The question of whether businesses should be public-spirited is a great one for class discussion. Teachers and professors will want to bookmark Creative Capitalism. Thanks to Tyler Cowen for the pointer.

Here is Michael Kinsley’s introduction:

why not just pay out the money in dividends and let the shareholders do what they want with it? [Warren Buffett] pointed out that this would add a layer of taxation…Still, free-market purists would say that this is a faulty arrangement and that there is no reason the government should be promoting corporate philanthropy over individual philanthropy.

…“Tiered pricing” is a genteel name for price discrimination, which is ordinarily frowned upon. In theory it’s even impossible. And even in practice, there is leakage. (When you cross the border from Canada to the United States these days, the customs officials are looking for prescription drugs more than for recreational ones.) But giving poor countries a price break on software and pharmaceuticals can be good creative capitalism even as it solves a problem for capitalism of the traditional kind.

…the big question whether what is called “creative capitalism” is just charity in disguise. And whether the beneficiaries might prefer to take their charity straight.