3Ls: This Holiday Season, Give More Than Thanks

If you’re at HLS, you likely have many reasons to give thanks. For example, you are receiving a world-class education, are likely to be financially secure for the rest of your life, and now have the political access that comes with a degree from this institution.

You are also (currently, at least) living in a country where no war rages, death by infectious disease has been nearly eliminated, functional-if-flawed public health and education infrastructures exist, infant mortality is low, and almost nobody lives in the extreme poverty that still afflicts hundreds of millions of people around the globe.

You’re also alive now. The same cannot be said of the three children under age 5 who died from easily and cheaply preventable or treatable ailments since you started reading this piece.

You all recognize this good fortune, and no doubt reflected on it over the past week. If you’re as outraged as we are over this ongoing catastrophe, take comfort in the knowledge that you have the opportunity to now take effective actions aimed at ameliorating the worst moral problems afflicting the planet.

Most HLS students will be in the top 0.1% of earners globally, and virtually all will be in the top 3%. Thus, each of us will soon claim a slice of the global income pie somewhere between 25 and 131 times as large as the average person’s slice; more than half the world has even less than average.

Our large incomes give us the amazing opportunity to immensely benefit those who earn the least, especially when we give to highly effective charities. We urge you to take the first step towards a more just distribution of the global pie by pledging to give at least 1% of your future income to such charities this Giving Tuesday. There’s pie in it for you if you do.

Carolyn Killea, Matt Reardon, Vivian Dong, and Adam Savitt are 3Ls, and Cullen O'Keefe is a 2L. They are individual board members of HLS Effective Altruists.