Friday, May 31, 2013

First You Get The Money, Then You Get The Power To Help Others

The point that Dylan Matthews makes here (and which the good folks at 80,000 Hours have been making) is that you may do better things for the world if you go to Wall Street and make a whole messload of money than if you go to poorer regions of the world to help people -- provided that you give a lot of the money to people who are going to those poorer regions of the world to help people. The forces of good need smart well-intentioned volunteers, but they also need smart well-intentioned financial benefactors.

Dylan's article profiles starts off with a guy who's working a hedge fund job to donate money to the Against Malaria Foundation. It's a case study I'd want to mention to a lot of nice folks I've met who have jobs that pay well, but who feel like they aren't doing enough to help others. What I'd tell them is: don't feel like you need to make any kind of career change to help others effectively -- your salary gives you awesome powers already! If you're in position to be an effective donor, that may be the best thing you can do, especially if you're the sort of person who functions better in a nice American city with coffee shops and sewers than in Haiti or Sudan. 

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