In Response to: Reckoning With Wealth

I read “Reckoning With Wealth” in the March 4 issue of PAW and can only admire Kate Poole ’09’s commitment to putting her inherited wealth to charitable use. I also read Gaetano Cipriano ’78’s letter addressing Ms. Poole’s activities (Inbox, April 22) and, while I likewise admire Mr. Cipriano’s drive and persistence in “amassing a nine-figure net worth” through his own hard work, I’m shocked by the tone of his letter.

Reasonable people could diverge from Ms. Poole’s conclusion that inherited wealth should be spent for charitable ends rather than personal or familial ones. That is, and properly should be, the individual’s call to make. But feelings of guilt or simple ambivalence about inheriting great wealth that one did nothing personally to earn (Ms. Poole’s point) are an important driver of charitable largesse in our society, right up there with tax inducements, and charitable causes would be much the poorer without such motivation. And notably, in many cases charitable donations have the effect of lessening the burdens of government by helping to fund necessary services that would otherwise fall to governments — and hence taxpayers — to provide out of their own resources.

Since Mr. Cipriano’s description of his net worth suggests that he’s in a very high tax bracket, one would think he’d appreciate decisions like Ms. Poole’s to help lessen some of his potential tax burdens. But instead of welcoming such philanthropy, he vilifies Ms. Poole and the other charitable donors cited in the March 4 article with epithets like “spoiled brats” and “pathetic crybabies.” One can only wonder what life did to Mr. Cipriano to generate such wild invective against persons who have not only done him no harm but may, in fact, be benefiting him.

Matthew D. Shapiro ’76
Wilmette, Ill.