The Problem With [Philanthropy]

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  • jungleroomxjungleroomx Panem, circenses, credulous descent. A Gadarene charge into endarkenment Registered User regular
    Paladin wrote: »
    Paladin wrote: »
    Heffling wrote: »
    Philanthropy is direct governance by the wealthy. They are taking on the role of provider and protector that the government should be supplying.

    And, at least in the US, they are able to do so in part because of how little they pay in taxes. And they get tax write-offs for their philanthropy, meaning our government encourages this behavior.

    Our government encourages philanthropy, yes. Would it be better if the government did not encourage philanthropy?

    Yes.

    Because it doesn't really work.

    Especially compared to actual regulated, transparent, and overseen government programs.

    Is the advocacy here for removing all charitable tax exemptions a consensus?

    I would say at the very least, removed from donating the money to organizations you own.

    Like our President does.

    Make. Time.
    JuliusKayne Red Robe
  • tynictynic PICNIC BADASS Registered User, ClubPA regular
    Feral wrote: »
    Sure, buying lunch for somebody is not necessarily exerting power over them...

    ...unless they're starving and I'm the only person offering free food in town.

    (The analogy works a lot better if we use a good that suffers from more scarcity, like housing.)

    A closer equivalent would be cashless welfare cards, or telling someone asking for money that you won't give them money but you will buy them lunch. In the latter case, does that impulse come from a nice place? sure, almost always. But maybe they don't need lunch, maybe they need tampons or any other number of life necessities that they don't feel like getting into a discussion about. It's exercising power by substituting their judgement with your own, and while I think in most cases people buying lunches for other people are providing a net benefit, it would be naive to pretend that this is always a neutral activity.

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  • Jebus314Jebus314 Registered User regular
    Paladin wrote: »
    Heffling wrote: »
    Philanthropy is direct governance by the wealthy. They are taking on the role of provider and protector that the government should be supplying.

    And, at least in the US, they are able to do so in part because of how little they pay in taxes. And they get tax write-offs for their philanthropy, meaning our government encourages this behavior.

    Our government encourages philanthropy, yes. Would it be better if the government did not encourage philanthropy?

    Yes.

    Because it doesn't really work.

    Especially compared to actual regulated, transparent, and overseen government programs.

    These don't seem to be mutually exclusive activities though. You can simultaneously hold that the government should be doing more for the social safety net and that billionaires should be encouraged to give money away (even if it is only to people they want to, not to everyone).

    "The world is a mess, and I just need to rule it" - Dr Horrible
    Elvenshae
  • Jebus314Jebus314 Registered User regular
    Feral wrote: »
    Sure, buying lunch for somebody is not necessarily exerting power over them...

    ...unless they're starving and I'm the only person offering free food in town.

    (The analogy works a lot better if we use a good that suffers from more scarcity, like housing.)

    The central tenet here though, is that if not for philanthropy the need would not be filled. Why would that be a mark against philanthropy? Because they aren't providing for everyone they shouldn't provide for anyone? That doesn't seem to be good or necessary outcome to me.

    "The world is a mess, and I just need to rule it" - Dr Horrible
  • jungleroomxjungleroomx Panem, circenses, credulous descent. A Gadarene charge into endarkenment Registered User regular
    Jebus314 wrote: »
    Paladin wrote: »
    Heffling wrote: »
    Philanthropy is direct governance by the wealthy. They are taking on the role of provider and protector that the government should be supplying.

    And, at least in the US, they are able to do so in part because of how little they pay in taxes. And they get tax write-offs for their philanthropy, meaning our government encourages this behavior.

    Our government encourages philanthropy, yes. Would it be better if the government did not encourage philanthropy?

    Yes.

    Because it doesn't really work.

    Especially compared to actual regulated, transparent, and overseen government programs.

    These don't seem to be mutually exclusive activities though. You can simultaneously hold that the government should be doing more for the social safety net and that billionaires should be encouraged to give money away (even if it is only to people they want to, not to everyone).

    There's also the idea that if we were properly running our social safety nets, and people were getting paid their actual worth, we wouldn't have as many billionaires to begin with.

    Because they exist via the exploitation of labor.

    Make. Time.
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  • JuliusJulius Registered User regular
    MrMister wrote: »
    But if you think of it as rightfully theirs, then it’s harder to say why they shouldn’t get to decide what it’s spent on, even if that has implications for others—presumably, most philanthropy isn’t actively net negative for society, so in giving at all it’s still better than an available alternative to which the billionaire is entitled, namely sitting on it.

    Maybe it depends on what one means by "rightfully theirs", but it seems to me that morality would dictate what you do with your money regardless. that is, sitting on the money is wrong regardless of whether you have earned that money in the first place. The only way I can see it mattering is in allowing a person to choose between ways to use their money that are morally equivalent, which philantropy and sitting on it obviously aren't.

    assuming most philantropy is a net positive for the moment, there is clearly a large variation in how positive different acts are. funding sustainable farming initiatives in developing countries, or giving everyone a tenner for that matter, is clearly superior to donating a new library named after you to Harvard. It may well be true that you've earned those billions, but that doesn't mean you shouldn't do the former instead of the latter.

  • PaladinPaladin Registered User regular
    Paladin wrote: »
    Paladin wrote: »
    Heffling wrote: »
    Philanthropy is direct governance by the wealthy. They are taking on the role of provider and protector that the government should be supplying.

    And, at least in the US, they are able to do so in part because of how little they pay in taxes. And they get tax write-offs for their philanthropy, meaning our government encourages this behavior.

    Our government encourages philanthropy, yes. Would it be better if the government did not encourage philanthropy?

    Yes.

    Because it doesn't really work.

    Especially compared to actual regulated, transparent, and overseen government programs.

    Is the advocacy here for removing all charitable tax exemptions a consensus?

    I would say at the very least, removed from donating the money to organizations you own.

    Like our President does.

    That's basically fraud.

    I'm not for or against the idea, but I would like to know if it would actually have the intended effect, so I can prepare for the case where it doesn't. I can imagine individual cases where due to foreign policy concerns or government distrust by the target group, a government middleman would fail where a private middleman would succeed. However, that is not looking at the bigger picture.

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  • PhillisherePhillishere Registered User regular
    Philanthropy allows the wealthy to override professionals in order to gain a decision-making role in areas like academia and public health solely due to their money. When the wealthy donors aren't total idiots, you get institutions like the Bill Gates Foundation, which does good work. When the donors are someone else, you get things like MIT allowing Jeffery Epstein to direct research efforts and get fawning audiences with researchers in exchange for secret donations.

    The more common situation is that institutions chase wealthy individual donors because that allows the leaders of those institutions to justify holding black tie galas, buying gourmet food and top-shelf liquor for events, and otherwise enjoying the luxuries of wealth themselves while justifying it as a necessary cost of fundraising, since you have to make the donors feel comfortable and appreciated.

    At best, this comes with a healthy check to pay for worthwhile causes. At worst, it allows leaders of non-profits or universities to steer more and more efforts toward fundraising, with making donors happy becoming more important than the original mission.

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  • spool32spool32 Contrary Library Registered User regular
    so are we going to argue in this thread that all philanthropy is definitely an exercise in power, and that no ethical billionaire can exist, and that we should absolutely seize the means of production from every owner in order to destroy all charitable giving while replacing it with perfect and beautiful government-run programs?

    Is that what this thread is for?

    ElvenshaeAridholSanguinius666264
  • Jebus314Jebus314 Registered User regular
    Jebus314 wrote: »
    Paladin wrote: »
    Heffling wrote: »
    Philanthropy is direct governance by the wealthy. They are taking on the role of provider and protector that the government should be supplying.

    And, at least in the US, they are able to do so in part because of how little they pay in taxes. And they get tax write-offs for their philanthropy, meaning our government encourages this behavior.

    Our government encourages philanthropy, yes. Would it be better if the government did not encourage philanthropy?

    Yes.

    Because it doesn't really work.

    Especially compared to actual regulated, transparent, and overseen government programs.

    These don't seem to be mutually exclusive activities though. You can simultaneously hold that the government should be doing more for the social safety net and that billionaires should be encouraged to give money away (even if it is only to people they want to, not to everyone).

    There's also the idea that if we were properly running our social safety nets, and people were getting paid their actual worth, we wouldn't have as many billionaires to begin with.

    Because they exist via the exploitation of labor.

    Sure. But again, that isn't really a mark against philanthropy. Unless you're arguing that everyone should have exactly the same amount of money at all times, then some will always have more than others. At which point I see no issue with incentivizing those with money to give to whatever causes they want to support (with some exceptions for obvious net social negatives like hate groups or something).

    "The world is a mess, and I just need to rule it" - Dr Horrible
  • QuidQuid I don't... what... hnnng Registered User regular
    Oh am very content with the notion that no one should "rightfully" have a billion dollars. It's an amount of wealth so large at that point you can supply your life with anything you could possibly want several times over.

    Nothing about the the work Bill Gates did was dependent on him making even more billions of dollars.

    Now, according to U.S. law he's wholly within his rights to do so. And it's dumb.

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  • PaladinPaladin Registered User regular
    spool32 wrote: »
    so are we going to argue in this thread that all philanthropy is definitely an exercise in power, and that no ethical billionaire can exist, and that we should absolutely seize the means of production from every owner in order to destroy all charitable giving while replacing it with perfect and beautiful government-run programs?

    Is that what this thread is for?

    It's certainly an experiment. As a person who knows a thing or two about government grants, I'd be comfortable in such a system at its current level of accountability.

    Marty: The future, it's where you're going?
    Doc: That's right, twenty five years into the future. I've always dreamed on seeing the future, looking beyond my years, seeing the progress of mankind. I'll also be able to see who wins the next twenty-five world series.
  • spool32spool32 Contrary Library Registered User regular
    Heffling wrote: »
    spool32 wrote: »
    I wasn't talking about philanthropy, I was talking about Microsoft drinking IBM's milkshake and ushering in the era of personal computing. Gates was instrumental and Microsoft continues to sit at the core of modern computing worldwide. Their work as a company has created entire new professions!

    I'd be a lot poorer 1995-2019 if Outlook hadn't sucked in every release since the first one, is what I'm saying :)

    Bill Gates invented my career. Far more wealth has been added to the global economy as a result of Microsoft's work than he has personally collected.

    Bill Gates didn't invent your career as a programmer. He's a guy from a rich white family that happened to work on technology and got lucky. In that regard, he's no different than Zuckerberg or any other Silicon Valley billionaires.

    And every billionaire has become a billionaire at the cost of the rest of humanity.

    And if you want to give him credit for your career, give him credit for being the person that people like Zuckerberg or Bezos modeled themselves after.

    I'm not a programmer, I started selling software like Windows 95 and building personal computers, worked help desk, moved up through the IT infrastructure ranks. With no Microsoft, I would never have had this career. In a very real way, Bill Gates invented in my industry.

  • Jebus314Jebus314 Registered User regular
    edited November 2019
    Philanthropy allows the wealthy to override professionals in order to gain a decision-making role in areas like academia and public health solely due to their money. When the wealthy donors aren't total idiots, you get institutions like the Bill Gates Foundation, which does good work. When the donors are someone else, you get things like MIT allowing Jeffery Epstein to direct research efforts and get fawning audiences with researchers in exchange for secret donations.

    The more common situation is that institutions chase wealthy individual donors because that allows the leaders of those institutions to justify holding black tie galas, buying gourmet food and top-shelf liquor for events, and otherwise enjoying the luxuries of wealth themselves while justifying it as a necessary cost of fundraising, since you have to make the donors feel comfortable and appreciated.

    At best, this comes with a healthy check to pay for worthwhile causes. At worst, it allows leaders of non-profits or universities to steer more and more efforts toward fundraising, with making donors happy becoming more important than the original mission.

    I feel confident that no one here is arguing that philanthropy should be regulation free, or that there are no bad types of philanthropy. I could be wrong, but for me at least, there should be a fair amount of regulation here.

    I would just push back against the idea that all philanthropy is inherently bad because the source of the funding is a private citizen rather than an elected official (with all the looser regulations that that entails).

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  • Jebus314Jebus314 Registered User regular
    Quid wrote: »
    Oh am very content with the notion that no one should "rightfully" have a billion dollars. It's an amount of wealth so large at that point you can supply your life with anything you could possibly want several times over.

    Nothing about the the work Bill Gates did was dependent on him making even more billions of dollars.

    Now, according to U.S. law he's wholly within his rights to do so. And it's dumb.

    I think it would be difficult to define some sort of hard cap for earnings, but I agree with the philosophy behind the idea of the diminishing value of increased wealth, which suggests we should be taxing so heavily at the very highest end that it becomes functionally impossible to reach bill gates level of wealth.

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  • DarkPrimusDarkPrimus premium Registered User regular
    edited November 2019



    Now, this is just some random person I saw on Twitter, but it's simple math and I don't disagree with what they're saying. After a certain point, no one actually needs that much money, and despite propaganda to the contrary, they don't do as much good with it as if it were taken from them and put towards the public good by the government.

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  • jungleroomxjungleroomx Panem, circenses, credulous descent. A Gadarene charge into endarkenment Registered User regular
    edited November 2019
    spool32 wrote: »
    so are we going to argue in this thread that all philanthropy is definitely an exercise in power, and that no ethical billionaire can exist, and that we should absolutely seize the means of production from every owner in order to destroy all charitable giving while replacing it with perfect and beautiful government-run programs?

    Is that what this thread is for?

    I would say the likelihood of an ethical billionaire, while not impossible, is far lower than an ethical middle class citizen, yes. And I would further say that relying on their charity as opposed to taxing them fairly is foolish.

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  • PhillisherePhillishere Registered User regular
    Jebus314 wrote: »
    Philanthropy allows the wealthy to override professionals in order to gain a decision-making role in areas like academia and public health solely due to their money. When the wealthy donors aren't total idiots, you get institutions like the Bill Gates Foundation, which does good work. When the donors are someone else, you get things like MIT allowing Jeffery Epstein to direct research efforts and get fawning audiences with researchers in exchange for secret donations.

    The more common situation is that institutions chase wealthy individual donors because that allows the leaders of those institutions to justify holding black tie galas, buying gourmet food and top-shelf liquor for events, and otherwise enjoying the luxuries of wealth themselves while justifying it as a necessary cost of fundraising, since you have to make the donors feel comfortable and appreciated.

    At best, this comes with a healthy check to pay for worthwhile causes. At worst, it allows leaders of non-profits or universities to steer more and more efforts toward fundraising, with making donors happy becoming more important than the original mission.

    I feel confident that no one here is arguing that philanthropy should be regulation free, or that there are no bad types of philanthropy. I could be wrong, but for me at least, there should be a fair amount of regulation here.

    I would just push back against the idea that all philanthropy is inherently bad because the source of the funding is a private citizen rather than an elected official (with all the looser regulations that that entails).

    The entire point of philanthropy is that the wealthy get recognition and, with greater contributions, decision making power over institutions where they'd otherwise have no role. Regulating that exchange just encourages them to do something else with their money. Nothing I've said is illegal or unusual - it's how philanthropy works at every institution in America.

    Highly regulated philanthropy is just taxation. That's the best case scenario - highly funded, professionally run public and private organizations funded by tax dollars and grants provided by peer-reviewed oversight.

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  • Jebus314Jebus314 Registered User regular
    DarkPrimus wrote: »



    Now, this is just some random person I saw on Twitter, but it's simple math and I don't disagree with what they're saying. After a certain point, no one actually needs that much money, and despite propaganda to the contrary, they don't do as much good with it as if it were taken from them and put towards the public good by the government.

    I definitely agree with this, but I don't think that is enough of a reason to say that wealthy shouldn't be allowed to be philanthropic. And again, this is a wholistic argument, because I think everyone in here is probably in agreement that the inequality levels of america are too high, and that philanthropy isn't a reason not to tax the rich more.
    Jebus314 wrote: »
    Philanthropy allows the wealthy to override professionals in order to gain a decision-making role in areas like academia and public health solely due to their money. When the wealthy donors aren't total idiots, you get institutions like the Bill Gates Foundation, which does good work. When the donors are someone else, you get things like MIT allowing Jeffery Epstein to direct research efforts and get fawning audiences with researchers in exchange for secret donations.

    The more common situation is that institutions chase wealthy individual donors because that allows the leaders of those institutions to justify holding black tie galas, buying gourmet food and top-shelf liquor for events, and otherwise enjoying the luxuries of wealth themselves while justifying it as a necessary cost of fundraising, since you have to make the donors feel comfortable and appreciated.

    At best, this comes with a healthy check to pay for worthwhile causes. At worst, it allows leaders of non-profits or universities to steer more and more efforts toward fundraising, with making donors happy becoming more important than the original mission.

    I feel confident that no one here is arguing that philanthropy should be regulation free, or that there are no bad types of philanthropy. I could be wrong, but for me at least, there should be a fair amount of regulation here.

    I would just push back against the idea that all philanthropy is inherently bad because the source of the funding is a private citizen rather than an elected official (with all the looser regulations that that entails).

    The entire point of philanthropy is that the wealthy get recognition and, with greater contributions, decision making power over institutions where they'd otherwise have no role. Regulating that exchange just encourages them to do something else with their money. Nothing I've said is illegal or unusual - it's how philanthropy works at every institution in America.

    Highly regulated philanthropy is just taxation. That's the best case scenario - highly funded, professionally run public and private organizations funded by tax dollars and grants provided by peer-reviewed oversight.

    I do not agree with this. The granularity in deciding how my money is spent is so much higher if I am donating than if I am taxed. There is no level of regulation that will bridge that gap, ever.

    "The world is a mess, and I just need to rule it" - Dr Horrible
  • BurnageBurnage Registered User regular
    I think all philanthropy is an exercise in power, but I don't see that as necessarily a bad thing. When I donate whatever paltry sum I can to a mental health charity, I'm exercising some limited amount of power based upon my income and place in the world. It's fine that the wealthy can donate relatively more than the average individual.

    What isn't fine is just how absurd the differential is between the wealthy and not-wealthy right now. Setting taxation so that billionaires just do not exist wouldn't kill philanthropy, but it might cut down on the ability for individuals to single-handledly determine the actions of entire sectors.

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  • ElendilElendil Registered User regular
    if a billionaire was ethical, they would stop being a billionaire. it's tautological. if you have that much money, you exploited to get it, and you're depriving others to keep it.

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  • dispatch.odispatch.o Registered User regular
    The processes through which you gain your dragon horde of gold and the inequalities that are required to exist that allow a 20 year old to "make" millions of dollars then roll that into 4 decades of fighting to keep their finger on the scales are not undone by being charitable in your 60s.

    Maybe pay wages and taxes along the way?

    I'm all for charitable contributions to society. I'm especially moved by watching people like Jimmy Carter devoting time and energy to do good.

    Pretending it's some sort of careful challenge to distribute the money you've ruined lives accumulating is backwards as fuck. Pay the taxes you should have been paying.

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  • JuliusJulius Registered User regular
    Feral wrote: »
    Gates Foundation is a poor example of this, IMO. Most of their spending is on health-based initiatives in developing countries, including vaccinations, malaria control, HIV testing, and clean water. I doubt anybody here opposes those goals, and those initiatives are leaders in efficiency and efficacy.

    We can argue about, for example, the Gates Foundation support for charter schools. But even if we accept as a premise that charter schools are actively harmful, Gates Foundation still spends roughly four times as much money on tuberculosis, malaria, and HIV as they do on charter schools each year. Meanwhile, their educational initiatives and their healthcare initiatives are accounted for separately, and they don't lord over the recipients of their healthcare money with ideological purity tests (in the way that, for example, a faith-based organization might withhold money from a struggling community clinic unless that clinic promises that they won't mention abortion).

    There is plenty of criticism of the Gates foundation's healthcare initiatives

    The main arguments are that the foundation focuses on innovation and technological solutions rather than addressing systemic issues, and focuses on single diseases that may not reflect the actual health care needs of communities. The Gates Foundation is guided by an ideological commitment to neoliberal policies and views which ends up benefiting global corporations at the expense of people. Prima facie, funding the development of a new drug seems undeniably a positive, but it ultimately means that some pharmaceutical company is going to turn a hefty profit selling it to those who need it.

    They don't engage in obvious ideological purity tests like you mention. But their choices in what they fund and how they fund it are no less ideological than those of the salvation army.

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  • Jebus314Jebus314 Registered User regular
    Burnage wrote: »
    I think all philanthropy is an exercise in power, but I don't see that as necessarily a bad thing. When I donate whatever paltry sum I can to a mental health charity, I'm exercising some limited amount of power based upon my income and place in the world. It's fine that the wealthy can donate relatively more than the average individual.

    What isn't fine is just how absurd the differential is between the wealthy and not-wealthy right now. Setting taxation so that billionaires just do not exist wouldn't kill philanthropy, but it might cut down on the ability for individuals to single-handledly determine the actions of entire sectors.

    Even in that new world of better wealth equality I still think there needs to be good regulation on philanthropy though. Organizations, like religious organizations, can still raise tremendous amounts of money and wield a lot of power. At the very least that should have to come with a lot of transparency in how exactly that power is being wielded.

    "The world is a mess, and I just need to rule it" - Dr Horrible
  • Stabbity StyleStabbity Style Warning: Mothership Reporting Kennewick, WARegistered User regular
    spool32 wrote: »
    so are we going to argue in this thread that all philanthropy is definitely an exercise in power, and that no ethical billionaire can exist, and that we should absolutely seize the means of production from every owner in order to destroy all charitable giving while replacing it with perfect and beautiful government-run programs?

    Is that what this thread is for?

    Yes?

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  • Jebus314Jebus314 Registered User regular
    spool32 wrote: »
    so are we going to argue in this thread that all philanthropy is definitely an exercise in power, and that no ethical billionaire can exist, and that we should absolutely seize the means of production from every owner in order to destroy all charitable giving while replacing it with perfect and beautiful government-run programs?

    Is that what this thread is for?

    I would say the likelihood of an ethical billionaire, while not impossible, is far lower than an ethical middle class citizen, yes. And I would further say that relying on their charity as opposed to taxing them fairly is foolish.

    I don't think your second point is supported by either the OP or any of spool's posts. No one is suggesting that philanthropy is a replacement for taxation. But the OP seems to be taking the position that philanthropy is inherently bad, and I definitely don't agree with that, regardless of the ethical nature of the philanthropist.

    "The world is a mess, and I just need to rule it" - Dr Horrible
  • Jebus314Jebus314 Registered User regular
    edited November 2019
    Elendil wrote: »
    if a billionaire was ethical, they would stop being a billionaire. it's tautological. if you have that much money, you exploited to get it, and you're depriving others to keep it.

    Disagree. Take pro sports players as an example. Below are two unassailable facts:

    1. Having lebron james on a basketball team will yield billions of dollars more in revenue for that team.
    2. Lebron james does not get to unilaterally control tax levels.

    How then is it unethical for lebron james to collect his fair share of the revenue generated by doing his job? Why is it suddenly entirely his fault that tax levels, which are set by a representative democracy, leave him with hundreds of millions, to billions of dollars? Why would it even be more his fault than anyone else who voted for a senator who always tries to cut tax levels?

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  • Gnome-InterruptusGnome-Interruptus Registered User regular
    spool32 wrote: »
    Heffling wrote: »
    spool32 wrote: »
    I wasn't talking about philanthropy, I was talking about Microsoft drinking IBM's milkshake and ushering in the era of personal computing. Gates was instrumental and Microsoft continues to sit at the core of modern computing worldwide. Their work as a company has created entire new professions!

    I'd be a lot poorer 1995-2019 if Outlook hadn't sucked in every release since the first one, is what I'm saying :)

    Bill Gates invented my career. Far more wealth has been added to the global economy as a result of Microsoft's work than he has personally collected.

    Bill Gates didn't invent your career as a programmer. He's a guy from a rich white family that happened to work on technology and got lucky. In that regard, he's no different than Zuckerberg or any other Silicon Valley billionaires.

    And every billionaire has become a billionaire at the cost of the rest of humanity.

    And if you want to give him credit for your career, give him credit for being the person that people like Zuckerberg or Bezos modeled themselves after.

    I'm not a programmer, I started selling software like Windows 95 and building personal computers, worked help desk, moved up through the IT infrastructure ranks. With no Microsoft, I would never have had this career. In a very real way, Bill Gates invented in my industry.

    He most certainly did not invent the industry. He bought a GUI from Xerox/Canon and then developed it as an OS for computers instead of just printers.

    Apple also developed a parallel OS.

    The industry would have developed without Bill Gates, it just wouldn't be called Microsoft and Windows.

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  • PhyphorPhyphor Building Planet Busters Tasting FruitRegistered User regular
    Julius wrote: »
    Feral wrote: »
    Gates Foundation is a poor example of this, IMO. Most of their spending is on health-based initiatives in developing countries, including vaccinations, malaria control, HIV testing, and clean water. I doubt anybody here opposes those goals, and those initiatives are leaders in efficiency and efficacy.

    We can argue about, for example, the Gates Foundation support for charter schools. But even if we accept as a premise that charter schools are actively harmful, Gates Foundation still spends roughly four times as much money on tuberculosis, malaria, and HIV as they do on charter schools each year. Meanwhile, their educational initiatives and their healthcare initiatives are accounted for separately, and they don't lord over the recipients of their healthcare money with ideological purity tests (in the way that, for example, a faith-based organization might withhold money from a struggling community clinic unless that clinic promises that they won't mention abortion).

    There is plenty of criticism of the Gates foundation's healthcare initiatives

    The main arguments are that the foundation focuses on innovation and technological solutions rather than addressing systemic issues, and focuses on single diseases that may not reflect the actual health care needs of communities. The Gates Foundation is guided by an ideological commitment to neoliberal policies and views which ends up benefiting global corporations at the expense of people. Prima facie, funding the development of a new drug seems undeniably a positive, but it ultimately means that some pharmaceutical company is going to turn a hefty profit selling it to those who need it.

    They don't engage in obvious ideological purity tests like you mention. But their choices in what they fund and how they fund it are no less ideological than those of the salvation army.

    While it's true that there are potential issues, given that this money would be controlled by the US government if it was taxed I think the likelihood that it would be allocated to additional military expenses or tax cuts instead of African aid is astonishingly high, if only because non-military foreign aid is <1% of the federal budget

    In reality, even if it were somehow allocated entirely to social programs, the beneficiaries would almost certainly be only Americans

    Feral
  • FeralFeral MEMETICHARIZARD interior crocodile alligator ⇔ ǝɹʇɐǝɥʇ ǝᴉʌoɯ ʇǝloɹʌǝɥɔ ɐ ǝʌᴉɹp ᴉRegistered User regular
    Jebus314 wrote: »
    Feral wrote: »
    Sure, buying lunch for somebody is not necessarily exerting power over them...

    ...unless they're starving and I'm the only person offering free food in town.

    (The analogy works a lot better if we use a good that suffers from more scarcity, like housing.)

    The central tenet here though, is that if not for philanthropy the need would not be filled. Why would that be a mark against philanthropy? Because they aren't providing for everyone they shouldn't provide for anyone? That doesn't seem to be good or necessary outcome to me.

    So let's be clear here: are you actually arguing that it's okay for homeless shelters to discriminate against gay and trans people?

    If so, consider whether your position would equally apply to landlords or employers who discriminate on the basis of sexuality, gender, or race. Is it okay to refuse housing to one class just because you're housing people of a different class?

    every person who doesn't like an acquired taste always seems to think everyone who likes it is faking it. it should be an official fallacy.
    the "no true scotch man" fallacy.
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  • spool32spool32 Contrary Library Registered User regular
    spool32 wrote: »
    Heffling wrote: »
    spool32 wrote: »
    I wasn't talking about philanthropy, I was talking about Microsoft drinking IBM's milkshake and ushering in the era of personal computing. Gates was instrumental and Microsoft continues to sit at the core of modern computing worldwide. Their work as a company has created entire new professions!

    I'd be a lot poorer 1995-2019 if Outlook hadn't sucked in every release since the first one, is what I'm saying :)

    Bill Gates invented my career. Far more wealth has been added to the global economy as a result of Microsoft's work than he has personally collected.

    Bill Gates didn't invent your career as a programmer. He's a guy from a rich white family that happened to work on technology and got lucky. In that regard, he's no different than Zuckerberg or any other Silicon Valley billionaires.

    And every billionaire has become a billionaire at the cost of the rest of humanity.

    And if you want to give him credit for your career, give him credit for being the person that people like Zuckerberg or Bezos modeled themselves after.

    I'm not a programmer, I started selling software like Windows 95 and building personal computers, worked help desk, moved up through the IT infrastructure ranks. With no Microsoft, I would never have had this career. In a very real way, Bill Gates invented in my industry.

    He most certainly did not invent the industry. He bought a GUI from Xerox/Canon and then developed it as an OS for computers instead of just printers.

    Apple also developed a parallel OS.

    The industry would have developed without Bill Gates, it just wouldn't be called Microsoft and Windows.

    There's no guarantee of that at all, and even so "someone else would've become a billionaire doing the same thing" doesn't really address the point - the industry was invented, a core driver became fabulously wealthy and uncountable tens of millions of people are also richer and lead better lives as a result.

    That's not a bad outcome.

    Aridhol
  • JuliusJulius Registered User regular
    Jebus314 wrote: »
    Elendil wrote: »
    if a billionaire was ethical, they would stop being a billionaire. it's tautological. if you have that much money, you exploited to get it, and you're depriving others to keep it.

    Disagree. Take pro sports players as an example. Below are two unassailable facts:

    1. Having lebron james on a basketball team will yield billions of dollars more in revenue for that team.
    2. Lebron james does not get to unilaterally control tax levels.

    How then is it unethical for lebron james to collect his fair share of the revenue generated by doing his job? Why is it suddenly entirely his fault that tax levels, which are set by a representative democracy, leave him with hundreds of millions, to billions of dollars? Why would it even be more his fault than anyone else who voted for a senator who always tries to cut tax levels?

    It's perfectly fine for him to collect his share. He just immediately should give it to others.

    FeralStyrofoam SammichCalicaMagellKristmas Kthulhu
  • FeralFeral MEMETICHARIZARD interior crocodile alligator ⇔ ǝɹʇɐǝɥʇ ǝᴉʌoɯ ʇǝloɹʌǝɥɔ ɐ ǝʌᴉɹp ᴉRegistered User regular
    spool32 wrote: »
    so are we going to argue in this thread that all philanthropy is definitely an exercise in power, and that no ethical billionaire can exist, and that we should absolutely seize the means of production from every owner in order to destroy all charitable giving while replacing it with perfect and beautiful government-run programs?

    Is that what this thread is for?

    There are obviously people who will agree with everything you've proposed here, but I'd emphasize that those ideas are severable and that different forumers are going to have different opinions about things. If you come at this from the POV of "spool32 vs the thread's commie hive mind" you're gonna have a bad time.

    every person who doesn't like an acquired taste always seems to think everyone who likes it is faking it. it should be an official fallacy.
    the "no true scotch man" fallacy.
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  • spool32spool32 Contrary Library Registered User regular
    Jebus314 wrote: »
    spool32 wrote: »
    so are we going to argue in this thread that all philanthropy is definitely an exercise in power, and that no ethical billionaire can exist, and that we should absolutely seize the means of production from every owner in order to destroy all charitable giving while replacing it with perfect and beautiful government-run programs?

    Is that what this thread is for?

    I would say the likelihood of an ethical billionaire, while not impossible, is far lower than an ethical middle class citizen, yes. And I would further say that relying on their charity as opposed to taxing them fairly is foolish.

    I don't think your second point is supported by either the OP or any of spool's posts. No one is suggesting that philanthropy is a replacement for taxation. But the OP seems to be taking the position that philanthropy is inherently bad, and I definitely don't agree with that, regardless of the ethical nature of the philanthropist.

    Posts have taken it quite a bit farther as well - we're at the thing where all your wealth belongs to the State as an assumed baseline.

    ElvenshaeNSDFRand
  • ElendilElendil Registered User regular
    Phyphor wrote: »
    Julius wrote: »
    Feral wrote: »
    Gates Foundation is a poor example of this, IMO. Most of their spending is on health-based initiatives in developing countries, including vaccinations, malaria control, HIV testing, and clean water. I doubt anybody here opposes those goals, and those initiatives are leaders in efficiency and efficacy.

    We can argue about, for example, the Gates Foundation support for charter schools. But even if we accept as a premise that charter schools are actively harmful, Gates Foundation still spends roughly four times as much money on tuberculosis, malaria, and HIV as they do on charter schools each year. Meanwhile, their educational initiatives and their healthcare initiatives are accounted for separately, and they don't lord over the recipients of their healthcare money with ideological purity tests (in the way that, for example, a faith-based organization might withhold money from a struggling community clinic unless that clinic promises that they won't mention abortion).

    There is plenty of criticism of the Gates foundation's healthcare initiatives

    The main arguments are that the foundation focuses on innovation and technological solutions rather than addressing systemic issues, and focuses on single diseases that may not reflect the actual health care needs of communities. The Gates Foundation is guided by an ideological commitment to neoliberal policies and views which ends up benefiting global corporations at the expense of people. Prima facie, funding the development of a new drug seems undeniably a positive, but it ultimately means that some pharmaceutical company is going to turn a hefty profit selling it to those who need it.

    They don't engage in obvious ideological purity tests like you mention. But their choices in what they fund and how they fund it are no less ideological than those of the salvation army.

    While it's true that there are potential issues, given that this money would be controlled by the US government if it was taxed I think the likelihood that it would be allocated to additional military expenses or tax cuts instead of African aid is astonishingly high, if only because non-military foreign aid is <1% of the federal budget

    In reality, even if it were somehow allocated entirely to social programs, the beneficiaries would almost certainly be only Americans
    i'm going to guess that the percentage of the untaxed wealth that is being reinvested into legitimate foreign aid is also very small

    Gnome-InterruptusJuliusFencingsaxLord_AsmodeusMegaMekCasualKristmas Kthulhu
  • spool32spool32 Contrary Library Registered User regular
    dispatch.o wrote: »
    The processes through which you gain your dragon horde of gold and the inequalities that are required to exist that allow a 20 year old to "make" millions of dollars then roll that into 4 decades of fighting to keep their finger on the scales are not undone by being charitable in your 60s.

    Maybe pay wages and taxes along the way?

    I'm all for charitable contributions to society. I'm especially moved by watching people like Jimmy Carter devoting time and energy to do good.

    Pretending it's some sort of careful challenge to distribute the money you've ruined lives accumulating is backwards as fuck. Pay the taxes you should have been paying.

    Nope, Carter is cancelled in this thread, too much inherently bad philanthropy. :rotate:

    Elvenshae
  • spool32spool32 Contrary Library Registered User regular
    Jebus314 wrote: »
    DarkPrimus wrote: »



    Now, this is just some random person I saw on Twitter, but it's simple math and I don't disagree with what they're saying. After a certain point, no one actually needs that much money, and despite propaganda to the contrary, they don't do as much good with it as if it were taken from them and put towards the public good by the government.

    I definitely agree with this, but I don't think that is enough of a reason to say that wealthy shouldn't be allowed to be philanthropic. And again, this is a wholistic argument, because I think everyone in here is probably in agreement that the inequality levels of america are too high, and that philanthropy isn't a reason not to tax the rich more.
    Jebus314 wrote: »
    Philanthropy allows the wealthy to override professionals in order to gain a decision-making role in areas like academia and public health solely due to their money. When the wealthy donors aren't total idiots, you get institutions like the Bill Gates Foundation, which does good work. When the donors are someone else, you get things like MIT allowing Jeffery Epstein to direct research efforts and get fawning audiences with researchers in exchange for secret donations.

    The more common situation is that institutions chase wealthy individual donors because that allows the leaders of those institutions to justify holding black tie galas, buying gourmet food and top-shelf liquor for events, and otherwise enjoying the luxuries of wealth themselves while justifying it as a necessary cost of fundraising, since you have to make the donors feel comfortable and appreciated.

    At best, this comes with a healthy check to pay for worthwhile causes. At worst, it allows leaders of non-profits or universities to steer more and more efforts toward fundraising, with making donors happy becoming more important than the original mission.

    I feel confident that no one here is arguing that philanthropy should be regulation free, or that there are no bad types of philanthropy. I could be wrong, but for me at least, there should be a fair amount of regulation here.

    I would just push back against the idea that all philanthropy is inherently bad because the source of the funding is a private citizen rather than an elected official (with all the looser regulations that that entails).

    The entire point of philanthropy is that the wealthy get recognition and, with greater contributions, decision making power over institutions where they'd otherwise have no role. Regulating that exchange just encourages them to do something else with their money. Nothing I've said is illegal or unusual - it's how philanthropy works at every institution in America.

    Highly regulated philanthropy is just taxation. That's the best case scenario - highly funded, professionally run public and private organizations funded by tax dollars and grants provided by peer-reviewed oversight.

    I do not agree with this. The granularity in deciding how my money is spent is so much higher if I am donating than if I am taxed. There is no level of regulation that will bridge that gap, ever.

    The thing you agree with cuts against the argument you make against the thing you disagree with.

    DarkPrimus asserts control and ownership over all wealth by declaring that need is the metric we use to measure how much you should have.

    "No one needs that much money" is fundamentally Marxist and leaves no room for an idea of "your money".

    ElvenshaeNSDFRandcckerberos
  • FeralFeral MEMETICHARIZARD interior crocodile alligator ⇔ ǝɹʇɐǝɥʇ ǝᴉʌoɯ ʇǝloɹʌǝɥɔ ɐ ǝʌᴉɹp ᴉRegistered User regular
    edited November 2019
    Paladin wrote: »
    Paladin wrote: »
    Heffling wrote: »
    Philanthropy is direct governance by the wealthy. They are taking on the role of provider and protector that the government should be supplying.

    And, at least in the US, they are able to do so in part because of how little they pay in taxes. And they get tax write-offs for their philanthropy, meaning our government encourages this behavior.

    Our government encourages philanthropy, yes. Would it be better if the government did not encourage philanthropy?

    Yes.

    Because it doesn't really work.

    Especially compared to actual regulated, transparent, and overseen government programs.

    Is the advocacy here for removing all charitable tax exemptions a consensus?

    I'm not sure if we should remove all charitable tax exemptions. I have no idea what the effects would be in such a drastic change of policy. I'd need to see some data.

    I am in favor of tightening the criteria by which an organization can be eligible for tax-deductible donations (in the US). For example, I'd be 100% in favor of eliminating churches and synagogues from our list of tax-deductible recipients. If a church is running a homeless shelter and wants to get donations for that, they can spin that off into its own 501(c)(3) and account for their homeless-supporting activities separately. I'd also be 100% in favor of revoking charitable status from organizations that discriminate against any protected class.

    It's deeply unjust that Assemblies of God can use tax-deductible donations to build a 21000-person megachurch in Arizona complete with lasers and a jumbotron.

    Feral on
    every person who doesn't like an acquired taste always seems to think everyone who likes it is faking it. it should be an official fallacy.
    the "no true scotch man" fallacy.
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  • jungleroomxjungleroomx Panem, circenses, credulous descent. A Gadarene charge into endarkenment Registered User regular
    spool32 wrote: »
    dispatch.o wrote: »
    The processes through which you gain your dragon horde of gold and the inequalities that are required to exist that allow a 20 year old to "make" millions of dollars then roll that into 4 decades of fighting to keep their finger on the scales are not undone by being charitable in your 60s.

    Maybe pay wages and taxes along the way?

    I'm all for charitable contributions to society. I'm especially moved by watching people like Jimmy Carter devoting time and energy to do good.

    Pretending it's some sort of careful challenge to distribute the money you've ruined lives accumulating is backwards as fuck. Pay the taxes you should have been paying.

    Nope, Carter is cancelled in this thread, too much inherently bad philanthropy. :rotate:

    Is Carter a billionaire?

    Make. Time.
    JuliusQuid38thDoeLord_AsmodeusForarHefflingMagellMegaMekKristmas Kthulhu
  • Styrofoam SammichStyrofoam Sammich WANT. 5386-8443-8937Registered User regular
    spool32 wrote: »
    dispatch.o wrote: »
    The processes through which you gain your dragon horde of gold and the inequalities that are required to exist that allow a 20 year old to "make" millions of dollars then roll that into 4 decades of fighting to keep their finger on the scales are not undone by being charitable in your 60s.

    Maybe pay wages and taxes along the way?

    I'm all for charitable contributions to society. I'm especially moved by watching people like Jimmy Carter devoting time and energy to do good.

    Pretending it's some sort of careful challenge to distribute the money you've ruined lives accumulating is backwards as fuck. Pay the taxes you should have been paying.

    Nope, Carter is cancelled in this thread, too much inherently bad philanthropy. :rotate:

    Carter deserves praise for the labor he performs on behalf of the needy.

    wq09t4opzrlc.jpg
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