Niall Ferguson: Yes, Wall Street Helps the Poor

Roundup: Historians' Take

Niall Ferguson is a professor of history at Harvard University and a professor of business administration at Harvard Business School. He is also a senior research fellow at Jesus College, Oxford University, and a senior fellow at the Hoover Institution, Stanford University. His Latest book, Civilization: The West and the Rest, will be published in November.

It was a scene to curdle liberal blood. A ballroom full of New York hedge-fund managers playing poker ... to raise money for charter schools.

That’s where I found myself last Wednesday: at a Texas Hold ’Em tournament to raise money for the Success Charter Network, which currently runs nine schools in some of New York’s poorest neighborhoods.

While Naomi Wolf was being arrested for showing solidarity with the Occupy Wall Street movement, there I was, consorting with the 1 percent the protesters hate. It’s no surprise that the bread-heads enjoy gambling. But to see them using their ill-gotten gains to subvert this nation’s great system of public education! I was shocked, shocked.

Except that I wasn’t. I was hugely cheered up. America’s financial elite needs a compelling answer to Occupy Wall Street. This could be it: educate Harlem ... with our poker chips.

Life, after all, is a lot like poker. No matter how innately smart you may be, it’s very hard to win if you are dealt a bad hand....

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