Mother Teresa on Wall St.
By Shlomo Maital
What are the odds you will find Mother Teresa on Wall St.? Not too high? Would you accept instead a young 25-year-old computer science graduate from MIT named Jason Trigg instead? Here is what Dylan Thomas wrote about him, in the Washington Post (May 31):
“Jason Trigg went into finance because he is after money — as much as he can earn. The 25-year-old certainly had other career options. An MIT computer science graduate, he could be writing software for the next tech giant. Or he might have gone into academia in computing or applied math or even biology. He could literally be working to cure cancer. Instead, he goes to work each morning for a high-frequency trading firm. It’s a hedge fund on steroids. He writes software that turns a lot of money into even more money. For his labors, he reaps an uptown salary — and over time his earning potential is unbounded. It’s all part of the plan. Why this compulsion? It’s not for fast cars or fancy houses. Trigg makes money just to give it away. His logic is simple: The more he makes, the more good he can do. He’s figured out just how to take measure of his contribution. His outlet of choice is the Against Malaria Foundation, considered one of the world’s most effective charities. It estimates that a $2,500 donation can save one life. A quantitative analyst at Trigg’s hedge fund can earn well more than $100,000 a year. By giving away half of a high finance salary, Trigg says, he can save many more lives than he could on an academic’s salary.”
I think this is a great idea. But New York Times columnist David Brooks (Global NYT June 5) is doubtful. “If you are thinking of following his example, I would really urge caution.” Why???
First: “Every hour you spend with others, you become more like the people around you.” In other words, Trigg’s brain will become polluted by the money-grubbing it’s-all-about-me culture.
Second: “If you choose a profession that doesn’t arouse your everyday passion for the sake of serving, …you might become one of those people who loves humanity in general but not the particular humans immediately around.”
Third: “I would worry about turning yourself into a means rather than an end.”
I love David Brooks’ insight. But in this case, I think he is horribly wrong. What do YOU think, reader?