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Is philanthropy, by its very nature, a threat to today’s democracy?
Though we may laud wealthy individuals who give away their money for society’s benefit, Robert Reich shows how such generosity not only isn’t the unassailable good we think it to be but might also undermine democratic values and set back aspirations of justice. Big philanthropy is often an exercise of power, the conversion of private assets into public influence. And it is a form of power that is largely unaccountable, often perpetual, and lavishly tax-advantaged. The affluent—and their foundations—reap vast benefits even as they influence policy without accountability. And small philanthropy, or ordinary charitable giving, can be problematic as well. Charity, it turns out, does surprisingly little to provide for those in need and sometimes worsens inequality.
RobertReich  philanthropy  charity  review  critique  podcast  LSE  2018 
november 2018 by inspiral
Trump’s Seven Techniques to Control the Media
Democracy depends on a free and independent press, which is why all tyrants try to squelch it. They...
trump  robertreich  propoganda  media 
november 2016 by jremmers
Wait a Minute--Who's Fascist? Washington's Blog
It turns out that the definition of fascism widely attributed to MussoliniΓÇô ΓÇ£Fascism should more properly be called corporatism because it is the merger of state and corporate powerΓÇ¥ΓÇôhas no provenance: researchers cannot find this quote in any original source material. Here is an excellent exploration of the topic: Benito Mussolini on Fascism and Corporatism Via the research cited in Mussolini on the Corporate State, we have a verified Mussolini statement on the fascist conception of the stateΓÇÖs role in the economy and society: The Fascist State lays claim to rule in the economic field no less than in others; it makes its action felt throughout the length and breadth of the country by means of its corporate, social, and educational institutions, and all the political, economic, and spiritual forces of the nation, organised in their respective associations, circulate within the State. (p. 41). In other words, the all-powerful central state worshipped by Reich and all the other Estab
Fascism  Mussolini  RobertReich  Delicious 
march 2016 by juandante
Robert Reich (An Open Letter to the Republican Establishment)
Liked on Tumblr from robertreich at February 28, 2016 at 05:44PM
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february 2016 by moraco
Robert Reich (It Takes a Movement)
Liked on Tumblr from robertreich at February 01, 2016 at 03:48PM
ifttt  tumblr  likes  robertreich 
february 2016 by moraco
Why Philanthropy Hurts Rather Than Helps Some of the World's Worst Problems | The Progressive
"In America today, big time philanthropists are often lauded for helping to even the playing field for those less fortunate. Every week, millionaires flock from TED conferences to "idea festivals" sharing viral new presentations on how to solve the world's biggest problems (give village children computers, think positive thoughts etc.). But this acceptance of the philanthropic order was not always the case. In the era of Carnegie and Rockefeller, for instance, many distrusted these philanthropic barons, arguing they had no right to horde would-be tax dollars for their own pet causes, especially since these "donations" came from the toil of the workers beneath them.

In her new book No Such Thing As A Free Gift: The Gates Foundation and the Price of Philanthropy Linsey McGoey reasserts this challenge to the legitimacy of philanthropy in today's new era of philanthropic superstars. McGoey’s book investigates the Gates Foundation’s interventions in US K-12 education and global health, raising serious concerns about the extent to which the massive philanthropic sector depletes funding for traditional social services and prioritizes the agendas of unelected foundation leaders.

As institutions like the Gates Foundation take increasingly leading roles in policymaking and governance, McGoey argues, the line between traditional notions of charity and top-down consolidation of power becomes unclear; and with this largely unchecked influence, philanthro-capitalists, like Bill Gates, have pushed countries across the world to accept market based solutions for crises like education inequity and disease proliferation—despite evidence that these problems are often rooted in actions taken by those philanthro-capitalists themselves.

No Such Thing As A Free Gift asks, what is the place of such philanthropy in a democratic society? The answer seems to be “none at all.”

Q: You start the book by putting the rise of today's "philanthrocapitalists," like Bill Gates, into historical context. Could you explain what philanthrocapitalism is and what is actually new about it? How do the Bill Gateses of today compare to the Carnegies and Rockefellers of old?

A: The term philanthrocapitalism was coined by Matthew Bishop, an editor at the Economist and expanded in a 2008 book co-written with Michael Green. They define the term in two key ways: First, they argue that philanthropy is becoming more business-like and results-oriented, with donors increasingly applying the profit motive to giving practices.

Secondly, they suggest that capitalism is a ”naturally” philanthropic practice, and therefore grants should be aimed at helping the private sector to solve social problems. Bill Gates has never called himself a philanthrocapitaist, but people like Bishop and Green see him as an exemplar of the trend.

What’s not new about the ”new” philanthropy is the emphasis on cost-effectiveness and strategic giving. Champions of philanthrocapitalism exhibit quite astounding historical amnesia when it comes to the history of large foundations such as Carnegie and Rockefeller, which were modelled on the corporate structures of their founders’ businesses. Results-oriented, strategic philanthropy is a modern phenomenon, but it can be dated to the turn of the 20th-century and the late Gilded Age, not to the start of the 21st century.

Q: There was a recent hullabaloo about Mark Zuckerberg's public announcement that he was going to "give away" 99% of his Facebook shares to charity—which turned out to actually mean a LLC under his control and exempt from non-profit rules against political expenditures and profit-making. Do you think Zuckerberg genuinely understands this as charity? And if so, is this profit-oriented "giving" a major new trend in the philanthropic sector?

A: Through setting up an LLC, Zuckerberg has skirted any requirements to publicly list any grants made to either for-profits or non-profits. His giving can take place in total secrecy: we’ll know only about the grants that he wishes to disclose. When an entity such as the Gates Foundation offers grants to for-profit corporations, it needs to legally exercise "expenditure responsibility," which means that it needs to take measures to ensure that the grant is used for charitable ends, rather than private profiteering. There are no such restrictions on Zuckerberg’s LLC.

Zuckerberg can legally offer the bulk of his "philanthropy" to any for-profit recipients he wants and still receive public acclaim for "gifting" his fortune. We’re seeing the rise of a new, horizontal philanthropy—the rich giving directly to the rich—at a level that’s completely unprecedented.

I think the entire meaning of "corporate philanthropy" is shifting. It once meant corporations surrendering a portion of their revenues to non-profits. Now the meaning is reversed: corporate philanthropy means getting charity to for-profits that position themselves, however disingenuously, as deserving charity claimants.

Q: Though American wealth inequality is at its greatest since the Great Depression, today's philanthropic titans receive much less skepticism from the public than they did in years past. Both Rockefeller and Gates were entangled in some of the most high-profile anti-trust cases in U.S. history. Yet while Bill Gates tops some of today's most admired celebrity surveys, Rockefeller faced so much hostility that he was forced to register his charity in New York State instead of at the federal level. What accounts for the huge shift in the public's mind?

A; Something that separates today’s donors from famous benefactors of the past is that the bloodiest, most fatal effects of wealth extraction have been largely outsourced to developing regions, where brutal labor battles occur regularly but are less visible and therefore less salient for consumers in the west. When Andrew Carnegie, the steel baron, first called for the wealthy to spend their fortunes on the poor, his workers were engaged in very visible struggles over harsh working conditions at Carnegie’s steel plants. These workers had a high degree of public support. Thus, while his philanthropic benefactors did curry some public favor, there was widespread skepticism over the motivations of his charitable giving.

Also, high-profile, 19th-century authors such as Oscar Wilde and Charles Dickens often wrote essays and fiction that satirized and denounced the way that philanthropy seemed to entrench inequalities rather than dissipate them. That literary thread seems almost absent today.

Q: In the book, you document how philanthrocapitalism is seeking to make both charities and public sector institutions run more like corporations, both in structure (with the seeding of for-profit "social enterprises") and operation (as in the case of teacher evaluation reform). What is gained and lost in this approach?

A: It’s very obvious there’s been a considerable shift in how donors, particularly at large foundations, understand and measure their own impact. Garry Jenkins, a law professor at Ohio State, has done important work here, showing how large foundations such as the Gates Foundation increasingly refuse to accept ”open-door” proposals from smaller non-profits: returning again and again to proven recipients. This tendency is undermining genuine competition.

Grantees feel increasingly burdened by unreasonable expectations and short turnarounds for demonstrating a gift’s impact. The education sector in the United States has gone through upheaval after upheaval as schools and school districts try and meet the mercurial demands of donors who are themselves accountable to no one other than a foundation’s trustees or board of directors.

Q: In a review for The New Republic, Dana Goldstein asserts that your book wrongly insinuates the Gates Foundation's philanthropic work is about laying the ground for Bill Gates' own financial gain. This seems to be a misreading of your book's entire premise, which argues that the philanthrocapitalists seek to solve problems of social inequality through market expansion—not because of their own "lust for profit" but because of a sincere faith in unbridled capitalism. Could you clarify the significance of this distinction with specific reference to the Gates Foundations' work?

A: My main argument is not that Gates is trying to position himself to profit personally. My point is that he’s overly sanguine about the value of positioning and helping other elite actors to benefit financially from his own giving. His foundation has offered tens of millions in non-repayable grants to some of the world’s largest corporations, including Mastercard and Scholastic. In email interviews, a spokesperson for the Gates Foundation suggested to me that any giving to for-profits is in keeping with IRS regulations which stipulate that grants must be used solely for charitable gain. But clearly the foundation’s giving is used in a highly commercial manner by recipients such as Mastercard.

U.S. taxpayers subsidize philanthropic foundations such as the Gates Foundation through displaced tax revenue. I’d like to see more media and congressional scrutiny over whether the Gates Foundation’s charity towards Mastercard is really a fair use of taxpayer money. I also worry about the precedent that is being set. If the Gates Foundation can offer a gift to Mastercard, there’s nothing stopping the Koch brothers from directly subsidizing any corporation they want—as long as they can argue that the gift was in line with their own charitable mandate.

Q: In the book you grapple with one tenet of this faith in business: the idea that the "data-driven" and "market-based" philanthropic efforts of today are far more efficient and productive than social services provided by the government. Is this true? What are the numbers on who philanthropy helps today and who it costs in lieu of tax revenue?

A: Scholars like Robert B. Reich place the yearly cost to the U.S. treasury at $40 billion—this is what overall deductions… [more]
georgejoseph  2015  philanthropy  philanthrocapitalism  charitableindustrialcomplex  gatesfoundation  billgates  melindagates  schools  education  policy  democracy  power  lindseymcgoey  interviews  fosterfries  robertreich  robberbarons  charity  taxes  philanthropicindustrialcomplex  capitalism  control 
december 2015 by robertogreco
Silicon Valley’s Basic Income Bromance — Backchannel — Medium
"A cult of bros, brahmins and braintrusters is pushing the idea of a government-distributed living wage"



"Among the grassroots braintrust, Santens is elite.

His fascination with basic income started in his late 30s, with a Reddit thread about how quickly tech-induced unemployment was coming. He read about basic income as a possible solution, and was hooked. “When I came across this idea and read more and more into it, I’m like wow, this is something that can totally change the world for the better.” In the fall of 2013 he abandoned his career as a freelance web developer to become the movement’s most omnipresent advocate. “People passionate about basic income don’t have a very loud voice,” he says.

In person, Santens doesn’t have one either; he’s polite and thoughtful, a reed-like 6-foot-2. His microphone is Medium and The Huffington Post, the Basic Income subreddit he moderates, and his Twitter account, from which he tweets anything in the day’s news that can be summoned into a case for basic income. Santens also created a Twibbon to superimpose #basicincome on one’s Twitter or Facebook profile pic. Such is the newness of this movement in the United States that the guy who does all this wins a profile in The Atlantic, and gets invited to talk on a Brookings Institution panel.

The technologist crowd says a basic income will become a moral imperative as robots replace workers and unemployment skyrockets. Conservatives say it would replace the kraken of welfare bureaucracy, with its arbitrary income cutoffs and overlapping programs. Optimists say humanity will no longer have to work for survival, freeing us to instead work for self-actualization. (You know, start businesses. Go to school. Do unpaid care, volunteer, and parenting work that doesn’t add a cent to the GDP.) Progressives say it would level the playing field: the working classes could have a taste of the stability that’s become an upper-middle class luxury, and would have bargaining power with low-paid work.

It’s a compelling idea having an international moment: Finland’s government announced first steps toward a basic income pilot project in 2017. Details aren’t finalized, but early plans call for giving 800 to 1,000 euros a month to a large test group for two years instead of any other social benefits. (Tally it up to another socialist program from a Northern European country if you will, but Finland is trying to solve eerily familiar U.S. problems: a growing class of freelancers who were neither eligible for employment benefits nor unemployment, and Finns in the poverty trap: taking a temporary job decreases your welfare benefits.) Several Dutch cities aim to introduce similar programs next year, and the idea of a universal basic income has gotten some consideration and endorsements in Canada, where it was tried for five years in the 1970s in Manitoba.

In the United States, it only makes sense that Silicon Valley would be the natural habitat for basic income bros, brahmins, and braintrusts. The Bay Area is home to a fertile mix of early adopters, earnest change-the-worlders, the Singularity crowd, cryptocurrency hackers, progressives and libertarians — all of whom have their reasons for supporting a universal basic income. “Some of my friends [in favor] are hardcore libertarian types, and others will be left-wing even by San Francisco standards,” says Steven Grimm, an early Facebook engineer who now writes code for a cash transfer platform used by charities, the most direct way he could think of to apply his skills to advance basic income. If we’re name-dropping: Zipcar CEO Robin Chase, Singularity University’s Peter Diamandis, Jeremy Howard, Kathryn Myronuk, and Neil Jacobstein, and Y Combinator’s Sam Altman, Clinton administration labor secretary Robert Reich, Tesla principal engineer Gerald Huff, author Martin Ford, Samasource CEO Leila Janah, and Silicon Valley optimist-in-chief Marc Andreessen all support it.

So of course, while Scott Santens isn’t from here, he needs to come kiss the ring."



"Back in San Francisco at the end of his trip, Santens was mostly killing time before a 2:00 am redeye (to avoid the hotel bill, of course). We leave Patreon and head out to Market Street, and Santens snaps a photo of the Twitter headquarters plopped in the middle of the city’s tech-gentrified skid row, where the city’s polarized classes come into sharp relief.

It’s a boulevard of all the ills Santens believes basic income will solve: the shuffling homeless people — they could get cash in one fell swoop instead of extracting it from a byzantine welfare system. Lining the sidewalk are drug dealers; they could do something else, and their customers — not having to self-medicate their desperation — might dry up, too. We pass the Crazy Horse strip club. No one would have to dance or do sex work out of poverty, leaving it to the true aficionados. The high-interest payday loan shop would lose its raison d’etre.

The thought experiment of basic income serves as a Rorschach test of one’s beliefs about human nature: some people instantly worry that human enterprise would be reduced to playing PlayStation; others point to the studies of cash transfers that show people increase their working hours and production. One cash transfer program in North Carolina revealed long-term beneficial effects on Cherokee children whose parents received some $6,000 a year from a distribution of casino profits. (The kids were more likely to graduate high school on time, less likely to have psychiatric or alcohol abuse problems in adulthood.) No one debates that $1,000 a month, the amount usually discussed as a basic income in the U.S., would only be enough to cover the basics — and in expensive cities like San Francisco, not even that. Anyone wanting to live with greater creature comforts would still have the carrot of paid work.

Santens is, unsurprisingly, of the optimist group. He tells me about his baby boomer dad who moved into The Villages, the luxury retirement community in Florida (“basically Walt Disney World for senior citizens”). He says it’s a great case study in that people stay busy even when they don’t have to work: the seniors join kayak and billiards clubs, paint watercolors, and go to Zumba. “People do all sorts of things.” His dad is partial to golf.

Before he goes, I ask what he would do if he truly got a basic income, one that was not dependent on advocating basic income. “I’d do more screen-writing,” he says. “I’m a sci-fi writer at heart.”
You might be a basic income bro if, if and when basic income comes, you finally can do something else."
laurensmiley  siliconvalley  universalbasicincome  libertarianism  economics  2015  policy  government  miltonfriedman  richardnixon  edwardsnowden  martinlutherkingjr  scottsantens  arjunbanker  robinchase  peterdiamandis  jeremyhoward  kathrynmyronuk  neiljacobstein  samaltman  robertreich  geraldhuff  martinford  leilajanah  marcandreessen  rosebroome  jimpugh  finland  erikbrynjolfsson  federicopistono  singularityuniversity  automation  future  robots  bullshitjobs  efficiency  publicassistance  mlk  ubi 
december 2015 by robertogreco

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