What Comes Next?: How private givers can rescue America in an era of political frustration

The Philanthropy Roundtable
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Social disorders are increasing. We’re economically divided. Our political process is a blood sport. Government agencies are failing to repair the key maladies that afflict us. Two thirds of Americans believe the country is on the wrong track. 

It’s quite likely that politics and public policy will be sources of frustration for many Americans for years to come. 

But even if Washington, D.C., remains frozen tundra for people who want to improve the nation, powerful culture change is within reach. As you are about to read, we’ve been in this position before. And the clear lesson of history is that there are many paths to progress other than those that run along the Potomac. There are precedents and prior triumphs we can copy, and many places we can productively invest to make our country better. 

This short book explains how citizens have repeatedly used voluntary action, private giving, and the processes of civil society to dramatically elevate our society. In eras when our national prospects were considerably bleaker than they are now, Americans found effective ways to solve their problems. It can happen again. 

This book offers inspiration and a practical roadmap for the next generation of patriotic philanthropists willing to organize, spend, and act to refine the United States of America, even in an era of political frustration.

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About the author

 Karl Zinsmeister oversees all magazine, book, and website publishing at The Philanthropy Roundtable in Washington, D.C. He also founded and advises the Roundtable’s program on philanthropy for veterans and servicemembers. Karl has authored 12 books, including the monumental Almanac of American Philanthropy published in 2016, a book on donor funding for public-policy change, a book on philanthropic support of charter schools, two different works of embedded reporting on the Iraq war, a storytelling cookbook, even a graphic novel published by Marvel Comics. He is creator of the “Sweet Charity” podcast, available on iTunes or at SweetCharityPodcast.org. He has made a PBS feature film and written hundreds of articles for publications ranging from the Atlantic to the Wall Street Journal. Earlier in his career he was a Senate aide to Daniel Patrick Moynihan, then the J. B. Fuqua Fellow at the American Enterprise Institute, and editor in chief for nearly 13 years of The American Enterprise magazine. From 2006 to 2009 Karl served in the West Wing as the President’s chief domestic policy adviser and director of the White House Domestic Policy Council. He is a graduate of Yale University, and also studied at Trinity College Dublin.

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Additional Information

The Philanthropy Roundtable
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Published on
Nov 15, 2016
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Political Science / Reference
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Introduction: the author affirms that the germ of this work was Dorothy Days direction to get his pieces collected.

Dedicatory poem O For A Voice by William Blake

A Tribute to Dorothy Day from authors Prologue, Rags of Time: A Season in Prison

Jim Wilson Gets Three Years, December 1966: reports on the trip to Newark, NJ, with Dorothy Day and Pat Rusk to witness one of the first draft card burners sentencing.

The Fast and the Waters, March, 1967: the story of a two-week fast by Catholic Workers at the National Shrine in Washington, DC.

Chrystie Street, May 1967: Describes the daily routine of workers in their various settings at the Chrystie Street House of Hospitality.

Rangers Riot, Strikers Suffer, Chavez: We Will Endure, June, 1967: reports on a melon strike in Rio Grande City, Texas; the strike-breaking activities of Texas Rangers, Chavezs intervention.

The Powerless Blacks On Long Island, July 1967: reports on unorganized farm workers and conditions in labor camps on potato farms.

Chrystie Street, July 1967: Living with violence during Summer of Riots.

Men of the Fields on the Pavements of New York, September 1967: reports on visit of California farm workers to the Worker, their base as they organize Hunts Point Market.

Delano: The City and the Strikers, November 1967: report on Chavezs community and headquarters, Forty Acres, in Delano, CA.

Chrystie Street, November 1967:reports on FBI agents infiltration of our soup line.

Chrystie Street, December 1967: Story of Mama, an aged neighbor and daily guest of our house, her disappearance, and our discovery of her.

A Man and a Vision, December 1967: reports on one of the volunteer laborers at Forty Acres, Emil Flackner, a plasterer.

Chrystie Street, January 1968: describes Death and the Christmas season at the House.

A Response to the Resistance, January 1968: a speech by author at the Eastern Conference for Non-Cooperation with Selective Service, October 30, 1966

Chrystie Street, March 1968: report on Bowery men.

Chrystie Street, April 1968: on the assassination of Martin Luther King.

Chrystie Street, June 1968: a letter about the House to Jim Wilson, CW editor, in prison at Allenwood Prison Farm.

Miller and Kelly Jailed, July, 1968: Miller was the first to burn his draft card, Kelly was a beautiful soul.

Che and the Revolutionary experience, July-August 1968: a discussion of Ches Diary in terms of aspects of a revolutionary way of life.

36 East First Street, September 1968: a report on the move to the new House, new volunteers, the authors arrest and indictment.

36 East First Street, November 1968: facing winter in the new House on the Bowery.

Cogley and the Relevance of Radicalism, November 1968: a response to an article critical of the CW by a former Catholic Worker.

36 East First Street, December 1968: Letter to Dan Kelly at Allenwood Prison Farm.

Jailed Editors Write, February 1969: Letter from author to House from Federal House of Detention in New York City.

Three Prison Poems, May, 1969: Ways of Doing Time, To My Wife, and Prayer.

Post-Prison Poems, February 1971: Soup line Revisited, In Deerfield, Massachusetts.

John Dunn Hunter: Victim and Measure, September 1973: A review of Richard Drinnons White Savage: The Case of John Dunn Hunter, and in response to Wounded Knee II.

The Monument, June-July 1983: a report on a visit to the Vietnam Memorial.

The Face of Falsehood, March 1987: excerpt from my 1986 work, a literary study of Melville and Hawthorne.

A History of Abandonment, June-July 1991: an article in response to the Iraqi War.

In Defense of a Generation of Objectors, 1997: a response to a military mans criticism of those who refused to fight in Vietnam.

An Open Letter to the Catholic Worker, 1998: a defense of Dorothy Day in response to Cardinal OConners effort to pursue canonization of her as the pat

America has seen faith-based initiatives and “the audacity of hope” in twenty-first-century politics, but few participants in our political scene have invoked the other Christian virtue of charity as a guiding principle. Abraham Lincoln extolled the merit of “loving thy neighbor as thyself,” especially as a critique of the hypocrisy of slavery, but a discussion of Christian love is noticeably absent from today’s debates about religion and democracy.
In this provocative book, Grant Havers argues that charity is a central tenet of what Lincoln once called America’s “political religion.” He explores the implications of making Christian love the highest moral standard for American democracy, showing how Lincoln’s legacy demands that a true democracy be charitable toward all—and that only a people who lived according to such ideals could succeed in building democracy as Lincoln understood it.
Havers argues that it is simplistic to conflate Lincoln’s invocation of “with charity for all” with his abiding support for the ideal of human equality. The ethic of charity in his view also brought a uniquely Christian realism to the universalism of democracy. He also describes how, since World War I, intellectuals and political leaders have denied that there exists a necessary relation between democracy and Christian love, proposing that democracy is sufficiently ethical without reliance on a specific religious tradition. Today’s neoconservatives and liberals instead posit a universal yearning for democracy that requires no foundation in the ethic of charity. Havers shows that this democratic universalism, espoused by those who believe a “chosen people” should uphold the natural rights of humanity, is alien to the sober thought of both the founders and Lincoln.
This carefully argued work defends Lincoln’s understanding of charity as essential to democracy while emphasizing the difficulty of fusing this ethic with the desire to spread democracy to people who do not share America’s Christian heritage. In considering the prospect of America’s leaders rediscovering a moral foreign policy based on charity rather than the costly idolization of democracy, Lincoln and the Politics of Christian Love makes a timely contribution to the wider debate over both the meaning of religion in American politics and the mission of America in the world—and opens a new window on Lincoln’s lasting legacy.
The modern American foundation as an instrumentality for charitable and philanthropic giving is in many ways a unique and complex social/economic/political institution. This is particularly the case for foundations with large assets. As a social phenomenon, the foundation has deep roots in the past. At the beginnings of any degree of civilization charitable giving and rudimentary forms of foundations emerge. This is the case in many regions of the world. The pattern is consistent: once enough property or wealth beyond primitive human needs is accumulated, some of it begins to be set aside for what the donors of such wealth consider worthwhile purposes. The serious literature contributing greatly to public perception of philanthropy and foundations has been relatively sparse. Much of what is available is quantitative and statistical in nature. There has been limited objective attention to the motives or reasons spurring individual philanthropists to engage or not to engage in creating foundations; such motivation needs historical and comparative analysis. Major investigations and studies of foundations, together with ancillary national, regional, and international organizations to facilitate such study, have received spotty consideration. Philanthropists and Foundation Globalization addresses three interrelated aspects of foundation history. First, it reviews biographical-historical profiles of the founding philanthropists and their heirs engaged in international giving. Second, it discusses major governmental and non-governmental investigations and studies of foundations including domestic ones, and also foreign ones in which U.S. participants have played a prominent role, spanning the period 1912 to the present. Third, it chronicles foundation developments and activities in Europe at the close of the twentieth century. The volume provides a historical account of some U.S. foundations' international activity in a particular region in a specific time period and their accomplishments. In addition to its other accomplishments, this volume is the first effort to place the Soros, MacArthur, Templeton and Kerkorian foundations in a global context. This is a major contribution to an important new area of public and academic interest.
Includes 32 color photos taken by the author during the month he was embedded with the 82nd in Kuwait and Iraq.

This is a riveting account of the war in Iraq moving north with the 82nd Airborne. Units of the 82nd depart Kuwait and convoy to Iraq's Tallil Air Base en route to night-and-day battles within the major city of Samawah and its intact bridges across the Euphrates. Boots on the Ground quickly becomes an action-filled microcosm of the new kinds of ultramodern war fighting showcased in the overall battle for Iraq. At the same time it remains specific to the daily travails of the soldiers. Karl Zinsmeister, a frontline reporter who traveled with the 82nd, vividly conveys the careful planning and technical wizardry that go into today's warfare, even local firefights, and he brings to life the constant air-ground interactions that are the great innovation of modern precision combat.

What exactly does it feel like to travel with a spirited body of fighting men? To come under fire? To cope with the battlefield stresses of sleep-deprivation, and a steady diet of field rations for weeks on end? Readers of this day-to-day diary are left with not only a flashing sequence of strong mental images, but also a notion of the sounds and smells and physical sensations that make modern military action unforgettable.

Ultimately, Boots on the Ground is a human story: a moving portrayal of the powerful bonds of affection, trust, fear, and dedication that bind real soldiers involved in battle. There are unexpected elements: The humor that bubbles up amidst dangerous fighting. The pathos of a badly wounded young boy. The affection openly exhibited by many American soldiers--love of country, love of family and hometown, love of each other. This is a true-life tale of superbly trained men in extraordinary circumstances, packed with concrete detail, often surpassing fiction for sheer drama.

Twenty-five years ago, charter schools hadn’t even been dreamed up. Today they are mushrooming across the country. There are 6,500 charter schools operating in 42 states, with more than 600 new ones opening every year. Within a blink there will be 3 million American children attending these freshly invented institutions (and 5 million students in them by the end of this decade). 

It is philanthropy that has made all of this possible. Without generous donors, charter schools could never have rooted and multiplied in this way. And philanthropists have driven relentless annual improvements—better trained school founders, more prepared teachers, sharper curricula, smarter technology—that have allowed charter schools to churn out impressive results.

Studies show that student performance in charter schools is accelerating every year, as high-performing models replace weaker ones. Charter schools as a whole already exceed conventional schools in results. The top charters that are now growing so fast elevate student outcomes more than any other schools in the U.S.—especially among poor and minority children.

Charter schooling may be the most important social innovation of our age, and it is just beginning to boom. Philanthropists anxious to improve America have more opportunities to make a difference through charter schools than in almost any other way. This book provides the facts, examples, cautionaries, inspiration, research, and practical experience that philanthropists will need as charter schooling shifts gears from promising experiment to mainstream movement bringing improved opportunity to millions of students.
Donating money to modify public thinking and government policy has now taken its place next to service-centered giving as a constructive branch of philanthropy. Many donors now view public-policy reform as a necessary adjunct to their efforts to improve lives directly.

This is perhaps inevitable given the mushrooming presence of government in our lives. In 1930, just 12 percent of U.S. GDP was consumed by government; by 2012 that had tripled to 36 percent. Unless and until that expansion of the state reverses, it is unrealistic to expect the philanthropic sector to stop trying to have a say in public policies.

Sometimes it’s not enough to build a house of worship; one must create policies that make it possible for people to practice their faith freely within society. Sometimes it’s not enough to pay for a scholarship; one must change laws so that high-quality schools exist for scholarship recipients to take advantage of.

Yet public-policy philanthropy has special ways of mystifying and frustrating practitioners. It requires understanding of governmental practice, interpretation of human nature, and some philosophical perspective. Public-policy philanthropists may encounter opponents operating from different principles who view them as outright enemies. Moreover, public-policy struggles never seem to end: victories one year become defeats the next, followed by comebacks, then setbacks, and on and on.

This book was written to help donors navigate all of those obstacles. It draws on deep history, and rich interviews with the very best practitioners of ­­public-policy philanthropy in America today. Whatever your aspirations for U.S. society and governance, this guide will help you find the best ways to make a difference. 

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