Category Archives: Philanthropy

Thor Halvorrsen’s Final Thoughts on The Election and Bernie Sanders

Many people are glad that the election season is over. It marks the end of a season of bitterness and opposition. Old friends who were blocked on social media can safely be unblocked. However, many are still wishing that things had turned out differently. Many suggest that had Bernie Sanders prevailed in the primary season, the election results would have been quite different. Among supporters of Bernie Sanders was the President of the Human Rights Foundation, Thor Halvorrsen. But what makes Halvorrsen so interesting is not necessarily that he supported Sanders. Rather, it is that in addition to that, he is adamantly opposed to democratic socialism as a form of government. Yet during this interview on Fox, Thor testified that he made a major donation to the campaign of Bernie Sanders.

Consider Halvorrsen’s Personal History

Halvorrsen has spent a good deal of his career fighting the injustices wrought by socialistic regimes. With the Human Rights Foundation, he will often pressure governments to release political prisoners who were arrested without a fair trial. But Halvorrsen’s skirmishes with socialism did not begin when he took his seat with the Human Rights Foundation. They began as a child. Halvorrsen saw brutalities beyond what most westerners can imagine. This includes seeing both of his parents murdered. His father was tortured as a political prisoner and eventually executed for the alleged crime of bank fraud. He has seen the abuse by the government in a socialistic regime.

Yet Socialism Was Still The Lesser Evil

Since most Americans are not educated in the history and potential policies of a socialistic government, most people do not understand it as well as Halvorrsen. Yet despite all of the fear and the potential for corruption, Halvorrsen still thought that socialism was the lesser evil when he considered his alternatives. Granted that even with a socialist President, the United States would still be a capitalist nation. But the fact that he would be willing to step in that direction speaks volumes.

Halvorrsen is a man of integrity and conscience. He also recognizes nuances where others will paint with a broad brush. He is a man who will make intelligent, moral, and calculated sacrifices for the good of the people.

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The Grand Days of Philanthropy Are Now: Dick DeVos and Charitable Giving

Some look back on the great contributions of Carnegie and Rockefeller as part of some golden age of charity. Both captains of industry spent billions towards noble causes in their day.

But really, these are the good old days. We’ve never before seen so much generosity expressed by so many, for so many varied projects.

I’m talking in this case specifically about the plan to expand the Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts in New York. The project started in 2013, and a call for donations went out. The response was overwhelming. By fall of 2015, they had seen contributions exceeding the initial $125 million target by over ten million dollars. The project to expand one of the great institutions of American arts will see three additional pavilions, and entirely separate riverside pavilion, and a pedestrian bridge to connect the two. Offices and dining spaces will be included when the upgraded center opens in 2018, surely to host even more than the current volume of 3 million visitors annually.

This shows a grand commitment to the arts in America. It’s a commitment from individuals who, having reached a level of success unimaginable in bygone ages, are giving back to the people and nation that made it all possible. These are self-made men and women acknowledging that no one is really entirely self-made.

Among the major contributors to the Kennedy Center expansion is Michigan’s Dick DeVos. After successfully leading the Amway Corporation his father co-founded, DeVos furthered his success with the Windquest Group and as owner of the Orlando Magic NBA team. This country has been very good to DeVos, and he’s shown his gratitude through his support for a wide array of charitable causes.

The Dick and Betsy DeVos foundation supports causes throughout his native Western Michigan – and beyond. The Grand Action organization Dick co-chairs has helped revitalize downtown Grand Rapids. One of the group’s major achievements has been the Grand Rapids Downtown Market. It has been the center of rebirth in a formerly blighted area. With the help of DeVos, it’s become a center for shopping, entertainment, relaxation, and education. It’s a prime example of the power of giving back.

Truly, we’re living in a time when the successful and prosperous take opportunities to give back to their communities in meaningful ways. The project at the Kennedy Center is just the latest, and perhaps grandest, example.