July 2, 2008

Leona Helmsley has left $5+ billion dollars to minister to the needs of the dog community.

All that money for dogs? People didn't like her, and apparently, she didn't like people. Or do you think she just loved dogs that much? There must have been many days when she looked at her little dog and thought: Only a dog can love me. Only a dog knows what real love is.
Her instructions, specified in a two-page “mission statement,” are that the entire trust, valued at $5 billion to $8 billion and amounting to virtually all her estate, be used for the care and welfare of dogs, according to two people who have seen the document...

It is by no means clear, however, that all the money will go to dogs. Another provision of the mission statement says Mrs. Helmsley’s trustees may use their discretion in distributing the money, and some lawyers say the statement may not mean much anyway, given that its directions were not incorporated into Mrs. Helmsley’s will or the trust documents.

“The statement is an expression of her wishes that is not necessarily legally binding,” said William Josephson, a lawyer who was the chief of the Charities Bureau in the New York State attorney general’s office from 1999 to 2004.
Will the lawyers and judges be able to wheedle their way out of of this? Will the force of mega-money and sheer public outrage at spending it all on dogs open a loophole where there is none? Read the linked article, and you'll see that the judge has already been "flexible" about the will that left $12 million to Helmsley's dog Trouble. The dog is only getting $2 million!
[L]ongstanding laws favor adherence to a donor’s intent, and the mission statement is the only clear expression of Mrs. Helmsley’s charitable intentions. ...

... Mrs. Helmsley signed it in 2003 to establish goals for the multibillion-dollar trust that would disburse assets after her death.

The first goal was to help indigent people, the second to provide for the care and welfare of dogs. A year later, they said, she deleted the first goal.
What thoughts went through her head as she deleted the goal of helping poor people? What happened that made her snap?

Now, let's assume the trust stays the way it seems she wanted it, and the money must be all spent on the dog community. How to spend it?
There are many ways the trustees could spend the Helmsley money on dogs. National groups like the Humane Society and the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals have programs dedicated to dogs, and many smaller local groups rescue abandoned and abused dogs.
Make sure the cats don't get any of it! Why not stop putting the dogs to death? Build huge dog care centers for all the stray dogs. House their caregivers — luxury style — and pay them well. Now, it's a nice jobs program for the best people — the dog-loving kind.
Or the trustees could use the trust’s money to finance veterinary schools or research on canine diseases.
Found schools of dog medicine. (The cats get nothing! Farm animals? Zoo animals? Wild animals? No money for them!) Very generously fund all the professors of dog medicine at these schools.

You know, being a people doctor isn't so great anymore. So all the best students will want to go to dog medicine school — where tuition is free. Make room and board free too. And make it luxury hotel style.

Found dog hospitals. Provide free care to dogs. Cancer surgery — free. Intensive care units — with the best paid nurses. The hospital food? Hire the best chefs.

Build dog cemeteries. Ornate, grand — have the best sculptors carve marble dog statues for the monuments. And let people walk their dogs in in the cemetery and piss on the monuments all they like. Pay some human beings to clean up after the dogs constantly.

Construct beautiful parks dedicated to dogs on the most expensive city real estate. At the gate, post a sign: No human beings unaccompanied by dogs.

IN THE COMMENTS: Pogo looks for loopholes:
1. The University of Georgia. Go Dawgs!

2. Footwear for the working poor.

3. Plastic surgery for homely girls.

4. A tuition-free Rap school, founded by Snoop.

5. The world's biggest block party, with weiners by Milwaukee's own Usinger's.

6. Fireplace andirons for everybody!

7. Fund the study of parhelions.

34 comments:

Joaquin said...

The world is going to the dogs!
No, seriously, it is HER MONEY and she has the right to do as she pleases. If she wants to spend it on dogs...so be it.

Meade said...

Just give it all to RHHardin. He'll know what to do with it.

rcocean said...

This is a perfect example of why a stiff estate tax is needed for people who make over 100 million dollars.

She did nothing to earn 5-8 billion, and giving the money to dogs expressed her hatred for humanity.

"But it was her money!" Well, no it isn't - she dead now.

Ron said...

(misanthrope+money)*batshit crazy = billions to critters!

If she left billions to veterinary schools she'd probably be doing more for dogs -- among other animals.

MadisonMan said...

I like the idea of funding veterinary study -- maybe not on quite the ornate scale you outline -- but you and I both know that most of this money will end up going to lawyers.

When I walk my dog through Forest Hill cemetery, I always pass a sign that says Dogs not Allowed in this park. It makes me laugh to think of a similar sign in a dog cemetery.

Maguro said...

I, for one, welcome our new dog overlords.

Pogo said...

Possible loopholes:

1. The University of Georgia
Go Dawgs!

2. Footwear for the working poor.

3. Plastic surgery for homely girls.

4. A tuition-free Rap school, founded by Snoop.

5. The world's biggest block party, with weiners by Milwaukee's own Usinger's.

6. Fireplace andirons for everybody!

7. Fund the study of parhelions.

rdkraus said...

Woof, Woof.

Roger J. said...

I prefer dogs to politicians--if Hillary can blow over 100 mil on a failed campaign, Ms. Helmsley can damn sure do what she wants with her money. I hope the Washington State University Vet program gets some of that--they do outstanding work.

Larry J said...

It is by no means clear, however, that all the money will go to dogs.

No, of course all of the money won't go to dogs. As much as possible will be siphoned off by various lawyers, as hinted at by the next statements.

Another provision of the mission statement says Mrs. Helmsley’s trustees may use their discretion in distributing the money, and some lawyers say the statement may not mean much anyway, given that its directions were not incorporated into Mrs. Helmsley’s will or the trust documents.

There are over a million lawyers in America today. They've managed to worm their way into every aspect of society, much to our lament. America has became a nation of, by, and for lawyers. It doesn't matter what the law (written by lawyers) says, all that matters is what you can convince some judge (also a lawyer) to declare.

This is a perfect example of why a stiff estate tax is needed for people who make over 100 million dollars.

This is just another example of greed. She didn't spend the money the way others wanted, so they want to lay claim to the money. It was her money. If she wanted to build the world's most expensive bonfire, she was free to do so.

The fact is that there are already estate tax laws, and there are estate planning lawyers that allow people with money to get around the laws. The estate taxes only fall on the people who fail to act in time by hiring expensive lawyers to help them get around an absurd tax.

Ron said...

Maybe money for space travel to the Dog Star?

An opera based on How Much Is That Doggie In The Window?

Federal Tax Credits for composting deceased dogs?

The Lassie fund for people who get stuck down wells!

Those 'dogs playing poker' paintings will finally get the Vegas tournament they've always wanted!

Public school funding under the "No! Bad! Humans!" fund?

William said...

Homo sapiens has been around for 100,000 years. Dogs have been their companions for over 10,000 years. During this time dogs have been selectively bred to express attentiveness, fidelity, and affection. God knows what human have been bred for...It is sad that in the course of a long life Leona met no person whom she liked better than her dog. However, it does not take a huge leap of imagination to see how this could happen. Probably only a dog could muster much affection for Leona.

William said...

Homo sapiens has been around for 100,000 years. Dogs have been their companions for over 10,000 years. During this time dogs have been selectively bred to express attentiveness, fidelity, and affection. God knows what human have been bred for...It is sad that in the course of a long life Leona met no person whom she liked better than her dog. However, it does not take a huge leap of imagination to see how this could happen. Probably only a dog could muster much affection for Leona.

Pogo said...

Additional loopholes:
7. Research into nonstandard sexual positions

8. Research into nonstandard meats used in cooking styles from southeast asia

9. Snoopy statues, just like in Minneapolis, on every corner of every block in the US

10. A beachfront hotel at Daug, Philippines .

Pogo said...

Actually, Leona's dog never really liked her very much. In the tell-all book Bitch, Helmsley's dog tells a lurid tale of abuse and neglect at the hands of one of the world's wealthiest women. Urinating into Leona's glasses of wine was the chosen revenge.

Best line: "Leashes are for little dogs."

Roger J. said...

Once again, Harry Truman is proved correct.

Ron said...

Maybe a nationalwide network of wifi put into those weathervanes that look like pointing hunting dogs!

Roomba-like pooper scoopers for Manhattan?

Joaquin said...

rcocean said:
This is a perfect example of why a stiff estate tax is needed for people who make over 100 million dollars.

She did nothing to earn 5-8 billion, and giving the money to dogs expressed her hatred for humanity.

"But it was her money!" Well, no it isn't - she dead now.

WOW! That wasn't a knee-jerk reaction was it?
She did nothing to earn the money except run a huge real estate/hotel empire with her husband. That's all.
TAX THE RICH! TAX THE RICH!
How Bolshevistic of you.

Beth said...

It's her money. Even if we taxed it more, there'd still be a big bunch left for her to pass on and this is what she chose to do with it.

Some of it would be useful right now in the Midwest flood area, for dog rescues.

Pastafarian said...

This is one of the most disgusting and disheartening stories I've heard in a long time. This woman has cemented for all time her reputation as a hateful, vile bitch.

Not that I dislike dogs -- but anyone that would frivolously waste a fortune like this on dogs, when there are human beings starving, is themselves less than human.

But I'm not sure what I'd do about it. I certainly wouldn't want the government to be able to come in and just nullify any will; and I don't want a swarm of lawyers to make millions off of her carcass -- I'd rather it go to dogs than lawyers. But maybe the courts could rule that she wasn't in her right mind when she dictated this.

This is a real puzzle. Do any commenters here have a solution that would be acceptable, in terms of both respecting rights of property and one's ability to leave a will, and at the same time preventing such a waste?

Althouse, I wish you'd present a proposed solution here -- I'm sure it would be much better than anything that I'd come up with, and now I'm going to be bothered by this in the back of my mind all day.

Anyone?

Cedarford said...

Joaquin said...
The world is going to the dogs!
No, seriously, it is HER MONEY and she has the right to do as she pleases. If she wants to spend it on dogs...so be it.


Society went from tribal redistributionist to having laws requiring others to respect and protect the private property of others. Not because of some grand libertarian Natural Right Given by God - but because we saw benefit in incentivizing the effort to gain wealth as beneficial to all, and we also from the beginning of prehistory believed that wealth in a few was good as long as society collectively benefited through job creation, voluntary philanthropy, and the idea that on death the wealth would return in whole or in part to the community.

The richest king in the most libertarian rathole or Empire knew his neck was on the line if he tried to insult the masses by giving them nothing in return for his fortune - or seriously thought he could be buried with HIS MONEY and HIS OPULENT PRIVATE PROPERTY and not expect his former subjects to not dig it up for themselves. (Unless he paid off a priesthood to declare his stuff sacred from tampering with).

We respect the inviolability of the wealth and private property of others ONLY as long as we remain convinced the laws and security power we collectively created to incentivize hard work, and to subsequently protect wealthy individuals - serves a greater societal benefit during their lives and after their deaths.

That is the social contract that redistributionists can challenge and make sensible rules against oppressive aristocracies of wealth and property exploiting the masses - but never, even Marxism - able to argue against meritocracy and the tendency of good wealthy or powerful people to redistribute.

Leona Helmsley failed the "social contract" test on several levels.

1. She did not create the Helmsley wealth, she fucked her way into it on her 4th marriage.

2. Unlike the King who was generally good to his henchmen and survivors in life and his Will - Hemsley was a selfish bitch in life and in death. She hurt the Helsley business and name, betrayed the people that had helped Harry Helmsley build his business in life and death.

3. There are acts that a person protected by law and security available to them by the assent of others - become so insulting that the laws and security may be withdrawn by an angered circle of supporters or the masses picking up the pitchforks and ending the abuse inflicted on them.

a. The wealthy and powerful degrading, torturing, and humiliating the weak purely for their amusement. You cannot expect respect when you disrespect others - only fear or a commitment to even the score.

b. Deliberately insulting the poor "let them eat cake", betraying those who worked for them. A lord or pasha or CEO of the bad kind sometimes would call in supporters and serfs to show their power by giving a casket of teasure and a meal of choice food to the undeserving, while the gathered just got scraps or nothing as a reminder of the power of the ruler.
But not many survived such displays as habit.

3. HER MONEY, HER LAND are so only as long as wealthy elites can convince others that a compelling case exists for society to consent it remain so. There are arguments that can be legitimately made that the status quo is right, or that the wealthy or ambitous need even more of the wealth that each citizen is partially responsible for creating out of the roads, electricity, security they provide - and arguments that progressive changes are needed to temper the Elites contempt of the masses and estate taxes jacked up and tax-free philanthropies severely tightened under law to prevent jokes like 5 billion to dogs or mechanisms of perpetuating dynastic power by relatives controlling the foundations that own control the estate businesses in perpetuity.

**************
Larryj - It was her money. If she wanted to build the world's most expensive bonfire, she was free to do so.

Again, you appear to think that riches are gained or created only by the individual, not by the collective contribution of all to build a society to support ambitous and talented people expecting some payback.

There is no "sacred right to property" when it is needed by the general public to benefit all, there is no sacred right to destroy wealth rather than pass it on.

Only what any society terms is in it's best interest.

If Helmsley had said she was going to convert all her 5 billion her screwed-into wealth into burnable
items like art, antiques and diamonds and was going to toss it into a bonfire and make two remaining choice hotels into dog castles - the sensible thing would be for "ambitious" men and cops and crowd members to get together and agree.

Shoot the bitch in the head, then divvy up the wealth gathered up for the bonfire while paying taxes on it, shoo the dogs out of the swank hotels and make one for cops so they could afford to live in a place like Manhattan, leave the other for the staff and family she left nothing for.

dr kill said...

If you people (attorneys, judges, lawyers, government agents and agencies) can break estates such as Stephen Girard's because of activist interpretations of race, I am confident you can do the same based on activist interpretations of species.

For a fee, of course. And for the children, too. Who could forget the children?

I'm sure you all are very proud of yourselves.

Pogo said...

All your estates are belong to us.

chuck b. said...

"apparently, she didn't like people"

then I guess she was a liberal.

LordSomber said...

R.I.P. Uga...

http://onlineathens.com/stories/070208/football_ugaVI.shtml

Trumpit said...

"Pay some human beings to clean up after the dogs constantly."

Can I apply for a piece of Helmsley's estate retroactively for all the crap I've cleaned up in the last 14 years created relentlessly by my 2 old terriers. I think I'm entitled to at least 1 billion of her massive estate for my superhuman efforts.

When the semi-satirical mind of Althouse comes to the fore, she gives Jonathan Swift a run for his money. I would put Althouse in charge of any decedent's estate to make sure her wishes, no matter how strange, are faithfully cared out. Speaking of things needing Ann's helmsmanship (pun!), perhaps she can work her magic on the bloated federal budget. Althouse for VP!!

Dust Bunny Queen said...

but anyone that would frivolously waste a fortune like this on dogs, when there are human beings starving, is themselves less than human.

Humans are capable of helping themselves, dogs aren't.

Seriously. It's her money and if she wanted to have it burned in a big pile and have them throw her withered corpse on it, that is her right.

Dust Bunny Queen said...

There is no "sacred right to property" when it is needed by the general public to benefit all, there is no sacred right to destroy wealth rather than pass it on.

Only what any society terms is in it's best interest.


Wow, that is so communistic of you. If society decided that it needed your home for a shelter for homeless dogs, that would be just fine with you?

Simon said...

Pastafarian said...
"This is a real puzzle. Do any commenters here have a solution that would be acceptable, in terms of both respecting rights of property and one's ability to leave a will, and at the same time preventing such a waste?"

If you mean, does anyone have a solution that appropriately balances the rights to one's own property against preventing people using it for purposes you don't approve of, then yes I do - it's called "let people do what they want with their property." Beware of cementing the principle - even with the best of intentions - that government can tell you when you're too wealthy and strip you of your rights to do what you like past that point.

I don't approve of what she did; I would have left it to cats, myself. But what matters is that it was her property and thus her right to choose.

Cedarford said...

Simon - her property and thus her right

Her "right" did not pre-exist mankind selecting various models of post-tribal society, most of which did not incorporate a "private property right".

Before that, of course, individual wealth, territory owned, access to food, mates, and other resources was no different for humans than other species, limited to what the person or tribe could fight off other people interested in having it for themselves.

Hobbes, Locke and other philosophers considering the rise of civilizations and the "best rules and practices" for those in the past and present formulated "natural rights" - but set limits on how much of each was healthy, and what had to be limited to enable a Ruler to administer and protect, and what was JUST for the ruled.

And how much wealth and power is allowed to be controlled by a few at the expense of the many is what most wars and Revolutions are all about.

Even the Founders started America with the seed wealth of private property of the Crown or the Loyalist lands seized.

At a certain point, most societies rise up and limit the abuses of the likes of Louis XVI's Court, or Czars, Fatcat Monopolies, or the Leona Helmsleys.

rhhardin said...

It's easy to help dogs with all that money, just not the way it will be done, which will certainly have the opposite effect from helping dogs.

Instead put it all towards political actions aimed against the dog-helping organizations, who are the largest inflictors of animal cruelty ever.

Details, if it isn't obvious from the occasional news segment now and then, in Vicki Hearne's Bandit.

There was no dog crisis of any kind in the 1950s. Dogs ``ran loose.'' Kids adopted them. The population distributions of dogs and people were the same as they are today.

All it lacked was helping orginzations, hand-wringers, busybodies and hysterics, to create a public problem, and public problems caused by the fix of the previous public problem, culminating in an income stream to the political owner of the problem, the helping community.

Typical Pit Bull

somebody who hasn't had their dog killed yet put it up. There's always somebody who isn't buying the program.

blake said...

At a certain point, most societies rise up and limit the abuses of the likes of Louis XVI's Court, or Czars, Fatcat Monopolies, or the Leona Helmsleys.

And do something really stupid.

Jacob said...

A tuition-free Rap school, founded by Snoop.
With Dr. Dre as a professor, natch.

tariely said...

электрошокер