From Pericalypsis in Stanislaw Lem’s A Perfect Vacuum:
The moderate growth of talent, its innately slow maturation, its careful weeding out, its natural selection in the purview of solicitous and discerning tastes—these are phenomena of a bygone age that died heirless. The last stimulus that still works is a mighty howl; but when more and more people howl, employing more and more powerful amplifiers, one’s eardrums will burst before the soul learns anything. The names of the geniuses of old, more and more vainly invoked, already are an empty sound; and so it is mene mene tekel upharsin, unless what Joachim Fersengeld recommends is done. There should be set up a Save the Human Race Foundation, as a sixteen-billion reserve on a gold standard, yielding an interest of four percent per annum. Out of this fund moneys should be dispensed to all creators—to inventors, scholars, engineers, painters, writers, poets, playwrights, philosophers, and designers—in the following way. He who writes nothing, designs nothing, paints nothing, neither patents nor proposes, is paid a stipend, for life, to the tune of thirty-six thousand dollars a year. He who does any of the aforementioned receives correspondingly less.
I’ve had a similar idea for a philanthropic foundation.