Christopher T. Ogden

Blog About Projects

03 Jan 2014
Long term thinking

I’ve always been amazed by plans for a future that is almost certainly outside the lifespan of involved parties.

Such as these:

  1. A thousand year endowment left to Hartwick College by an eccentric lawyer in the 1930s. This gift had the potential to disrupt the entire world economy with its vast vast accrual of compound interest.1
  2. Pretty much any project of The Long Now Foundation, but especially the ten thousand year clock.
  3. 99 year leases.2

I used to think that this sort of thing was silly. But then I remembered that philanthropy is about others, and improving a life a thousand years from now is just as meaningful as helping someone today.

At the very least, it makes our constant worries about the daily grind of life seem a bit less significant, doesn’t it?

  1. I first read about this in a post on Marginal Revolution. I think I remember reading elsewhere that the college challenged the terms in court and received the money early.

  2. My neighbor mentioned the other day that he had asked the county fair to move the ticket booth at the main entrance from a section of his yard by the main gate, as their 99 year lease was up. That was the impetus for this post, though probably the poorest example above; long term leases are often used to circumvent certain taxes. In the case of my neighbor, perhaps there was a no transfer clause as well?