Sunday, September 22, 2013

Talented

Sales of my book are going briskly! Well, I bought twenty copies. But I may sooner or later be confronted with the question of what to do with any royalties I receive. I made a promise way back when I was teaching on "The Problem of Evil" that I didn't want to profit from evil, and the few royalties I received for The Problem of Evil: A Reader went to charity. So too the advance I got from Princeton for this book.

In fact, let me tell you what happened to that advance, for therein lies a lesson. This was in December 2009 (did it really take me four years to write a little book?!), and the New York Times magazine had recently published a cover story by Sheryl WuDunn and Nicholas Kristof called "Why Women's Rights are the Cause of our Time." This was also the time when microlending was news, so I followed a suggestion in the WuDunn
 
and Kristof piece and used my $2500 to makes loans through the microlending site Kiva. In the not quite four years since then, I've made nearly 400 loans (most are $25), almost all to women, in lots of countries, totalling over $10,000! Each time I pay the recommended 15% to cover Kiva's overhead, but there's still money available for lending after many cycles of relending. Wow, to be a banker!

My friend L, who has degrees and experience both in religion and in business, recently told me that he thought all liberal arts students needed to learn about compound interest. Without an understanding of compounding they not only take on debt they shouldn't, but fundamentally misunderstand the way the world works. Amen to that!

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