What makes David Rubenstein tick?

Over the last few years, David Rubenstein’s public profile has grown quite a bit thanks to his huge philanthropic investments. Capital Business has a great story that pulls back the curtain on the billionaire as he reflects on his goals, priorities, and decision making process. As the article points out, Rubenstein’s giving is quite different than that of his colleague, Bill Conway.

Whereas Conway is aiming at the challenges of education and homelessness, Rubenstein’s philanthropy is largely centered around historical preservation. It’s no coincidence that this profile appears Fourth of July week, because Rubenstein’s motivations are uniquely American (WaPo, 7/1):

I live in Washington. I met my wife in Washington. I raised my kids in Washington. I’m an American. And when you get to be fortunate, you should give back to people. And I’m giving back … because my country enabled me to do this. If you grew up anyplace else and your last name is Rubenstein and you came from a very modest background, you probably wouldn’t have had the chance to rise up. Here, I’ve had the chance to rise up and get to be wealthier than I ever dreamed possible.

I think that the article’s author, Thomas Heath, deserves a special shout out. He does an excellent job of profiling Rubenstein, but he also takes the time to explain philanthropy in an accessible way – even exploring its etymology.

PHILANTHROPY | Despite the recovering(ish) economy, foundation employees reported a slower growth rate for raises in 2012 than in both 2011 and 2010. According to the Council on Foundation’s annual salary survey, the median salary for an employee at a grantmaking organization is $72,000. (Chronicle, 7/1)

– DCPS Chancellor Kaya Henderson has announced a huge overhaul to the city’s handling of low-performing ninth graders. Under the new approach, repeat ninth graders will be separated from the “impressionable incoming freshmen” in an effort to “insulate” the new high schoolers. The school system hasn’t yet decided how to handle the second and third-time ninth graders, which is raising some flags among education advocates. (WaPo, 7/1)

– In Montgomery County, officials are worrying about the high rate of final exam failure. (WaPo, 7/1)

– According to the Federal Reserve Bank of New York, a whopping 44% of recent college graduates are underemployed, which the Atlantic explains means that they have jobs that don’t require a college degree. This is opening up conversations about the value of a college degree. (Atlantic, 7/1) We recently had a meeting about how community colleges are becoming an important alternative to traditional colleges.

– This all ties into a conversation about the cost of a college degree. According to USA Today, 65% of graduates have student loan debt, up from 46% two decades ago. The average debt is $27,547 – nearly double the amount from 1993. (USA Today, 7/1)

– And things are about to get worse. Congress and President Obama were hoping to strike a deal on the Stafford student loan interest rate. But they went on vacation instead, so the clock expired and the rate has jumped from 3.4% to 6.8%. (WaPo, 7/1)

– On a similar subject, sequestration hasn’t hit us quite as hard as predicted…yet. Things are changing as furloughed workers cut back on spending. (WAMU, 7/1)

– If the District implements “super minimum wage” legislation, it is unclear whether Wal-Mart will follow through on its plans to expand into the region. (WBJ, 7/1)

POVERTY | Opinion: Poverty in America: Half-Forgotten or Totally Forgotten? by David Coates (HuffPo, 6/30) Coates takes both political parties to task and uses a refreshingly bitter phrase: “the obscenity of poverty and income inequality.”

TRANSIT | A Washington Post poll finds that the majority of respondents still have a favorable view of Metro. It’s unclear whether this majority lives in our region or a remote part of Alaska.

On the other hand, the Post’s Fred Hiatt writes about the editorial board’s recent meeting with Metro head Richard Sarles. Hiatt is not a member of the poll’s majority. Of particular note, he discusses the ways in which Metro station managers are selected, thanks to an absurd collective bargaining agreement. (WaPo, 7/1)

The website Lifehacker usually has cool tricks and great advice. Today, they have a list of 10 conversation starters to break the ice and make a good first impression. Judge for yourself whether these will work, but I asked their suggested question, “Does this shop always have such long lines?” I was quickly informed that the National Mall isn’t a shop and that there were no long lines anywhere near me. Thanks a lot, Lifehacker.

Also, I was listening to the soundtrack from Crazy Heart, which is as great as the movie itself. One of the many highlights is Townes Van Zandt’s If I Needed You.