Saturday, July 15, 2017

Ed Norton's Paycheck

“When I am playing with my cat, how do I know she is not playing with me?”

Montaigne’s question gets to the heart of felinedom. The cat is an independent soul, secretive and regal. If a human plays with her, it is because the cat allows the human to do so. 

As I write this, I see through my window a neighbor walk by, in one hand a dog leash and in the other a plastic bag. The bag is to hold the dog shit the man will scoop up after the canine is finished. The British seem to prefer—more aptly—the term “lead” for “leash,” more aptly because the dog leads the human to the preferred spot. And how unapt is it, therefore, to refer to the human as the canine’s “master,” when the former has to clean up the latter’s shit?

. . . if you were the King, then you employed someone to wipe your bottom for you. The position of royal bum wiper was officially called 'The Groom of the Stool' the more formal title would be read as 'Groom of the King's Close Stool to King (name )'. As disgusting as this job may seem to be, it was a much sought after position. Noblemen would fight hard and dirty - excuse the pun - to get their sons employed in this role          . . .                                                                                                                                     Helen Murphy Howell                                                
With the reins in his hands, the horseback rider, unlike the dogwalker, has complete control of the animal. But unfortunately, he does not travel with a plastic bag to clean up after the horse, which is prone to leave its droppings wherever it pleases along the way—accompanied by the total indifference of the rider. The manuring of city streets by saddle horses, carriage horses, and cart horses was a major health hazard before the arrival of the motor car.
[The] huge number of horses created major problems. The main concern was the large amount of manure left behind on the streets. On average a horse will produce between 15 and 35 pounds of manure per day, so you can imagine the sheer scale of the problem. The manure on London’s streets also attracted huge numbers of flies which then spread typhoid fever and other diseases. . . . The streets of London were beginning to poison its people.                                                                                                                                  Ben Johnson                                                                                          
And then there’s human waste.

Be thankful that you weren’t a contemporary of William Shakespeare. In Elizabethan times the middle of London streets were open sewers. Thus, when in Romeo and Juliet Sampson, a Capulet servant, says, “I will take the wall of any man or maid of Montague’s,” he is boasting that he will force anyone else to have to walk closer to the filth in the street. 

At least now we have underground sewer systems.
In one of Raymond Hill’s Dalziel and Pascoe policiers the mystery begins to be untangled when the detectives learn of the special charity interest of the missing man. While we might scatter a few dollars here and there among miscellaneous charities, we direct the bulk of our largesse and attention to the very few that have greatly affected our lives (or those of our family members and close friends) or to philanthropic endeavors that we especially esteem. As examples of the latter case, there is—on the large scale—the funding of over 2,500 libraries by Andrew Carnegie and his foundation* and—on the most modest scale—my status as a Patron of Carnegie Hall. 
Learning to Bridge a Generation Gap in Philanthropy
Leaders of family foundations who have spent a lifetime funding things dear to their hearts often learn that their children have their own ideas. So what to do?
NY Times 7/14/17
Indeed, what to do when the philanthropic money dries up? A concert hall can’t suddenly metamorphose into a cancer clinic.
Or public money?
President Trump’s initial budget proposal would end aid for poor families to pay their heating bills, defund after-school programs at public schools, and make fewer grants available to college students. Community block grants that provide disaster relief, aid neighborhoods affected by foreclosure, and help rural communities access water, sewer systems [my emphasis], and safe housing would be eliminated. Emma Green, The Atlantic 3/26/17**
Ms Green’s article is headlined “Can Religious Charities Take the Place of the Welfare State?”

The answer is obvious—unless you’re a complete blithering idiot.***

Sure, religious organizations and private philanthropists have done great things to alleviate misery and promote culture and education—think, for example, of hospitals like Columbia Presbyterian, Holy Name, and Long Island Jewish, or the aforementioned Carnegie libraries or Cooper Union and Stanford University.****

But no religious or private philanthropic organization has a sewer system named after it. 

Or paid Ed Norton’s salary.

*Even here we find the importance of the connection to the personal life of the donor, as the early libraries were established in Carnegie’s birth nation, Scotland, and in the Pennsylvania area where his business prospered. 

***Such as Mick Mulvaney, the director of the White House Office of Management and Budget, who—quoting Green again—“suggested recently that even small amounts of federal funding for programs like Meals on Wheels, which delivers food to house-bound seniors, may not be justified.” (Starve, you old farts!) 
****Philanthropic money does not always come from the daintiest sources. When Stanford deemed that the nickname of its athletic teams (“The Indians”) was no longer acceptable and searched for a new one, the students voted for “The Robber Barons.” The University chose “Cardinal.”

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