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More Bang For Your Buck
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October 12, 2007, 01:09 AM
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Harvard`s endowment generated another 23% return on investment in the year ending in June 2007, so, along with new gifts, the university`s endowment has reached $34.9 billion, up from about $7 billion just twelve years ago.

In other words, Harvard doesn`t need any more money. But, it will keep getting more money, because everybody loves a winner.

Donors should realize that they get a bigger bang for their buck by donating to think tanks — literally, in the case of the American Enterprise Institute, which was the epicenter of the Iraq Attaq whooping, and is trying to be the same thing for Bomb Bomb Iran.

Here`s an excerpt from the American Enterprise Institute`s press release on the retirement of their head, Christopher DeMuth:

"AEI grew from a budget of $7.7 million in 1987 to $23.6 million in 2006. AEI has operated at a surplus of revenues over expenses throughout his tenure, with an average annual surplus of more than $1 million. The Institute was $9 million in debt when Mr. DeMuth arrived; today its net asset balance is $76 million, with additional outstanding financial pledges exceeding $60 million."

So, $76 million is just a little over 1/2000th of Harvard`s $35 billion. Now Harvard has lots of things that AEI doesn`t have, but, let me ask you this: Does it have its own war?

I rest my case.

What would be even more efficient than donating to a think tank, however, would be personalized patronage. For example, how many people in America are rich enough to pay Greg Cochran enough money so he could stop engineering state of the art telescopes for a living and concentrate on his research, scientific and strategic? And maybe enough for him to hire a bright young local lad, such as Thrasymachus, as an assistant?

Similarly, the operating deficit of political magazines and webzines is a drop in the bucket compared to the vast amount flowing to Ivy League colleges, but with much more impact on the world.