Philanthropy, Politics, And Culture: Is There A Connection?

When people think of the concept of “culture”, they perhaps have a tendency to imagine the sort of thing that exists on public television: Symphony orchestras playing outdated classical compositions, or long winded historical surveys of the Roman Empire or other bygone eras. But the truth, as should be obvious to anyone who stops for a moment to think the concept through, is that “culture” is as elastic and vital a term as has ever existed. And, to make a long story short, the American spirit of free enterprise has had a long and distinguished role in shaping it.

How Free Enterprise And Corporate Philanthropy Have Shaped America

Ever since the days of the (original) Tea Party, the spirit of free enterprise has shaped our unique destiny. In fact, the entire history of the United States, whether economic, cultural, or political, has been radically informed by the overriding ideal that men are free to pursue their own destinies without excess interference from powers set above them.

This uniquely Western (and specifically American) ideal continues to guide our basic culture to this very day. And it shows no signs of abating or evolving into any contrary form of expression. American entrepreneurs, such as Robert Rosenkranz among others, continue to show great ingenuity and leadership when it comes to keeping the spirit of free enterprise alive and well in our great nation.

Corporate Philanthropy: The Guiding Hand Behind American Culture

Another term that many Americans today seem to misunderstand is “patronage”. For many, if not most, of us, the word “patronage” conjures up visions of the scheming Popes of the Renaissance era, giving vast sums of money to great artists (Michelangelo, Da Vinci, and the like) in order to gratify their vast egos. While there exists a grain of truth in such a scenario, the story certainly does not end there.

Today’s modern corporate philanthropists, such as the aforementioned Rosenkranz, play a leading role in guiding and shaping the form and expression of American culture. Part of these various endowments include the respectable programming that you see on public television, such as Ken Burn’s “Civil War” documentary. However, the generosity and vision of modern philanthropy goes far beyond that.

Without Free Enterprise, No Modern Culture Is Possible

Every moment that you witness on television, or hear on the radio, or on your computer, is essentially made possible by the advertising dollars of large corporations. But the connection goes well beyond the simple equation of commerce. Corporate philanthropists have helped to shape the very political content that gains free expression on programs such as “Meet The Press”, “O’ Reilly Factor”, and the like.

Many of your favorite “talking heads” that appear on MSNBC and Fox News, from Rachel Maddow to Lou Dobbs, have benefited from an Ivy League college education, the content of which was to a large degree determined by the generous contributions of corporate sponsors.

Preparing Our Youth For The Future Of Free Enterprise

From special “think tanks” that help to determine the content of modern higher education to charitable contributions made to fund debate teams and student political groups, corporate philanthropists play a major role in helping to instill the living spirit of American free enterprise in the best and brightest members of the upcoming generation.