The Generosity of America

Adam Meyerson
President, The Philanthropy Roundtable

Adam MeyersonAdam Meyerson has been president of The Philanthropy Roundtable since 2001. From 1993 to 2001, he was vice president for educational affairs at the Heritage Foundation. He served as editor-in-chief of Policy Review from 1983 to 1998, prior to which he was an editorial writer for the Wall Street Journal and managing editor of The American Spectator. Mr. Meyerson graduated summa cum laude from Yale University in 1974, and completed all requirements but the dissertation for a doctorate in international business from the Harvard Business School.

The following is adapted from a speech delivered in Washington, D.C., on January 8, 2010, in the “First Principles on First Fridays” lecture series sponsored by Hillsdale College’s Allan P. Kirby, Jr. Center for Constitutional Studies and Citizenship.

The late Milton Friedman once wrote, “Freedom in economic arrangements is itself a component of freedom broadly understood, so economic freedom is an end in itself. . . . Economic freedom is also an indispensable means toward the achievement of political freedom.” We can similarly say that freedom in philanthropic arrangements is an end in itself, but is also an indispensable means toward the achievement of political freedom.

Each of us should think about how we can make a difference with our own charitable contributions, following the examples of Zach Bonner with his little red wagon and the generous Midwestern farm families who helped to build Hillsdale College. And our federal and state governments, for their part, should respect and defend the freedom that is vital to the great American tradition of generous giving.