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Archive for December 28th, 2011

The Fashion Whip: 2011’s Best Dressed Politicians (It’s Not Who You Think!)
The Fashion Whip is a political style column in the Huffington Post by Lauren Rothman and Christina Wilkie. Rothman is the founder of Styleauteur http://styleauteur.com

WASHINGTON — What does it take to land on The Fashion Whip’s list of the best dressed people in American politics?

Simply put, it’s power dressing — the kind that moves crowds and makes voters and congressional colleagues take a second look. This is a list of politicians who cultivate their power through their public image — and this being politics, it’s always deliberate.

Power dressing in politics is not just about what (or who) you are wearing — it is also about how you communicate your message. Body language, charisma and the ability to carry oneself well factor heavily into the overall look. You have to own it. This list of politicians includes heavyweights with decades of experience in the public eye, as well as a healthy dose of newcomers — all of whom have the political clout to move (and sway) people.

In a place where many of the most powerful roles are occupied by men, freshman Rep. Frederica Wilson’s (D-Fla.) matching cowboy hat and suit ensembles (Wilson reportedly has a room where she keeps more than 80 hats!), and the sharp panache of Rep. Marsha Blackburn (R-Tenn.) exemplify the unique way these women occupy their own political stage. Among the ‘gents, Sen. John Kerry (D-Mass.) and GOP presidential candidate Mitt Romney are high-budget veterans, and the standard they set influences relative newcomers like Reps. Cedric Richmond (D-La.) and Aaron Schock (R-Ill.), who have an impressive collection of designer suits between them.

Click through the slideshow for the trademarks and tactics that shaped and maintained Washington’s reputation for power dressing this year.

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/christina-wilkie/best-dressed-politicians_b_1172131.html?ref=style

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Women Do It Better – article from Barrons

The world is full of illusion. What we generally think the truth is and what is actually happening on the ground is often at odds. Smart investors know how to arbitrage the difference between this fact and perception to make a financial killing. In the world of charitable giving, insights into what is myth and what fact improves the philianthropic industry and makes for a more wholesome society.

Which is why I encourage a look at some myth busting facts emerging from The 2011 Study of High Net Worth Woman’s Philanthropy by The Center on Philanthropy at Indiana University, a report commissioned by Bank of America Merrill Lynch. The 911 men and women in the study had an average net worth of $12.2 million and average annual income of $639,924.

Consider: “Contrary to popular belief that men predominantly control philanthropic dollars within a household, the survey found that in nearly 90% of high net worth individuals, women are either the sole decision-maker or at least an equal partner in charitable decision-making.” (Just 14.6% of the men in couple relationships, and 10.6% of the women, said the couple consciously made “separate decisions” about charitable gifts.) Furthermore, “findings show that single women are more likely to give to charity, and give at a higher level than single men across all charitable subsectors and some income levels.”

Men are from Mars, women are from Venus. The primary motivation (81.7%) for women to give to charitable causes is that they are “moved” by how a gift can “make a difference”; 70.9% of the men needed to be so “moved” before opening their wallets.

Once moved, however, women turn into tough donors. They are far more insistent the organization they are giving to is “efficient” (women 80.5%, men 69.2%), and their gifts somehow “give back to the community” (women 78.2%, men 63.3%). Furthermore, women tend to give more to organizations where they do volunteer work (women 65.7%, men 49.8%), possibly because they have an insider’s view that the organization getting their dollars meets their more stringent criteria.

In fact, women spend much more time kicking the tires and conducting due diligence on charities than do men. “High net worth women (78.4%) are statistically significantly more likely to have a strategy for giving and/or a budget for their giving than men (71.9%).”

Men, those loyal dogs, are in contrast far more likely to “support the same organizations/causes annually” than their female counterparts (men 67.9%, women 59.5%). They are also more inclined to stay the course even when they are going through a tough financial patch. More women than men need to “feel financially secure” before they give (women 77.1%, men 69.5%).

Intriguing stuff. It’s another slice of the apple giving credence to the financially prudent virtues articulated In Praise of Housewife Economics.  But it also confirms a less attractive trait that was detected in the ultra high net worth Chicago study mentioned in The Wealth Disconnect.

For all their expressed concerns about the truly needy – and a few wealthy individuals who distort the overall picture through their outsized generosity – wealthy men and women generally are rather parsimonious about materially helping the indigent with real dollars.

Indiana University figures that the very wealthy of both sexes only give 4.7% of their charitable donations to “organizations that provide food and shelter”. Non-profits that provide “youth or family services” get 8.8%. The biggest recipients are always “foundations, trusts and funds” (22.1%) and “education” (19.3%), reinforcing the view that the wealthy give more to opera houses and their rich alma maters, gifts that benefit other rich folk, than they ever give to those truly in need.

What am I missing here? Is there some sound intellectual reason for this disconnect – such as a profound belief that a handout for food and shelter is a short term fix for which these wealthy donors are looking for longer term solutions – or do the very wealthy really not care about those less fortunate than they are?

Scoundrels exist in all walks of life, of course, but I have to say the narcissistic worldview that consistently emerges from these giving stats does not jive with the wealthy individuals I hang out with. Or maybe I am just kidding myself. Perhaps there is a real difference between the charitable public personas of the very wealthy and what actually happens, in the privacy of their boudoirs, when they actually write their 501 (c) (3) checks.

If any of you can explain this disconnect, or know of some good analytical studies that can help shed light on this anomaly, would love to hear about it. But no need to write in that the wealthy employing workers is a virtue in itself and the best answer to helping those less fortunate – we know that already. What we’re trying to find here is an explanation for a black hole in the philanthropic industry.

Or, failing that, face the cold facts.

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