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Generosity of Billionaires

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  • Strongly Liberal Democrat
    Democrat
    Pensacola, FL
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    A while back I did a very limited look into the generosity of billionaires. My impression is they donate money in trust, create foundations or otherwise use their fortunes to create legacy incomes for family and friends. Zuckerberg is supposed to give away most of his fortunes during the course of his life. The only thing I can see is Zuckerberg using that information to farm for support or leverage that promise for support. Gates et all gives their money by starting trust organizations or foundations. Warren donates through charities. Basically they all want something for their generosity. I have yet to see any of them writing ten thousand dollar checks addressed to current resident. Haven't seen any homeless encampments carpet bombed with gift cards. Does anybody have any knowledge of random generosity to random recipients? Generosity and charity seems to be concentrated on management of charitable organizations.
  • Strongly Liberal Democrat
    Democrat
    Portland, OR
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    Chet Ruminski Wrote: A while back I did a very limited look into the generosity of billionaires. My impression is they donate money in trust, create foundations or otherwise use their fortunes to create legacy incomes for family and friends. Zuckerberg is supposed to give away most of his fortunes during the course of his life. The only thing I can see is Zuckerberg using that information to farm for support or leverage that promise for support. Gates et all gives their money by starting trust organizations or foundations. Warren donates through charities. Basically they all want something for their generosity. I have yet to see any of them writing ten thousand dollar checks addressed to current resident. Haven't seen any homeless encampments carpet bombed with gift cards. Does anybody have any knowledge of random generosity to random recipients? Generosity and charity seems to be concentrated on management of charitable organizations.

    This seems to be an awfully jaded way of looking at how some billionaires donate their money. Do you honestly expect these guys to go to Target and buy one billion dollars worth of gift cards for homeless people? What good would that do if that homeless person doesn't have a home to take their recently purchased items to? And you may not have seen them writing ten thousand dollar checks to current residents in need, but I guarantee you their billion dollar checks to organizations that do help people help out those current residents in need.

    Let's look at Mark Zuckerberg. He donated over 100 million dollars to the Newark public school system, even though he has no connection to the area. What did he get in return for that donation? Nothing. He's also donated hundreds of millions of dollars towards other philanthropic organizations without fanfare.

    Warren Buffet donates billions of dollars a year to at risk youth, women in need, unemployment programs, and the homeless, among many others.

    And don't even get me started on Bill Gates. He and Melinda donate roughly $2.5 billion a year to various philanthropic organizations and has donated over $30 billion to date. They have donated over $1.5 billion to making sure children get immunized; over $1 billion to the United Negro College Fund; $450 million towards malaria vaccinations; and over $350 million towards polio eradication.

  • Independent
    Ft.myers, FL
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    Jared, I guess you look too much of what is donated, which looks like a lot, but is not. Look at it this way; they pay less taxes than anyone in Europe where these people get taxed at a rate of 70% or more. Due to such tax in Europe you don't have homeless people etc. or you need lots of organizations like here for all kinds of help or bankrupt cities like Detroit. Only Red Cross or Salvation Army are the main organizations there etc. Thus if they gave about 70% of their taxable fortunes away, either in taxes or a combination to needy people, then they would be equal to billionaires who honestly pay their taxes in Europe. So a 100 million donation is peanuts and is tax deductable; they laugh all the way to the bank. Also if you should have noticed this is the begging country of the world, because there is no proper structure to help the lower classes, invalids, mental people, let alone proper infrastructure etc. which is missing here, because the rich get only richer here and their "help" ends up only at organizations of which they like or have control over. Sorry his country is taken for a ride.
  • Liberal Democrat
    Democrat
    Colorado Springs, CO
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    Charitable giving is a part of American society. For the most part, I believe that Americans prefer to have local control over the money that they give, whether through their places of worship or through their employers and United Way programs. Make it a tax and administer it from Washington, and it will be quickly labeled a "big government" intrusion into your life. While the media focus is on the giving of a few billionaires (e.g. the philanthropy of the Koch brothers), it is true that certain segments of society are left out...the homeless especially. Cities just don't like to have homeless people present in tourist areas or business districts so they try to keep them away...out of sight. For those communities that have stepped up and provided homeless shelters, they then become a magnet for even more homeless.

    For a while, the solution tried by my city was to put them on a bus (at local taxpayer expense) and send them to another city of their choosing. That didn't work so well.

    Ultimately it does fall on government (federal, state and local) to provide work and job training programs and shelters to get them off the streets. That is more easily said than done. And in a sinister sort of way, it puts the government in competition with faith based groups who make indoctrination a condition of their benevolence.

  • Liberal Democrat
    Democrat
    Colorado Springs, CO
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    Charitable Giving in America: Some Facts and Figures

    Giving by individuals makes up the vast majority of contributions received by nonprofit organizations. Giving USA 2015 estimates that individual giving amounted to $258.51 billion in 2014, an increase of 7.1 percent in current dollars from 2013. This accounts for 72 percent of all contributions received in 2014.

  • Center Left
    Independent
    Central, FL
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    Last Sunday on 60 minutes they did a story about a group organized by Bill Gates and his wife. To join the club you have to be worth at least 1 billion dollars and also agree to leave at least 50% to the charitable aspects of the group. They have a large number of members from the US and other countries. Many such as Warren Buffet have agreed to leave over 90% of his fortune to be used for charity. The groups combined commitment is at approx. 1/2 a trillion dollars. I think this is fabulous.

    Buffet is giving 99% and the Gates family is giving 95% That's a large percentage of a huge total worth for each.

  • Independent
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    here is some food for thought regarding philanthro-capitalism:

    dissentmagazine.org/article/plutocrats-...

    dissentmagazine.org/blog/economists-can...

    i particularly find intriguing in the second link the idea that economists have "better tools" for figuring out solutions when the FACT is that economists not only don't have better tools they don't understand the problems.

  • Independent
    Ft.myers, FL
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    lonely bird Wrote:

    here is some food for thought regarding philanthro-capitalism:

    dissentmagazine.org/article/plutocrats-...

    dissentmagazine.org/blog/economists-can...

    i particularly find intriguing in the second link the idea that economists have "better tools" for figuring out solutions when the FACT is that economists not only don't have better tools they don't understand the problems.

    Yes, Lonely; most of these rich people seldom know or understand the cause of being "poor" especially in Africa. They have no clue; you can't elevate these people to "western" thinking or "jobs" . They love to live the life they have without interference, as long as they can harvest their own food and have water, goats and a dwelling. To push western civilization down their throat is wrong. Our civilization is not what it should be anyway; look at all the trash in the oceans and our pollution all around us, let alone all our homeless people.
  • Liberal Democrat
    Democrat
    Colorado Springs, CO
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    lonely bird Wrote:

    here is some food for thought regarding philanthro-capitalism:

    dissentmagazine.org/article/plutocrats-...

    dissentmagazine.org/blog/economists-can...

    i particularly find intriguing in the second link the idea that economists have "better tools" for figuring out solutions when the FACT is that economists not only don't have better tools they don't understand the problems.

    Lonely bird -- Both excellent articles in Dissent Magazine. Thanks for sharing them. There is no doubt that philanthropy or “venture philanthropy” or “philanthocapitalism” has become a big business for those corporations and organizations with the financial resources to capitalize on them. Your referenced article by Joanne Barken, Plutocrats at Work: How Big Philanthropy Undermines Democracy, makes many valid points of criticism, but I think the main point of her arguments center on the tax write-offs:

    "To be clear, I’m criticizing both the excessive influence of mega-foundations on public policy and the fact that they are publicly subsidized. In a free society, the super-rich can spend their money in any legal way they want, including endowing huge organizations to try out pet theories and promote personal projects. But those organizations shouldn’t be tax exempt. The super-rich don’t need billions of dollars in tax relief annually to exert their will in the public sphere. They can, and most will, engage in the same activities without the government handout. Although redistributing power more fairly throughout society will require campaign finance reform and rigorous progressive taxation, there’s no reason to continue to subsidize big philanthropy."

    I agree with that point and ditto for mega churches and missionaries who have used their tax free status to engage (illegally) in politics. However, much like the chances of having "campaign finance reform" and "rigorous progressive taxation", Barken's vision is idealistic in our current "la la land" of upside down politics. Even if we were to eliminate all philanthropy by big business, and push a lot of that responsibility back to the federal government, do you believe that our current Congress would be more egalitarian in the way they dish out tax payer funded initiatives. Take a look at the House of Representatives chairman Hal Rogers of the Appropriations Committee (from Wikipedia):

    "Rogers has been widely criticized by both liberal and conservative pundits for his priorities when it comes to national security. National Review referred to Rogers as "a national disgrace" and Rolling Stone named him one of America's "Ten Worst Congressmen", calling him "Bin Laden's Best Friend" due to the fact that Rogers steered federal homeland security money away from large cities to his home district, which critics claim is one of the least likely terrorist targets in America because of its lack of any notable monuments or population centers. In 2007, Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington named Congressman Rogers to its list of the Most Corrupt Members of Congress.

    On May 14, 2006, the New York Times reported that Rogers had used his legislative position as chairman of the House subcommittee that controls the Homeland Security budget to create "jobs in his home district and profits for companies that are donors to his political causes." The Lexington Herald-Leader in 2005 called Rogers the "Prince of Pork". The Times article reported that Rogers had inserted language ("existing government card issuance centers") into appropriations bills that effectively pushed the federal government into testing at a cost of $4 million older, inappropriate technology for a new fraud-resistant green card for permanent legal immigrants, at a production plant in Corbin, Kentucky, within Rogers' district. The study concluded that the smart card approach was far superior. The Times found that about $100,000 in contributions had come to Mr. Rogers from parties with at least some ties to the identification card effort."

    Rogers is not alone. He is just one example of the way Congress works in dishing out pork to home districts.

    The question that I would submit for you to ponder. Who would you trust more, Bill Gates or Hal Rogers, when it comes to deciding who is in need the most and who gets the money?

  • Independent
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    Schmidt Wrote:
    lonely bird Wrote:

    here is some food for thought regarding philanthro-capitalism:

    dissentmagazine.org/article/plutocrats-...

    dissentmagazine.org/blog/economists-can...

    i particularly find intriguing in the second link the idea that economists have "better tools" for figuring out solutions when the FACT is that economists not only don't have better tools they don't understand the problems.

    Lonely bird -- Both excellent articles in Dissent Magazine. Thanks for sharing them. There is no doubt that philanthropy or “venture philanthropy” or “philanthocapitalism” has become a big business for those corporations and organizations with the financial resources to capitalize on them. Your referenced article by Joanne Barken, Plutocrats at Work: How Big Philanthropy Undermines Democracy, makes many valid points of criticism, but I think the main point of her arguments center on the tax write-offs:

    "To be clear, I’m criticizing both the excessive influence of mega-foundations on public policy and the fact that they are publicly subsidized. In a free society, the super-rich can spend their money in any legal way they want, including endowing huge organizations to try out pet theories and promote personal projects. But those organizations shouldn’t be tax exempt. The super-rich don’t need billions of dollars in tax relief annually to exert their will in the public sphere. They can, and most will, engage in the same activities without the government handout. Although redistributing power more fairly throughout society will require campaign finance reform and rigorous progressive taxation, there’s no reason to continue to subsidize big philanthropy."

    I agree with that point and ditto for mega churches and missionaries who have used their tax free status to engage (illegally) in politics. However, much like the chances of having "campaign finance reform" and "rigorous progressive taxation", Barken's vision is idealistic in our current "la la land" of upside down politics. Even if we were to eliminate all philanthropy by big business, and push a lot of that responsibility back to the federal government, do you believe that our current Congress would be more egalitarian in the way they dish out tax payer funded initiatives. Take a look at the House of Representatives chairman Hal Rogers of the Appropriations Committee (from Wikipedia):

    "Rogers has been widely criticized by both liberal and conservative pundits for his priorities when it comes to national security. National Review referred to Rogers as "a national disgrace" and Rolling Stone named him one of America's "Ten Worst Congressmen", calling him "Bin Laden's Best Friend" due to the fact that Rogers steered federal homeland security money away from large cities to his home district, which critics claim is one of the least likely terrorist targets in America because of its lack of any notable monuments or population centers. In 2007, Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington named Congressman Rogers to its list of the Most Corrupt Members of Congress.

    On May 14, 2006, the New York Times reported that Rogers had used his legislative position as chairman of the House subcommittee that controls the Homeland Security budget to create "jobs in his home district and profits for companies that are donors to his political causes." The Lexington Herald-Leader in 2005 called Rogers the "Prince of Pork". The Times article reported that Rogers had inserted language ("existing government card issuance centers") into appropriations bills that effectively pushed the federal government into testing at a cost of $4 million older, inappropriate technology for a new fraud-resistant green card for permanent legal immigrants, at a production plant in Corbin, Kentucky, within Rogers' district. The study concluded that the smart card approach was far superior. The Times found that about $100,000 in contributions had come to Mr. Rogers from parties with at least some ties to the identification card effort."

    Rogers is not alone. He is just one example of the way Congress works in dishing out pork to home districts.

    The question that I would submit for you to ponder. Who would you trust more, Bill Gates or Hal Rogers, when it comes to deciding who is in need the most and who gets the money?

    Easy answer. Neither. i have grown enormously tired of claims that success in one field translates into success in another. As for the politician that is something else. I have seen good and bad politicians. I would prefer people that spend their lives trying to understand social and cultural issues deal with those as opposed to a guy who makes a billion bucks thinking he is suddenly a polymath. On top of that the monies required to deal with these issues on a structural level are far in excess of what these guys have.
  • Liberal Democrat
    Democrat
    Colorado Springs, CO
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    So let me pose the question a different way. Would you prefer that Bill Gates engages in no philanthropy. Nada. Zero. He keeps all his money to himself?
  • Strongly Liberal Democrat
    Democrat
    Portland, OR
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    Schmidt Wrote: So let me pose the question a different way. Would you prefer that Bill Gates engages in no philanthropy. Nada. Zero. He keeps all his money to himself?

    That's a wonderful question. I know my answer.

    I think we have to separate billionaires by "makers" and "takers." Bill Gates is a maker. He was born into a middle-class family and had a vision. He then used that vision to build the worlds largest software company.

    Bernie Madoff is a taker. He developed a pyramid scheme and stole billions of dollars from unsuspecting Americans.

    It's fine to be jealous of Bill Gates because he is so rich, but I get so frustrated when people think he is the same type of person as Bernie Madoff or other Wall Street titans. He has promised to give away much of his fortune to philanthropic causes both here in the United States and throughout the world. I honestly don't understand why that is so controversial to anyone.

  • Independent
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    the answer is how. his business acumen means little to nothing in dealing with social problems. as an example his foundation is big on the "market " bullshit of "reforming" education. instead of looking at the market which consistently screws up and does not function in the manner the economic theologians prophesy how about looking at what other countries do that seem to do better from an education standpoint than we do?
  • Liberal Democrat
    Democrat
    Colorado Springs, CO
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    Educational Grants by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation

    This list is from 2012. Perhaps someone has a more update to date list. No natter. I browsed the list and couldn't find anything sinister in it...something that would be called bullshit of "reforming" education, but maybe I'm missing something. The grants support education and I would not call any of them "bullshit".

  • Strongly Liberal Democrat
    Democrat
    Pensacola, FL
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    Not knowing a thing about the internals of the philantopic institutions of the .001 I will bet that the amount of money spent on the internal operation is a significant part of the money brandished as a gift. I did some research on the organizations that get a tax credit for donators. Donating cars and boats etc and getting a tax credit. The operational model is that the organization gets a donated vehicle. They upgrade the vehicle , sell it, take their operational expenses and charitize the net. The overview is they are operating used car lots, get vehicles for free, sell the vehicles , take their salary & expenses, donate the net to be a non profit. Their is no cap on salaries or expenditures of non profits. They can eat up most of the value of the donated gift. In the system we live in I find it hard to imagine any charity being any different. Take the school system gift mentioned. I guarantee there is not stipulation that already existing funding cannot be diverted. I can cynically guess that that the benefactor benifitted from the diversion of existing funds freed by the charitable gift. jaredsxtn, you can give homeless people gif cards.