Our traditions are slowly fading away

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I see other traditions quickly fading in our high-speed world. Once upon a time there were countless families whose names were associated with charitable giving. Their willingness to share their wealth was the catalyst for some of America’s greatest buildings. Hospitals, libraries, religious institutions, colleges, parks and other great symbols of charity blossomed as a result of great philanthropic gestures.

Today there are a shrinking number of wealthy families doing the great things that make America stand out as a beacon of generosity. Yes, there are still a large number of individuals who are willing to underwrite some great cause with a handsome check, but many of their children and grandchildren are not so inclined.

You can find many third- and fourth-generation successors to the very wealthy at fancy golf clubs and driving $300,000 cars, but you won’t find their names on the bronze plaque when some cancer center is being dedicated. People like Warren Buffett, David Koch, Michael Bloomberg and Bill Gates continue to make generous donations to worthy causes, but what role, if any, will their children and grandchildren play in making the world a better place?

There is no way to stop the clock and give our population a temporary conscience check. We’re moving much too fast, and are far too preoccupied with less important things at a time when tradition after tradition is fading away.

Jerry Kremer was a state assemblyman for 23 years, and chaired the Assembly’s Ways and Means Committee for 12 years. He now heads Empire Government Strategies, a business development and legislative strategy firm. Comments about this column? JKremer@liherald.com.

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