LETTERS

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November 14, 2008

Booth donation could be better spent

The idea of going to school to learn best how to squeeze money out of other people offends me to begin with, but to amass millions of dollars and put it back into that cause is closed-minded, ignorant, and inhumane.

I was surprised to see that both accounts of David Booth’s donation to the U of C in the November 7 edition of the Maroon were rather neutral or even congratulatory. I expected to see outrage from the generally cynical Maroon. There must be others out there like me who are appalled and even disgusted by Mr. Booth’s generosity to his alma mater.

The idea of going to school to learn best how to squeeze money out of other people offends me to begin with, but to amass millions of dollars and put it back into that cause is closed-minded, ignorant, and inhumane. Inhumane because Booth is simply ignoring all of the uses to which $300 million could better be put to use. Here’s a relatively conservative idea: an anonymous donation to the U of C to eliminate debt for low-income students.

How does one amass that much wealth to begin with? In my limited understanding, the money in investment funds comes from the informed pushing around of numbers on a screen. I could not in my wildest dreams come up with a more abstract or isolated way of “earning” the means to buy food from the Earth and a shelter made of materials from the earth (and whatever else millionaires buy). Can one get further from the realities of the world than that?

However, it was the Zimmer quote in the front-page piece that provided particular insight. He said, “[Booth] is an example of how to take the value of a U of C education, and apply it outside of the academy into something real, and powerful.” Until now, I hadn’t realized what the real, powerful value of a U of C education was, but now I see it’s about obtaining unfathomable amounts of monetary wealth and pumping it back into this institution. How unbelievably hypocritical that while a foundation of my U of C education is reading the theory of Karl Marx, the value of David Booth’s education from this same institution is learning best how to anticipate changes in the market to the benefit of his (already wealthy) clients.

Mr. Booth’s gift is a violent slap in the face to me and the thousands of young people like me who, through their educations, are realizing just how near impossible it will be to effect any positive change within our lifetimes. Together with Zimmer’s quote, the overwhelming message is “Eliza, don’t even bother. Nothing ‘real and powerful’ can come from your feminist, environmentalist, compassionate, humanist blathering. The only thing that grants real power in this world is millions of dollars. Your U of C education is worthless.” It’s a realization that regardless of how hard we work, there will always be people who believe this rampant reinvestment in the systems that destroy our world is worthwhile. It’s very disheartening, and I’m pissed. Anyone with me?

Eliza Behlen

Class of 2011