‘Fed Up’ Interview

Phil Harvey Is Fed Up

Phil Harvey has never forgotten the woman in a ragged sari who ran up to him when he was a young CARE staff member in India in the 1960s. She knelt at his feet as he helped deliver powdered milk and cornmeal to a Punjab village devastated by a flood.

Such transactions between wealthy Westerners and aid recipients have always seemed embarrassingly one-sided to him. How, he asks, can charity truly be benevolent if it makes one human being feel compelled to prostrate herself before another?

“The idea just makes my blood boil,” says Mr. Harvey, 76, who helped create three nonprofits and also Adam & Eve, an adult- toy and erotica retailer whose profits finance his charities. “I think a great deal of charity in the United States today tends to follow those lines of gratitude. A great deal of giving tends to be about what makes the giver feel good and not what is actually helping the beneficiary.

“I think it’s wrong, perhaps even to the point of being immoral.”

Download the full interview here (pdf).