion-dollar Carlson 
hotel and hospitality fortune. “I’ve never seen anything like this 
before.” Mr. Gage, physically boyish with naturally swooping Bieber 
bangs, wore a conservative pinstripe suit and a white oxford shirt. His 
family’s Carlson company, which owns Radisson hotels, Country Inns and 
Suites, T.G.I. Friday’s and other brands, is an industry leader in 
enforcing measures to combat trafficking and involuntary prostitution.

A freshman at Georgetown University, Mr. Gage was among the presenters 
at a breakout session, titled “Combating Human Trafficking,” that 
attracted a notable group of his peers. “The person two seats away from 
me was a Marriott,“ he said. “And when I told her about trafficking, 
right away she was like, ‘Uh, yeah, I want to do that.’ ”

Justin McAuliffe, a 24-year-old heir to the Hilton hotel fortune, was 
similarly impressed by the crowd. “Hilton, Marriott and Carlson,” he 
said. “That is cool.”

The daylong conference was organized by Thomas Kalil, a deputy director 
for technology and innovation in the White House Office of Science and 
Technology Policy, with the help of Nexus, a youth organization based in 
Washington that seeks to “catalyze” the next generation of billionaire 
philanthropists and other stakeholders.

Mr. Kalil moved nimbly among the affluent participants and through the 
ornate halls of the Eisenhower Executive Office Building, where the 
summit was held. “A lot of this is not just, you know, collaborations 
between the administration and philanthropists,” he said, “but 
philanthropists finding each other, finding other philanthropists with 
shared interests.”

(Disclosure: Although the event was closed to the media, I was invited 
by the founders of Nexus, Jonah Wittkamper and Rachel Cohen Gerrol, to 
report on the conference as a member of the family that started the 
Johnson & Johnson pharmaceutical company.)

Policy experts and donors recognize that there’s no better time than now 
to empower young philanthropists. Professionals in the field, citing an 
Accenture report from 2012, estimate that more than $30 trillion in 
wealth will pass from baby boomers to younger generations by around 
2050. At the same time, the Dorothy A. Johnson Center for Philanthropy 
(no relation to this reporter) and the nonprofit consulting group 21/64 
have concluded in a recent study on philanthropic giving that heirs are 
becoming involved in family foundations at an earlier age — specifically 
in their 20s and 30s — and imprinting them with the social values of 
their generation.

A case in point is Zac Russell, an eloquent 26-year-old whose 
grandfather made a fortune with the asset management firm Russell 
Investments and who officially joined the board of the Russell Family 
Foundation last year. While not an ardent supporter of the Obama 
administration, he decided to attend the conference to consult, he said, 
with White House experts on climate change and to discuss grass-roots 
efforts to improve water quality in Puget Sound, where the foundation is 

“It’s not just seen as some old guy writing checks anymore,” Mr. Russell 
said. “It’s young people who want to solve real problems.”

Sporting scraggy Brooklyn-style facial hair and a loosely fitting suit 
without a necktie that contrasted with the stately White House 
surroundings, Mr. Russell spoke with an air of cynicism. “Their head of 
public affairs contacted me and said, ‘Let’s talk,’ and so we’ll talk,” 
he said.

The conference, which lasted all day and included breaks for lunch and 
hallway hobnobbing, covered a broad range of topics including “Climate 
Change,” “Millennial Healthcare” and “Revitalizing Cities.”

One topic that seemed to generate intense interest among the wealthy 
heirs was impact investing, which refers to a socially conscious form of 
investing that seeks to generate both a social benefit and a meaningful 
financial return.

A morning breakout session on the subject was led by Jonathan 
Greenblatt, a former entrepreneur from the impact-investing world who 
now holds the lengthy title of special assistant to the president and 
director of the Office of Social Innovation and Civic Participation in 
the Domestic Policy Council. Held in a grand two-story room with mosaic 
floors and classical marble-fitted walls, it resembled an Ivy League 
honors seminar, with young investors packed around a table as Mr. 
Greenblatt instructed them to go out into the world not only to make 
money, but to do good.

It was rhetoric that Liesel Pritzker Simmons, 30, could appreciate. A 
strong believer in impact investing, Ms. Simmons received a fortune that 
Forbes magazine estimates at about $500 million, through a lawsuit 
against her father, Robert Pritzker, and other members of the family 
after she was left out of the Pritzker inheritance. In 2011, she married 
Ian Simmons, whose forebears were founders of the Montgomery Ward 
department store chain, and together they have become a recognizable 
power couple in philanthropic circles.

“We want 100 percent of our assets to be value aligned or impact 
invested,” Ms. Simmons said. She and her husband recently formed the 
Blue Haven Initiative, a public-spirited investment office and 
philanthropic organization. The gravitas she commands as a boldface 
name, even among this silk-stocking crowd, meant that people wanted her 
attention as she made her rounds at the conference.

“I was a little worried they were going to get a bunch of rich kids in 
the room and fund-raise for the Democratic Party,” Ms. Simmons said. 
“But they didn’t.”

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