In the past decade, self-financed candidates, Michael Bloomberg, Jon Corzine, Meg Whitman, Linda McMahon and countless others spent collectively nearly one billion dollars to run for political office. Mayor Bloomberg spent $250 million to win three terms as mayor of New York City. Jon Corzine spent $131 million to win a U.S. Senate seat, the governorship of New Jersey and then failed in his reelection bid in 2009 despite out spending his rival Chris Christie by more than $12 million.
In addition, this year Meg Whitman, former eBay CEO, spent at least $140 million in her failed California gubernatorial race, while on the east coast, former WWE CEO Linda McMahon, spent at least $40 million in a losing effort to win a U.S. Senate seat against Connecticut Attorney General Richard Blumenthal, an admitted liar about his service in Vietnam.
Both Michael Bloomberg, who has a reported net worth of $18 billion, and Jon Corzine, whose net worth is around $700 million, chump change compared with Bloomberg’s, have made hundreds of millions of dollars of charitable donations through their respective foundations and individual contributions. Nevertheless, both men are advocates of a generous government social safety net for the poor and others.
Instead of spending $400 million to win elections, Bloomberg and Corzine could have created hundreds of nonprofit health centers New York City, New Jersey and other locations around the nation to provide primary health care to the poor and low-income families at no cost to taxpayers. If Bloomberg and Corzine had wanted to put a dent in the uninsured in America, they should have asked their foundations to seek the expertise of the Volunteer in Medicine Institute to help create enough VIMs to treat millions of uninsured Americans in the New York metropolitan region and around the country. There are currently scores of VIMs located throughout the country. Instead, they lined the pockets of political consultants and political hacks who helped get them elected.
I am sure other individuals of great wealth would have replicated their efforts and the country would have seen the creation of a reliable network of nonprofit health centers. Why? Because VIMs and other nonprofit health centers are efficient and provide high quality medical services, like the Zarephath Health Center in central New Jersey.
Meg Whitman and Linda McMahon could have done for California and Connecticut, respectively, what Corzine and Bloomberg failed to do in New Jersey and New York City and surrounding areas—Long Island, Westchester County and other areas in the Hudson Valley, and upstate New York.
Both Whitman and McMahon opened their wallets to pay for their campaigns. They learned an expensive lesson–money does not buy you “love” from the voters and certainly does not guarantee enough votes to win an election.
The bottom line: People of great wealth who want to do “good” should learn about the great work and inexpensive ways to address a social issue. Philanthropy is the best way and least costly method to help others. No less an expert than the late Peter Drucker hit the nail on head the nearly twenty years ago when he wrote—“Government has proved incompetent at solving social problems.” However, old myths last longer than they should—that is why we need a social revolution—replacing taxpayer funded social services with the best nonprofits in America.