robertogreco + charity   97

Nonprofit Explorer - ProPublica
"Use this database to view summaries of 3 million tax returns from tax-exempt organizations and see financial details such as their executive compensation and revenue and expenses. You can browse IRS data released since 2013 and access over 9.6 million tax filing documents going back as far as 2001."
nonprofit  nonprofits  data  database  propublica  charity  guidestar 
28 days ago by robertogreco
Is College Merely Helping Those Who Need Help Least? - The New York Times
“I am — to capitulate fully to the nomenclature — a “first gen,” meaning a first-generation college graduate. For me, as for many first gens, a college degree was transformative. If you’d met me when I was 10 — pulling copper from radiators in my father’s junkyard — you would have thought my trajectory was set. I certainly did. The shape of my life stretched out in front of me like a shadow, its terminal point determined absolutely by where I was standing at that moment. There would be marriage at 17 or 18. Children soon after. If I worked, it would be as a cashier at the local grocery store.

When I was 17 I enrolled in college and everything changed. History, philosophy, geography: A decade at the world’s best universities will lift you to new ground. The life I live now is not the life I was born to. I was propelled up to it, and the motor that powered my ascent was a university education.

This is our ideal of higher education: as an engine of opportunity. And data show that, when it works, higher education is exactly that. So why is it that The Chronicle of Higher Education recently called our system an “engine of inequality”? Has a college degree lost its transformative power, its capacity for lift?

Put simply, no, it hasn’t. We live in a knowledge economy, and human capital has never been more valuable. The problem is distribution. As higher education has increased in value, that value has increasingly become captured by those at the top, so that today, whether you graduate from college is largely determined by your parents’ income. In the United States, 77 percent of children born into the top income quartile will earn a degree by age 24, but for the bottom quartile that number is a mere 9 percent. The implications are clear: The education system isn’t transforming the lives of those who need it most; it is dispensing ever more opportunity to those who need it least.

How it is that inequality has come to define higher education is the subject of Paul Tough’s new book, “The Years That Matter Most.” Tough has spent much of his career as a journalist documenting the injustices of our K-12 system. Here he turns his attention to the years after high school, to our colleges and universities, where we might hope those injustices are addressed. The news is not good. In chapter after chapter, Tough shows how higher education does not ameliorate the inequities of K-12. It magnifies them.

Tough rests his case on research, but it’s the people in his drama who will stay with you. We meet Ned Johnson, a $400-an-hour tutor in Washington, D.C., and Ariel, one of Ned’s teenage clients. We watch as Ned helps Ariel raise her score on the ACT test from a 26 (the product of work she’s done with three previous tutors) to a 32, out of 36. We then see Ned do the same with Ben, a low-income Haitian-American student brought to Ned by a wealthy benefactor.

We meet Clara, whose father takes a list of the 100 most selective universities in the country, draws a line under the top 30 and tells Clara she is only allowed to apply to schools above the line. (This becomes possible after Ned helps raise Clara’s score from a 27 to a near-perfect 35.) We meet Kim, a low-income student living in Appalachia, whose father, a Marine, abandoned her family when she was 7. Kim dreams of attending Cornell, and her test scores (sans tutor) could get her there, except her mother, who did not go to college and is dubious of its value, doesn’t want her to go.

We then witness the great sorting of America’s youth: The wealthy congregate at the most elite universities; the middle class raid retirement accounts and bury themselves in student loans in order to attend increasingly budget-strapped state schools; and the poor — if they go to college at all — are exploited by a cadre of aggressively marketed for-profit institutions.

Two types of stratification are happening here. The most obvious is the concentration of wealthy students at a few top schools. Tough rightly calls out the Ivy League and its ilk for capitalizing on positive press while offering little in the way of actual change. It remains the case that in most of the Ivy League, at least two-thirds of every class come from the top income quintile, while those from the bottom quintile account for less than 4 percent. In some cases the imbalance is extreme. Several Ivies admit more students from the top 1 percent of the income scale than from the bottom 60 percent combined.

Tough also identifies another type of stratification that is less conspicuous but perhaps more consequential: not the inequities between the students, but rather the growing inequities between the institutions themselves. Until recently, the funding gap between our state colleges and our elite schools was fairly modest. But since 1990, that gap has exploded, so that elite colleges now have an endowment-dollars-per-student ratio of more than $1 million, compared with less than $35,000 per student at a typical college.

Tough proposes two explanations for this widening gap: politicians and donors. Since 2008, state legislatures have cut approximately $14 billion in funding from public universities, or approximately 20 percent. These schools make up the difference with tuition hikes, which forces them to compete with one another for the small slice of wealthy out-of-state students who can pay double or triple fare. This is higher education reduced to free-market principles, a world in which universities behave more like businesses than schools, pursuing customers rather than students.

Meanwhile, philanthropic giving to the most selective schools has skyrocketed. As Tough points out, wealthy universities have wealthy alumni, who, after benefiting from an elite education, are even better positioned to donate large sums of money. This is the final cog in the inequality machine, an intense cycle of wealth concentration that Tough calls “unsustainable — and yet, at the same time, unstoppable.”

Some of the imbalances Tough describes are simply breathtaking. In 2009, President Obama asked Congress for $12 billion to revitalize the country’s community-college system. He didn’t get it. But between 2013 and 2018, a lone American university — already the richest in the world — raised $9.6 billion in a single fund-raising campaign. And so the machine turns.

The apparent weakness of this book is its forgettable title; the content, however, is indelible and extraordinary, a powerful reckoning with just how far we’ve allowed reality to drift from our ideals. It’s difficult to overstate the importance of higher education to the present moment. As a country we are divided economically and politically, and education sits conspicuously at the center of both divides. Whether you have a college degree turns out to be one of the strongest predictors of both your political preferences and your income.

Reading Tough’s book, you cannot fail to notice that these three factors are related — that we have allowed the inequities of our economic system to be reproduced in our education system, and that the result is poisoning our politics. We then ask ourselves why so many Americans no longer believe in college or degrees. Or facts. Or science. Why they perceive education as not for them but rather as a good distributed by the elites to elites.

On the other hand, there is not much motivation among people of means to reform education — to give less money to Princeton and more to Penn State, or to send both their taxes and their children to public colleges. But for those wondering why the American people have lost faith in higher learning, the answer is straightforward: If we want others to believe in public education, we first have to believe in it ourselves.”
highered  highereducation  inequality  elitism  funding  education  us  policy  paultough  tarawestover  ivyleague  privateschools  colleges  universities  privilegehoarding  philanthropicindustrialcomplex  charitableindustrialcomplex  philanthropy  charity  corporatization  neoliberalism 
9 weeks ago by robertogreco
The Problem With Sugar-Daddy Science - The Atlantic
"The pursuit of money from wealthy donors distorts the research process—and yields flashy projects that don’t help and don’t work."
sarahtaber  science  philanthropicindustrialcomplex  philanthropy  charitableindustrialcomplex  charity  2019  mit  mitmedialab  research  funding  money 
11 weeks ago by robertogreco
Search Results for “ Toxic Philanthropy” – Wrench in the Gears
[from “A Skeptical Parent’s Thoughts on Digital Curriculum” (via comments here: https://larrycuban.wordpress.com/2019/07/08/goodbye-altschool-hello-altitude-learning/ )

“Toxic Philanthropy Part Three: The Silicon Valley Community Foundation”
https://wrenchinthegears.com/2019/01/04/toxic-philanthropy-part-three-the-silicon-valley-community-foundation/

“Toxic Philanthropy Part 2: Hewlett Packard Re-Engineers the Social Sector”
https://wrenchinthegears.com/2018/11/25/toxic-philanthropy-part-2-hewlett-packard-re-engineers-the-social-sector/

“Toxic Philanthropy Part 1: Surveillance”
https://wrenchinthegears.com/2018/11/18/toxic-philanthropy-part-1-surveillance/

“Philanthropy’s lesser known weapons: PRIs, MRIs and DAFs”
https://wrenchinthegears.com/2019/01/04/philanthropys-lesser-known-weapons-pris-mris-and-dafs/

“Hewlett Packard And The Pitfalls Of “Deeper Learning” In An Internet Of Things World”
https://wrenchinthegears.com/2019/07/07/hewlett-packard-and-the-pitfalls-of-deeper-learning-in-an-internet-of-things-world/

“Pay for Success Finance Preys Upon The Poor: Presentation at Left Forum 6/29/19”
https://wrenchinthegears.com/2019/06/26/pay-for-success-finance-preys-upon-the-poor-presentation-at-left-forum-6-29-19/

“Alice & Automated Poverty Management”
https://wrenchinthegears.com/2019/06/19/alice-automated-poverty-management/

“What About Alice? The United Way, Collective Impact & Libertarian “Charity””
https://wrenchinthegears.com/2019/06/09/what-about-alice-the-united-way-collective-impact-libertarian-charity/

“Home Visit Legislation: A Sales Pitch For Family Surveillance?”
https://wrenchinthegears.com/2019/02/17/home-visit-legislation-a-sales-pitch-for-family-surveillance/

“Stanley Druckenmiller and Paul Tudor Jones: The Billionaire Networks Behind Harlem’s Human Capital Lab”
https://wrenchinthegears.com/2019/01/26/stanley-druckenmiller-and-paul-tudor-jones-the-billionaire-networks-behind-harlems-human-capital-lab/

“Charter, Public Health, and Catholic Charity Interests Help Launch “Disruptive” Pay for Success Program”
https://wrenchinthegears.com/2019/01/04/charter-public-health-and-catholic-charity-interests-help-launch-disruptive-pay-for-success-program/

“When “Community Foundations” Go Global (Or Coastal)”
https://wrenchinthegears.com/2019/01/04/when-community-foundations-go-global-or-coastal/

“To Serve Man: It’s A Cookbook!”
https://wrenchinthegears.com/2019/01/04/to-serve-man-its-a-cookbook/

“Silicon Valley’s Social Impact Deal Maker”
https://wrenchinthegears.com/2019/01/04/silicon-valleys-social-impact-deal-maker/

“New Governors Pritzker and Newsom Set Up For Their ReadyNation Gold Rush”
https://wrenchinthegears.com/2018/11/11/readynation-pritzker-and-newsom-get-ready-for-the-next-gold-rush/

“Too big to map, but I tried.”
https://wrenchinthegears.com/2018/03/18/too-big-to-map-but-i-tried/

“Who Is Pulling The Muppet Strings?”
https://wrenchinthegears.com/2018/01/14/who-is-pulling-the-muppet-strings/

“When someone shows you who they are, believe them the first time.”
https://wrenchinthegears.com/2017/09/20/when-someone-shows-you-who-they-are-believe-them-the-first-time/

“Smart Cities & Social Impact Bonds: Public Education’s Hostile Takeover Part II”
https://wrenchinthegears.com/2017/07/13/smart-cities-social-impact-bonds-public-educations-hostile-takeover-part-ii/ ]
education  edtech  philanthropicindustrialcomplex  philanthropy  charterschools  charity  siliconvalley  californianideology  surveillance  schools  hewlettpackard  internetofthings  data  privacy  children  poverty  policy  unitedway  libertarianism  stanleydruckenmiller  paultudorjones  disruption  socialimpact  gavinnewsom  governance  government  readynation  smartcities  privatization  schooling  publicschools  inequality  charitableindustrialcomplex  dianeravitch 
july 2019 by robertogreco
Shit's Totally FUCKED! What Can We Do?: A Mutual Aid Explainer - YouTube
"Freaked out by police? Pissed about ICE? Outraged at gentrification? What should we do? People are overwhelmed, pissed, and scared right now. This video is about how mutual aid projects are a way to plug into helping people and mobilizing for change. Check out the mutual aid toolkit at BigDoorBrigade.com for more inspiration and information about starting mutual aid projects where you live!"
mutualaid  deanspade  activism  2019  explainer  prisonabolition  government  lawenforcement  policy  politics  police  participatory  organizing  organization  democracy  philanthropicindustrialcomplex  charitableindustrialcomplex  charity  philanthropy 
july 2019 by robertogreco
Data for Social Good: Crisis Text Line CEO Nancy Lublin | Commonwealth Club
[video: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tRlCX597JhA ]

"Suicide and mental health are hard subjects—so Crisis Text Line leveraged the power of the data it collects to help their counselors determine the best way to talk about the topics with those in need. The nonprofit, founded in 2013 by CEO Nancy Lublin, has provided a free text-based and human-driven service to support those experiencing mental health stress, gathering data points from more than 75 million text messages sent and maximizing the impact of their information to better train counselors and support their community. Its innovative and data-driven methodology for tackling hard conversations can also be applied to more than the mental health space, including to Lublin’s latest venture: Loris.ai. 

Lublin’s entire career has focused on initiatives addressing social issues, and she founded Dress for Success and Do Something prior to Crisis Text Line. With her technology lens on big challenges, she continues to iterate on innovative mechanisms and creative solutions to sticky problems. At INFORUM, she’ll be joined in conversation by DJ Patil, head of technology at Devoted Health and former U.S. chief data scientist in the Obama administration, to dig into the power of data to effect change. Come curious!"
data  mentalhealth  socialgood  crisistext  nancylubin  djpatil  2019  nonprofit  nonprofits  911  socialmedia  suicide  society  government  crisiscounseling  emoji  language  communication  responsiveness  texting  sms  stress  funding  fundraising  storytelling  technology  siliconvalley  philanthropicindustrialcomplex  philanthropy  charity  startups  capitalism  importance  charitableindustrialcomplex  canon  noblesseoblige  humanism  relationship  courage  racism  connection  humanconnection  loneliness  pain 
may 2019 by robertogreco
Opinion | The Rich Kid Revolutionaries - The New York Times
"Rather than repeat family myths about the individual effort and smarts of their forebears, those from wealthy backgrounds tell “money stories” that highlight the more complicated origins of their families’ assets. If their fortunes came from the direct dispossession of indigenous peoples, enslavement of African-Americans, production of fossil fuels or obvious exploitation of workers, they often express especially acute guilt. As a woman in her early 20s told me of the wealth generated by her family’s global business: “It’s not just that I get money without working. It’s that other people work to make me money and don’t get nearly as much themselves. I find it to be morally repugnant.”

Even those I have talked with whose family wealth was accumulated through less transparently exploitative means, such as tech or finance, or who have high-paying jobs themselves, question what they really deserve. They see that their access to such jobs, through elite schools and social networks, comes from their class (and usually race) advantages.

They also know that many others work just as hard but reap fewer rewards. One 27-year-old white woman, who stands to inherit several million dollars, told me: “My dad has always been a C.E.O., and it was clear to me that he spent a lot of time at work, but it has never been clear to me that he worked a lot harder than a domestic worker, for example. I will never believe that.” She and others challenge the description of wealth garnered through work as “earned.” In an effort to break the link between money and moral value, they refer to rich people as “high net wealth” rather than “high net worth.”

Immigrants who “make it” are often seen to exemplify the American dream of upward mobility. The children of immigrants I spoke with, though, don’t want their families’ “success stories” to legitimate an unfair system. Andrea Pien, 32, is a Resource Generation member and a daughter of Taiwanese immigrants who accumulated significant wealth in the United States. She spoke of refusing to be “the token that then affirms the capitalist meritocracy myth, the idea that ‘Oh, if Andrea’s family made it, we don’t need affirmative action, or we don’t need reparations.’”

In general, these young people don’t believe they are entitled to so much when others have so little. Many describe feeling guilt or shame about their privilege, which often leads them to hide it. One college student, a woman of color, told me that she worried what other campus activists might think of her. “What a fraud, right?” she said. “To be in those spaces and be acting like these are my struggles, when they’re not.” A white woman who lives on her inheritance of more than $15 million spoke of “deflecting” questions about her occupation, so that others would not know she did not do work for pay.

These progressive children of privilege told me they study the history of racial capitalism in the United States and discuss the ways traditional philanthropy tends to keep powerful people at the top. They also spend a fair amount of time talking about their money. Should they give it all away? Should they get a job, even if they don’t need the income? How much is it ethical to spend on themselves or others? How does money shape friendships and relationships? Resource Generation and its members facilitate these conversations, including one local chapter’s “feelings caucus.”

If you’re thinking, “Cry me a river,” you’re not alone. I have faced skepticism from other sociologists when discussing this research. One colleague asserted that rich young people struggling with their privilege do not have a “legitimate problem.” Others ask: How much do they really give, and what do they really give up? Aren’t these simply self-absorbed millennials taking another opportunity to talk endlessly about themselves?

I understand this view. There is certainly a risk — of which many of them are aware — that all this conversation will just devolve into navel-gazing, an expression of privilege rather than a challenge to it. It is hard for individual action to make a dent in an ironclad social structure. And it is impossible, as they know, to shed the class privilege rooted in education and family socialization, even if they give away every penny.

But like Abigail Disney, these young people are challenging fundamental cultural understandings of who deserves what. And they are breaking the social taboo against talking about money — a taboo that allows radical inequality to fade into the background. This work is critical at a moment when the top 1 percent of families in the United States owns 40 percent of the country’s wealth, and Jeff Bezos takes home more money per minute than the median American worker makes in a year.

As Holly Fetter, a Resource Generation member and Harvard Business School student, told me, “It’s essential that those of us who have access to wealth and want to use it to support progressive social movements speak up, to challenge the narrative that the 1 percent are only interested in accumulation, and invite others to join us.”

Wealthy people are more likely to convince other wealthy people that the system is unfair. And they are the only ones who can describe intimately the ways that wealth may be emotionally corrosive, producing fear, shame and isolation.

Class privilege is like white privilege, in that its beneficiaries receive advantages that are, in fact, unearned. So for them to conclude that their own wealth is undeserved, and therefore immoral, constitutes a powerful critique of the idea of meritocracy.

The fact that the system is immoral, of course, does not make individuals immoral. One person I spoke with, a white 30-year-old who inherited money, said: “It’s not that we’re bad people. It’s just, nobody needs that much money.” But judgments of systems are often taken as judgments of individuals, which leads white people to deny racism and rich people to deny class privilege.

So even the less-public work of talking through emotions, needs and relationships, which can seem self-indulgent, is meaningful. As Ms. Pien put it, “Our feelings are related to the bigger structure.”

One huge cultural support of that structure is secrecy around money, which even rich people don’t talk about.

Wealthy parents fear that if they tell their kids how much they will inherit, the kids won’t develop a strong work ethic. Yahya Alazrak, of Resource Generation, has heard people say, “My dad won’t tell me how much money we have because he’s worried that I’ll become lazy.” One man in his early 30s recounted that his parents had always told him they would pay for his education, but not support him afterward until they revealed that he had a trust worth over $10 million. Parents also have a “scarcity mentality,” Resource Generation members said, which leads them to “hoard” assets to protect against calamity.

Secrecy also often goes hand in hand with limited financial literacy. Women, especially, may not learn about money management growing up, thanks to gendered ideas about financial planning and male control of family assets. Some people I met who will inherit significant amounts of money didn’t know the difference between a stock and a bond.

When wealthy parents do talk about money, they tend to put forth conventional ideas about merit: They or their ancestors worked hard for what they have, scrimped and saved to keep and increase it, and gave some of it away. When their children reject these metrics, parents’ sense of being “good people” is challenged.

When one woman told her immigrant parents she wanted to give their millions away, it was like “a slap in the face” for them, she said, because they felt they had “sacrificed a lot for this money.”

Parents — and the financial professionals who manage family wealth — also tend to follow conventional wisdom about money: Never give away principal. Charitable donations should be offset by tax breaks. And the goal of investing is always to make as much money as possible. As one 33-year-old inheritor said, “No financial adviser ever says, ‘I made less money for the client, but I got them to build affordable housing.’”

Talking about how it feels to be rich can help build affordable housing, though. Once the feeling of being a “bad person” is replaced by “good person in a bad structure,” these young people move into redistributive action. Many talked about asserting control over their money, pursuing socially responsible investments (sometimes for much lower returns) and increasing their own or their families’ giving, especially to social-justice organizations. And eventually — like the people I have quoted by name here — they take a public stand.

Finally, they imagine an alternative future, based on a different idea of what people deserve. Ms. Pien, for example, wants to be “invested in collective good, so we can all have the basics that we need and a little more.” In her vision, this “actually makes everyone more secure and fulfilled and joyful, rather than us hiding behind our mountains of money.”"
abigaildisney  wealth  inequality  activism  legacy  2019  rachelsherman  affluence  security  disney  merit  meritocracy  inheritance  privilege  socialjustice  justice  redistribution  morality  ethics  upwardmobility  immigrants  capitalism  socialism  fulfillment  joy  charity  shame  guilt  charitableindustrialcomplex  philanthropicindustrialcomplex  philanthropy  power  hierarchy  secrecy  hoarding  scarcity  abundance  money  relationships  isolation  class 
may 2019 by robertogreco
How Harvard and Other Colleges Manage Their Endowments - YouTube
"College is expensive, but there is one place in higher education where there's no shortage of money – endowments. There's more than $616 billion worth of endowments assets in the U.S. Lawmakers are starting to questions why tuition is still rising if some schools have billions of dollars."
colleges  universities  ivyleague  endowments  2019  money  charitableindustrialcomplex  philanthropicindustrialcomplex  philanthropy  inequality  finance  highereducation  highered  power  wealth  universityoftexas  hedgefunds  yale  charity  hoarding  taxes  investment  stanford  divestment  economics  policy  politics  princeton 
april 2019 by robertogreco
The Philanthropy Con | Dissent Magazine
"Alongside the privileges our tax system has provided to the rich, we have imported into our welfare system charity’s penchant for humiliating the poor. To be sure, for centuries welfare programs have often rested on the assumption that poverty is a personal failing. But the conservative war on “entitlements” brought new sophistication to this old tradition. Multiple states now require welfare recipients to pass drug tests, even though their rates of drug use are demonstrably much lower than the general population. We have insisted to a mother left quadriplegic by a hit-and-run driver that her family sell their cars, so as to be adequately indigent as to receive public benefits. We have, just this year, placed work requirements upon Medicaid.

The implied question that these policies ask is whether beneficiaries warrant our sympathy. Are they hard working enough, morally upright enough, destitute enough? These questions are patronizing—literally, the questions a patron asks of a supplicant.

Sympathy is a fine criterion for charity. It need not and should not be the standard for government benefits. Instead of worrying whether other people are worthy of being our dependents, we could ask what we must provide so that people have their independence: the independence that freedom from want provides. That was the logic behind Social Security and Medicare, two programs that are bureaucratic without being insulting to their recipients. The impressive voter participation rates of older people are in part a consequence of Social Security; until the program was established, a third of elderly people lived in poverty, and older Americans participated in politics less than the young. Entitlement programs do more than allow people to live with dignity. At their best, they can make better citizens.

By its nature, charity reinforces social inequities and encourages a deference to wealth incompatible with democratic citizenship. In a healthy democracy, taxes should be as “uncharitable” as possible: based in solidarity, not condescension for the poor and privilege for the rich. The first step is to recognize what opponents of democratic governance understood hundreds of years ago: that democratic taxation has within it the power of emancipation."
philanthropy  philanthropicindustrialcomplex  charitableindustrialcomplex  charity  inequality  democracy  2019  vanessawilliamson  taxes  society  governance  government  citizenship  civics 
march 2019 by robertogreco
Actresses, Business Leaders and Other Wealthy Parents Charged in U.S. College Entry Fraud - The New York Times
[using this bookmark as a placeholder for many links on this topic:

"Varsity Blues and the Destructive Myth of Meritocracy"
https://robertogreco.tumblr.com/post/183433523388/varsity-blues-and-the-destructive-myth-of

"Inside the audacious college scheme to get kids of the rich and famous into elite schools"
https://www.latimes.com/local/lanow/la-me-college-admission-scheme-varsity-blues-20190312-story.html

"The College Bribery Scam Reveals How Rich People Use 'Charity' to Cheat
Anand Giridharadas explains how alleged payoffs to test takers and athletic coaches are part of a larger ecosystem of elite hypocrisy."
https://www.vice.com/en_us/article/panw7g/the-college-bribery-scam-shows-how-rich-people-felicity-huffman-lori-loughlin-allegedly-use-charity-to-cheat

"All College Admissions Are a Pay-to-Play Scandal"
https://nymag.com/intelligencer/2019/03/college-admissions-bribery-scandal-felicity-huffman-loughlin-analysis-explained.html

"One of Silicon Valley’s most prominent voices for ethical investing is implicated in a college admissions bribery scandal"
https://www.recode.net/2019/3/12/18262003/bill-mcglashan-college-admissions-scandal-tpg-stanford-usc-yale

"What the role of one Silicon Valley entrepreneur reveals about the college admissions scandal"
https://twitter.com/i/events/1105618857320865792

"The unfortunate reality behind meritocracy"
https://dellsystem.me/posts/fragments-71

"College Admission Scam Involved Photoshopping Rich Kids’ Heads Onto Athletes’ Bodies"
https://nymag.com/intelligencer/2019/03/college-admissions-scandal-kids-photoshopped-as-athletes.html

"Two CEOs. A wine magnate. A doctor: The Bay Area parents charged in a college bribe scandal"
https://www.sfchronicle.com/crime/article/Two-CEOs-A-wine-magnate-A-doctor-The-Bay-Area-13683029.php

"Why the College-Admissions Scandal Is So Absurd: For the parents charged in a new FBI investigation, crime was a cheaper and simpler way to get their kids into elite schools than the typical advantages wealthy applicants receive."
https://www.theatlantic.com/education/archive/2019/03/college-admissions-scandal-fbi-targets-wealthy-parents/584695/

"In the college admissions game, even the legal kind, money has always mattered"
https://www.sfchronicle.com/bayarea/article/In-the-college-admissions-game-even-the-legal-13683518.php

"Fifty charged in massive college admissions scheme"
https://www.msnbc.com/all-in/watch/fifty-charged-in-massive-college-admissions-scheme-1456907331756

"Bribes to Get Into Yale and Stanford? What Else Is New?: A new college admissions scandal is just the latest proof of a grossly uneven playing field."
https://www.nytimes.com/2019/03/12/opinion/college-bribery-admissions.html

"Bribery ringleader said he helped 750 families in admissions scheme"
https://www.axios.com/william-singer-college-bribery-fraud-scheme-d769eb2c-dfb2-4ea0-99f3-8135241c5984.html

"College admission scandal grew out of a system that was ripe for corruption"
https://theconversation.com/college-admission-scandal-grew-out-of-a-system-that-was-ripe-for-corruption-113439

"College Admissions Scandal Exposes Moral Rot at the Heart of US Plutocracy"
https://nonprofitquarterly.org/2019/03/13/college-admissions-scandal-exposes-moral-rot-at-the-heart-of-us-plutocracy/



Additional articles and resource predating the scandal, but relevant to the topic.

[syllabus] "Reconsidering Merit(ocracy)In K-12, Higher Education, and Beyond"
https://www.nadirahfarahfoley.com/reconsidering-meritocracy

"guest post: “legacy” admissions vs familial capital and the importance of precision"
https://scatter.wordpress.com/2017/09/02/guest-post-legacy-admissions-vs-familial-capital-and-the-importance-of-precision/

"Against Meritocracy: Culture, power and myths of mobility"
https://www.taylorfrancis.com/books/9781317496045

"The Unfulfillable Promise of Meritocracy: Three Lessons and their Implications for Justice in Education"
https://osf.io/preprints/socarxiv/6w9rg/

"A Radical Plan to Combat Inequality in College Admissions: It's time universities began to think of themselves as producers of value, not arbiters of merit."
https://psmag.com/education/a-radical-plan-to-combat-inequality-in-college-admissions

"Racial Literacy as a Curricular Requirement: A core curriculum must be institutionalized and mandated for all students, argues Daisy Verduzco Reyes."
https://www.insidehighered.com/advice/2019/03/08/colleges-should-have-required-core-curriculum-racial-literacy-opinion

"'I'm Tired Of Justifying My Admissions Letter To People'"
https://www.wbur.org/edify/2019/02/25/affirmative-action-self-advocacy

"White parents are enabling school segregation — if it doesn't hurt their own kids
This is what happens when anti-racism is no longer a major goal of educational policy."
https://www.nbcnews.com/think/opinion/white-parents-are-enabling-school-segregation-if-it-doesn-t-ncna978446

"White progressive parents and the conundrum of privilege"
https://www.latimes.com/opinion/op-ed/la-oe-hagerman-white-parents-20180930-story.html

"How Elite Schools Stay So White"
https://www.nytimes.com/2018/07/24/opinion/affirmative-action-new-york-harvard.html ]
colleges  universities  admissions  privilege  wealth  inequality  operationvarsityblues  scandals  legacy  legacyadmissions  race  racism  power  meritocracy  bribery  elitism  siliconvalley  charitableindustrialcomplex  charity  philanthropicindustrialcomplex  anandgiridharadas  margarethagerman  noahberlatsky  nadirahfarahfoley  2019  education  parenting  economics  class  cheating  sats  testing  standardizedtesting  daisyverduzcoreyes  us  competitiveness  worth  value  merit  competition  motivation 
march 2019 by robertogreco
Inequality - how wealth becomes power (1/2) | (Poverty Richness Documentary) DW Documentary - YouTube
"Germany is one of the world’s richest countries, but inequality is on the rise. The wealthy are pulling ahead, while the poor are falling behind.

For the middle classes, work is no longer a means of advancement. Instead, they are struggling to maintain their position and status. Young people today have less disposable income than previous generations. This documentary explores the question of inequality in Germany, providing both background analysis and statistics. The filmmakers interview leading researchers and experts on the topic. And they accompany Christoph Gröner, one of Germany’s biggest real estate developers, as he goes about his work. "If you have great wealth, you can’t fritter it away through consumption. If you throw money out the window, it comes back in through the front door,” Gröner says. The real estate developer builds multi-family residential units in cities across Germany, sells condominium apartments, and is involved in planning projects that span entire districts. "Entrepreneurs are more powerful than politicians, because we’re more independent,” Gröner concludes. Leading researchers and experts on the topic of inequality also weigh in, including Nobel-prize winning economist Joseph Stiglitz, economist Thomas Piketty, and Brooke Harrington, who carried out extensive field research among investors from the ranks of the international financial elite. Branko Milanović, a former lead economist at the World Bank, says that globalization is playing a role in rising inequality. The losers of globalization are the lower-middle class of affluent countries like Germany. "These people are earning the same today as 20 years ago," Milanović notes. "Just like a century ago, humankind is standing at a crossroads. Will affluent countries allow rising equality to tear apart the fabric of society? Or will they resist this trend?”"

[Part 2: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cYP_wMJsgyg

"Christoph Gröner is one of the richest people in Germany. The son of two teachers, he has worked his way to the top. He believes that many children in Germany grow up without a fair chance and wants to step in. But can this really ease inequality?

Christoph Gröner does everything he can to drum up donations and convince the wealthy auction guests to raise their bids. The more the luxury watch for sale fetches, the more money there will be to pay for a new football field, or some extra tutoring, at a children's home. Christoph Gröner is one of the richest people in Germany - his company is now worth one billion euros, he tells us. For seven months, he let our cameras follow him - into board meetings, onto construction sites, through his daily life, and in his charity work. He knows that someone like him is an absolute exception in Germany. His parents were both teachers, and he still worked his way to the top. He believes that many children in Germany grow up without a fair chance. "What we see here is total failure across the board,” he says. "It starts with parents who just don’t get it and can’t do anything right. And then there’s an education policy that has opened the gates wide to the chaos we are experiencing today." Chistoph Gröner wants to step in where state institutions have failed. But can that really ease inequality?

In Germany, getting ahead depends more on where you come from than in most other industrialized countries, and social mobility is normally quite restricted. Those on top stay on top. The same goes for those at the bottom. A new study shows that Germany’s rich and poor both increasingly stay amongst themselves, without ever intermingling with other social strata. Even the middle class is buckling under the mounting pressure of an unsecure future. "Land of Inequality" searches for answers as to why. We talk to families, an underpaid nurse, as well as leading researchers and analysts such as economic Nobel Prize laureate Joseph Stiglitz, sociologist Jutta Allmendinger or the economist Raj Chetty, who conducted a Stanford investigation into how the middle class is now arming itself to improve their children’s outlooks."]
documentary  germany  capitalism  economics  society  poverty  inequality  christophgröner  thomaspiketty  brookehrrington  josephstiglitz  neoliberalism  latecapitalism  brankomilanović  worldbank  power  influence  policy  politics  education  class  globalization  affluence  schools  schooling  juttaallmendinger  rajchetty  middleclass  parenting  children  access  funding  charity  charitableindustrialcomplex  philanthropy  philanthropicindustrialcomplex  status  work  labor  welfare  2018  geography  cities  urban  urbanism  berlin  immigration  migration  race  racism  essen  socialsegregation  segregation  success  democracy  housing  speculation  paulpiff  achievement  oligarchy  dynasticwealth  ownership  capitalhoarding  injustice  inheritance  charlottebartels  history  myth  prosperity  wageslavery  polarization  insecurity  precarity  socialcontract  revolution  sociology  finance  financialcapitalism  wealthmanagement  assets  financialization  local  markets  privateschools  publicschools  privatization 
january 2019 by robertogreco
A Way Out – Popula
"I’m telling you this story because I imagine there are others, like me, who want to see a better, kinder world, but they’re not sure how to go about achieving it. When I was 24 I thought it was through proper, respectable channels: NGOs and civil political gamesmanship and gradual pressure for reform. I now know that those proper and respectable channels are an illusion, anesthetizing you to the fact that the world is a vicious brawl for resources, with capitalists leading every major offensive.

And I’m telling you this now, of all times, because I’ve witnessed the future. It’s in Appalachia. It’s in a place called Martin County, Kentucky, where there is no running water, and what little water they do have is poison. It’s in a place called Letcher County, Kentucky, where—instead of rebuilding the public water infrastructure—they’re building another federal prison and calling it economic diversification. It’s in a place called McDowell County, West Virginia, with the highest per capita overdose rate in the nation. In each of these places there are pockets of resistance, begging for help and relief, but no one hears them. In fact, politicians actively ignore them, because the old kind of politics is dead. Look around and you’ll see catastrophe on the horizon of every major issue of our times. The nonprofit sector has failed to manage the contradictions of capitalism in Appalachia, and they will eventually fail you, too.

It is for this reason that we have to acknowledge that what we do in the nonprofit sphere is not actually progressive politics. It’s business.

To escape the logic of this system you have to give up the part of yourself that says you can change the world. You cannot change the world. Mass consumption, mass media, and individualism have rendered the world primitive again, a social vacuum in which there is, paradoxically, no individual. And because there is no individual there is no accountability, no rights, and certainly no social contract. The dream of liberal democracy is dead. All that exists is the global oppressors and the globally oppressed.

I submit that the only thing that offers you a way out of this contradictory mess is the analytic framework of Marxism, combined with the social application of class struggle.

This is a difficult statement to make. It sounds so lame and self-serious. It sounds out of touch. How can you sit there and tell me the working class isn’t interested in wonky economic policies, you might ask, and then shove a 150-year-old book in my face? But Marxism gives you the tools to pry the system apart and see how it works. There’s no wonky economic theory here, nothing like the Stream Protection Rule or stomach ulcers. The words are big but the message is simple, something you already knew: you are worthy, you are not surplus, you must overthrow the capitalist class to reach liberation, and you must band together with your fellow workers to do it. You do not have to sacrifice your intellect, integrity, or potential to the liberal cause of social tinkering. Take my word for it: that road will only lead you to self-doubt and self-abuse.

There is an entire stratum of society dedicated to the cause of social tinkering; it finds its most concrete forms in philanthropy, the liberal media, and the Democratic Party, and over the past two years it has reached a fever pitch of outrage that is at once powerless and powerful. This segment of society is comprised of the upper and middle classes, and as a result the discourse that it produces—and forces onto the rest of us—can only reflect the values of those classes. This is why every few months we are treated to a cataclysmic meltdown about the abolition of norms and procedure, and it’s why they invariably tell us there’s nothing we can do about it except vote them out.

But it’s also why this same segment of society keeps telling us that the left doesn’t have a vision for the future, despite the fact that it does. This vision is actually quite robust and imaginative; for example, there are plenty of working people who are disillusioned with political and electoral systems, and who are fed up with having to work to stay alive, but no one is telling them that human beings shouldn’t have to live like this.

The union traditionally served the purpose of activating these people’s imaginations and class-consciousness, but this is beyond the pale for the liberal theory of change, because there’s no corresponding system of merits or rewards or social-media-savior posturing attached to it. There’s no grant for organizing your workplace, no pat on the head or body of individuals who will thank you for all the great work you’ve done. So as a result, the liberal discourse tells us that history is frozen, and that we’re all just a little bit shell-shocked and uncertain about what to do about it. In fact, they maintain, we are helpless to history—at least until the next election. But this cannot be further from the truth.

Human beings can seize history, and we know this because it’s been done before. In fact, it’s the only thing that’s ever worked. It will take years to build up a movement that is strong enough to do this, and this will require sacrifice and hard work, but it can be done. In Appalachia that will look like organizing the people at the margins of society on the premise that, if they really want it, they can shut the system down, because they create the profit for those at the top. In my community, those people are the nurses, the teachers, and the service industry workers. You could rebut this and say that our country is simply too reactionary and backwards for this to actually work, and you may be correct. But have we even tried? We know that voting is becoming less and less effective as more and more people are purged from electoral rolls. So what other recourse do we have? For starters, we have our labor power—the fact that a fundamental aspect of this system is our collective fate.

If we are going to survive the coming years it is necessary that we demolish the liberal theory of change. This theory tells you that the individual can change everything, while simultaneously insisting that the individual is powerless to change anything, unless it’s in a voting booth. It insists that you, the individual, can be whatever or whoever you want to be, and by doing so, you can somehow compromise or bargain or reason with the forces of capital. I’m here to tell you that you can’t. Those forces only want you dead. You are surplus to them. You are disposable. Sooner or later they will come for you. Don’t let the Hal Rogers of the world lead them to you."
nonprofits  capitalism  2018  tarenceray  philanthropicindustrialcomplex  charitableindustrialcomplex  class  classstruggle  economics  struggle  activism  unions  labor  work  organizing  oppression  neoliberalism  consumption  consumerism  individualism  us  democracy  democrats  theshirkyprinciple  society  socialtinkering  philanthropy  charity  media  politics  policy  socialism  bullshitjobs 
november 2018 by robertogreco
Anand Giridharadas on How Liberal Philanthropy Backfired
"Why Philanthropy Is Bad for Democracy Anand Giridharadas, author of Winners Take All, on how well-meaning liberals paved the way for Trump"
anandgiridharadas  philanthropicindustrialcomplex  philanthropy  charitableindustrialcomplex  charity  democracy  governance  government  nonprofit  nonprofits  2018  nicktabor  power  inequality  control 
october 2018 by robertogreco
AIDependence - Trailer on Vimeo
"Major humanitarian crises caused by civil wars or natural disasters such as recently in Haiti mark humans and cause a wave of solidarity. But do our generous donations actually have the desired effect or do they conversely provoke an unhealthy dependence?

In the form of a film documentary choosing the example of Haiti, we will examine the issue of necessity and usefulness of traditional development assistance and offer solutions for improvement. If, thanks to development aid, houses and roads are built – does it actually stimulate the efforts of the locals? Or could it be the opposite?"

[See also:
https://vimeo.com/67296710

"WATCH THE MOVIE NOW ON: https://vimeo.com/ondemand/aidependence

https://facebook.com/Aidependence

No other country in the world has more NGOs per capita than Haiti, yet the country still remains an impoverished and fragile state. Why is foreign aid not being more effective?
Beschreibung

The award-winning photographer Alice Smeets and the Belgian cinematographer Frederic Biegmann have been living on the Caribbean island, where they've not only supported, but also initiated development projects. This allowed them to get a deeper insight into the dynamics of the aid system.

In „AIDependence“, the filmmakers explore why development aid in Haiti is not working in a sustainable way. Smeets and Biegmann interview Haitian as well as international experts, show appalling examples of failed projects and accompany young inhabitants of Haiti's poorest slum, Cité Soleil, who have decided to take their fate into their own hands; they refuse imposed projects, but develop their own ideas to strengthen the community - even if the ideas may seem crazy, like the construction of a small Eiffel Tower right in the middle of Cité Soleil.

"AIDependence" shows clearly: Haiti's devastating earthquake of 2010 is in no way the cause the problem; it has only aggravated the situation. Thus, the documentary raises urgent questions and encourages the audience to form their own opinion.

a NEOPHILEAS-Production"]
charitableindustrialcomplex  philanthropicindustrialcomplex  poer  governance  government  haiti  aid  humanitarinaid  dependence  control  nonprofit  nonprofits  donations  charity  philanthropy  2012  development 
october 2018 by robertogreco
This City Runs on Donations – Next City
"Small family foundations are increasingly funding parks, neighborhood revitalization, education and more. What’s next for urban-focused philanthropy?"
capitalism  flint  michigan  charitableindustrialcomplex  philanthropicindustrialcomplex  philanthropy  charity  nonprofit  nonprofits  davidcallahan  2016  government  governance  democracy  power  control  scottatkinson 
october 2018 by robertogreco
Anne Trubek on Twitter: "This is the single biggest problem of the entire Rust Belt, I’ve come to believe. Our cities are run by non-profits, not elected officials… https://t.co/5ZHeJlpzkn"
"This is the single biggest problem of the entire Rust Belt, I’ve come to believe. Our cities are run by non-profits, not elected officialsAnne Trubek added,
Anna Clark

[quoting: @annaleighclark
https://twitter.com/annaleighclark/status/1049697553296580608

"The power of philanthropy in Detroit can't be underestimated. (Eg: https://www.elle.com/culture/a37255/forgotten-rape-kits-detroit/ …; https://detroithistorical.org/learn/encyclopedia-of-detroit/grand-bargain …) Money that was denied to the city over decades -- tax base, loans, mortgages, investment, state revenue sharing -- comes back as charity. A loaded…

As in other cities where philanthropists take responsibility for basic public services, it can fill an immediate, urgent need. (Water! Lights!) It also comes at a cost to transparency and shifts our expectations, bit by bit, of our democratic leaders & institutions.

Detroit is, in many ways, ground zero for this model. From 2012:
"Welcome to Your New Government: Can Non-Profits Run Cities?"
https://nextcity.org/features/view/welcome-to-your-new-government

But see also Flint:
"This City Runs on Donations
Small family foundations are increasingly funding parks, neighborhood revitalization, education and more. What’s next for urban-focused philanthropy?"
https://nextcity.org/features/view/philanthropy-money-foundations-city-funded

Here's a provoking take from @DavidCallahanIP
"A Foundation Gives $1 Billion in One City and Things (Mostly) Get Worse. What’s the Lesson?"
https://www.insidephilanthropy.com/home/2017/6/27/a-foundation-gives-away-1-billion-in-one-city-and-things-mostly-get-worse-whats-the-lesson "]

...and I want to publish on this topic but everyone I ask...works for a non-profit so cant b/c of fear of losing their job....

Not to mention the arts...what percentage of working artists are funded by non-profits? Ppl are actually surprised by the concept of being an artist and *not* be grant funded...nor have many thought about possible downsides to taking that $

And according to one very persuasive argument, it led to Trump (cc @annaleighclark—still best analysis of this issue I’ve read)

[but if you wanna give me some of that sweet foundation money DMs are open]

And as Randy Cunningham persuasively argues, in Cleveland the non-profits bought out activists in 80s by creating CDCs

FULL DISCLOSURE I AM PRESIDENT OF THE BOARD OF A NON-PROFIT (also I own a business that is....not a non-profit. We all live in contradictions."
annetrubek  annaclark  rustbelt  charitableindustrialcomplex  philanthropicindustrialcomplex  economics  inequality  democracy  nonprofit  governance  charity  philanthropy  nonprofits  capitalism  power  control 
october 2018 by robertogreco
The Self-Help Myth by Erica Kohl-Arenas - Paperback - University of California Press
[See also: https://www.ericakohlarenas.com/book-the-self-help-myth ]

"Can philanthropy alleviate inequality? Do antipoverty programs work on the ground? In this eye-opening analysis, Erica Kohl-Arenas bores deeply into how these issues play out in California’s Central Valley, which is one of the wealthiest agricultural production regions in the world and also home to the poorest people in the United States.

Through the lens of a provocative set of case studies, The Self-Help Myth reveals how philanthropy maintains systems of inequality by attracting attention to the behavior of poor people while shifting the focus away from structural inequities and relationships of power that produce poverty. In Fresno County, for example, which has a $5.6 billion-plus agricultural industry, migrant farm workers depend heavily on food banks, religious organizations, and family networks to feed and clothe their families. Foundation professionals espouse well-intentioned, hopeful strategies to improve the lives of the poor. These strategies contain specific ideas—in philanthropy terminology, “theories of change”— that rely on traditional American ideals of individualism and hard work, such as self-help, civic participation, and mutual prosperity. But when used in partnership with well-defined limits around what foundations will and will not fund, these ideals become fuzzy concepts promoting professional and institutional behaviors that leave relationships of poverty and inequality untouched."
philanthropicindustrialcomplex  philanthropy  charitableindustrialcomplex  charity  via:javierarbona  ericakohl-arenas  inequality  economics  poverty  capitalism  power  control  2015 
october 2018 by robertogreco
Claire Bishop on PALACE IN PLUNDERLAND - Artforum International
"The construction of yet another enormous venue for culture feels like the harbinger of a horrible new world in which all public services are drained of resources but every High Net Worth Individual can evade taxes by pouring a fraction of their profits into a cultural project that enhances their social status. The über-wealthy once gave a percentage of their riches to the church; today they give them to flexible and adaptable visual art/performance spaces."



"A Schema for a School is one thing; the more radical proposition would be a cultural institution that includes within its architecture crucial services like a public school, day care, or a branch of the New York Public Library."
charitableindustrialcomplex  philanthropicindustrialcomplex  philanthropy  charity  publicgood  inequality  wealth  2018  via:shannon_mattern  clairebishop  arts  architecture  taxevasion  democracy  oligarchy  capitalism  influence  power  museums  control 
september 2018 by robertogreco
Opinion | Beware Rich People Who Say They Want to Change the World - The New York Times
"“Change the world” has long been the cry of the oppressed. But in recent years world-changing has been co-opted by the rich and the powerful.

“Change the world. Improve lives. Invent something new,” McKinsey & Company’s recruiting materials say. “Sit back, relax, and change the world,” tweets the World Economic Forum, host of the Davos conference. “Let’s raise the capital that builds the things that change the world,” a Morgan Stanley ad says. Walmart, recruiting a software engineer, seeks an “eagerness to change the world.” Mark Zuckerberg of Facebook says, “The best thing to do now, if you want to change the world, is to start a company.”

At first, you think: Rich people making a difference — so generous! Until you consider that America might not be in the fix it’s in had we not fallen for the kind of change these winners have been selling: fake change.

Fake change isn’t evil; it’s milquetoast. It is change the powerful can tolerate. It’s the shoes or socks or tote bag you bought which promised to change the world. It’s that one awesome charter school — not equally funded public schools for all. It is Lean In Circles to empower women — not universal preschool. It is impact investing — not the closing of the carried-interest loophole.

Of course, world-changing initiatives funded by the winners of market capitalism do heal the sick, enrich the poor and save lives. But even as they give back, American elites generally seek to maintain the system that causes many of the problems they try to fix — and their helpfulness is part of how they pull it off. Thus their do-gooding is an accomplice to greater, if more invisible, harm.

What their “change” leaves undisturbed is our winners-take-all economy, which siphons the gains from progress upward. The average pretax income of America’s top 1 percent has more than tripled since 1980, and that of the top 0.001 percent has risen more than sevenfold, even as the average income of the bottom half of Americans stagnated around $16,000, adjusted for inflation, according to a paper by the economists Thomas Piketty, Emmanuel Saez and Gabriel Zucman.

American elites are monopolizing progress, and monopolies can be broken. Aggressive policies to protect workers, redistribute income, and make education and health affordable would bring real change. But such measures could also prove expensive for the winners. Which gives them a strong interest in convincing the public that they can help out within the system that so benefits the winners.

After all, if the Harvard Business School professor Michael E. Porter and his co-author Mark R. Kramer are right that “businesses acting as business, not as charitable donors, are the most powerful force for addressing the pressing issues we face,” we shouldn’t rein in business, should we?

This is how the winners benefit from their own kindness: It lets them redefine change, and defang it.

Consider David Rubenstein, a co-founder of the Carlyle Group, a private equity firm. He’s a billionaire who practices what he calls “patriotic philanthropy.” For example, when a 2011 earthquake damaged the Washington Monument and Congress funded only half of the $15 million repair, Mr. Rubenstein paid the rest. “The government doesn’t have the resources it used to have,” he explained, adding that “private citizens now need to pitch in.”

That pitching-in seems generous — until you learn that he is one of the reasons the government is strapped. He and his colleagues have long used their influence to protect the carried-interest loophole, which is enormously beneficial to people in the private equity field. Closing the loophole could give the government $180 billion over 10 years, enough to fix that monument thousands of times over.

Mr. Rubenstein’s image could be of a man fleecing America. Do-gooding gives him a useful makeover as a patriot who interviews former presidents onstage and lectures on the 13th Amendment.

Walmart has long been accused of underpaying workers. Americans for Tax Fairness, an advocacy group, famously accused the company of costing taxpayers billions of dollars a year because it “pays its employees so little that many of them rely on food stamps, health care and other taxpayer-funded programs.” Walmart denies this criticism, citing the jobs it creates and the taxes it pays.

When a column critical of Walmart ran in this newspaper some years ago, David Tovar, a Walmart spokesman, published a red-penned edit of the piece on a company blog. Beside a paragraph about how cutthroat business practices had earned the heirs of the Walton family at least $150 billion in wealth, Mr. Tovar wrote: “Possible addition: Largest corporate foundation in America. Gives more than $1 billion in cash and in kind donations each year.”

Mr. Tovar wasn’t denying the $150 billion in wealth, or that more of it could have been paid as wages. Rather, he seemed to suggest that charity made up for these facts.

A few years ago, some entrepreneurs in Oakland, Calif., founded a company called Even. Its initial plan was to help stabilize the highly volatile incomes of working-class Americans — with an app. For a few dollars a week, it would squirrel away your money when you were flush and give you a boost when you were short. “If you want to feel like you have a safety net for the first time in your life, Even is the answer,” the company proclaimed.

The rub against such an idea isn’t just that it’s a drop in the bucket. It’s also that it dilutes our idea of change. It casts an app and a safety net as the same.

Fake change, and what it allows to fester, paved the road for President Trump. He tapped into a feeling that the American system was rigged and that establishment elites were in it for themselves. Then, darkly, he deflected that anger onto the most vulnerable Americans. And having benefited from the hollowness of fake change, he became it — a rich man who styles himself as the ablest protector of the underdogs, who pretends that his interests have nothing to do with the changes he seeks.

President Trump is what we get when we trust the rich to fix what they are complicit in breaking.

In 2016, Mr. Trump and many of the world-changing elite leaders I am writing about were, for the most part, on opposite sides. Yet those elites and the president have one thing in common: a belief that the world should be changed by them, for the rest of us, not by us. They doubt the American creed of self-government.

A successful society is a progress machine, turning innovations and fortuitous developments into shared advancement. America’s machine is broken. Innovations fly at us, but progress eludes us. A thousand world-changing initiatives won’t change that. Instead, we must reform the basic systems that allow people to live decently — the systems that decide what kind of school children attend, whether politicians listen to donors or citizens, whether or not people can tend to their ailments, whether they are paid enough, and with sufficient reliability, to make plans and raise kids.

There are a significant number of winners who recognize their role in propping up a bad system. They might be convinced that solving problems for all, at the root, will mean higher taxes, smaller profits and fewer homes. Changing the world asks more than giving back. It also takes giving something up."
2018  charitableindustrialcomplex  philanthropicindustrialcomplex  anandgiridharadas  philanthropy  charity  hierarchy  inequality  change  democracy  donaldtrump  oligarchy  elitism  us  michaelporter  markkramer  thomasbikkety  emmanuelsaenz  gabrielzucman  markzuckerberg  morganstanley  economics  capitalism  latecapitalism  davidrubenstein  walmart  facebook  power  control 
august 2018 by robertogreco
Gospels of Giving for the New Gilded Age | The New Yorker
"Are today’s donor classes solving problems—or creating new ones?"



"
We live, it is often said, in a new Gilded Age—an era of extravagant wealth and almost as extravagant displays of generosity. In the past fifteen years, some thirty thousand private foundations have been created, and the number of donor-advised funds has roughly doubled. The Giving Pledge—signed by Bill Gates, Warren Buffett, Michael Bloomberg, Larry Ellison, and more than a hundred and seventy other gazillionaires who have promised to dedicate most of their wealth to philanthropy—is the “Gospel” stripped down and updated. And as the new philanthropies have proliferated so, too, have the critiques.

Anand Giridharadas is a journalist who, in 2011, was named a Henry Crown Fellow of the Aspen Institute. The institute is financed by, among other groups, the Carnegie Corporation, the Rockefeller Brothers Fund, and the Gates Foundation. The fellowship, according to its Web site, aims to “develop the next generation of community-spirited leaders” by engaging them “in a thought-provoking journey of personal exploration.”

Giridharadas at first found the fellowship to be a pretty sweet deal; it offered free trips to the Rockies and led to invitations from the sorts of people who own Western-themed mansions and fly private jets. After a while, though, he started to feel that something was rotten in the state of Colorado. In 2015, when he was asked to deliver a speech to his fellow-fellows, he used it to condemn what he called “the Aspen Consensus.”

“The Aspen Consensus, in a nutshell, is this,” he said. “The winners of our age must be challenged to do more good. But never, ever tell them to do less harm.” The speech made the Times; people began asking for copies of it; and Giridharadas decided to expand on it. The result is “Winners Take All: The Elite Charade of Changing the World.” “I hadn’t planned to write a book on this topic, but the topic chose me,” he writes."



"Inside Philanthropy is a Web site devoted to high-end giving; its tagline is “Who’s Funding What, and Why.” David Callahan is the site’s founder and editor. If Giridharadas worries that the super-wealthy just play at changing the world, Callahan worries they’re going at it in earnest.

“An ever larger and richer upper class is amplifying its influence through large-scale giving in an era when it already has too much clout,” he writes in “The Givers: Wealth, Power, and Philanthropy in a New Gilded Age.” “Things are going to get worse, too.”

Part of the problem, according to Callahan, lies in the broad way that philanthropy has been defined. Under the federal tax code, an organization that feeds the hungry can count as a philanthropy, and so can a university where students study the problem of hunger, and so, too, can a think tank devoted to downplaying hunger as a problem. All these qualify as what are known, after the relevant tax-code provision, as 501(c)(3)s, meaning that the contributions they receive are tax deductible, and that the earnings on their endowments are largely tax-free. 501(c)(3)s are prohibited from engaging in partisan activity, but, as “The Givers” convincingly argues, activists on both sides of the ideological divide have developed work-arounds.

As a left-leaning example, Callahan cites Tim Gill, who’s been called “the megadonor behind the L.G.B.T.Q.-rights movement.” A software designer, Gill became rich founding and then selling a company called Quark, and he’s donated more than three hundred million dollars toward promoting L.G.B.T.Q. rights. While some of this has been in the form of straight-up political contributions, much of it has been disbursed by Gill’s tax-exempt foundation, which has financed educational efforts, message testing, and—perhaps most important—legal research. “Without a doubt, we would not be where we are without Tim Gill and the Gill Foundation,” Mary Bonauto, the attorney who argued the 2015 Supreme Court case that legalized gay marriage, told Rolling Stone last year.

On the right, Callahan points to Art Pope, the chairman of a privately held discount-store chain called Variety Wholesalers. Pope has used his wealth to support a network of foundations, based in North Carolina, that advocate for voter-identification—or, if you prefer, voter-suppression—laws. In 2013, pushed by Pope’s network, the North Carolina state legislature enacted a measure requiring residents to present state-issued photo I.D.s at the polls. Then the North Carolina Institute for Constitutional Law—another Pope-funded group—led the effort to block challenges to the measure. (The I.D. law was struck down, in 2016, by a federal appeals court that held it had been “passed with racially discriminatory intent.”)

It is difficult to say what fraction of philanthropic giving goes toward shaping public policy. Callahan estimates that the figure is somewhere around ten billion dollars a year. Such an amount, he says, might not sound huge, but it’s more than the annual contributions made to candidates, parties, and super-pacs combined. The result is doubly undemocratic. For every billion dollars spent on advocacy tricked out as philanthropy, several hundred million dollars in uncaptured taxes are lost to the federal treasury.

“It’s not just that the megaphones operated by 501(c)(3) groups and financed by a sliver of rich donors have gotten louder and louder, making it harder for ordinary citizens to be heard,” Callahan notes. “It’s that these citizens are helping foot the bill.” That both liberals and conservatives are exploiting the tax code is small consolation.

“When it comes to who gets heard in the public square, ordinary citizens can’t begin to compete with an activist donor class,” Callahan writes. “How many very rich people need to care intensely about a cause to finance megaphones that drown out the voices of everyone else?” he asks. “Not many.”"



"
Critiques of “The Gospel of Wealth” didn’t have much impact on Andrew Carnegie. He continued to distribute his fortune, to libraries and museums and universities, until, at the time of his death, in 1919, he had given away some three hundred and fifty million dollars—the equivalent of tens of billions in today’s money. It is hard to imagine that the critiques of the new Carnegies will do much to alter current trend lines.

The Gates Foundation alone, Callahan estimates, will disburse more than a hundred and fifty billion dollars over the next several decades. In just the next twenty years, affluent baby boomers are expected to contribute almost seven trillion dollars to philanthropy. And, the more government spending gets squeezed, the more important nongovernmental spending will become. When congressional Republicans passed their so-called tax-reform bill, they preserved the deduction for charitable contributions even as they capped the deduction for state and local tax payments. Thus, a hundred-million-dollar gift to Harvard will still be fully deductible, while, in many parts of the country, the property taxes paid to support local public schools will not be. It is possible that in the not too distant future philanthropic giving will outstrip federal outlays on non-defense discretionary programs, like education and the arts. This would represent, Callahan notes, a “striking milestone.”

Is that the kind of future we want? As the latest round of critiques makes clear, we probably won’t have much of a say in the matter. The philanthropists will decide, and then it will be left to their foundations to fight it out."
philanthropicindustrialcomplex  charitableindustrialcomplex  2018  elizabethkolbert  charity  philanthropy  inequality  andrewcarnegie  gildedage  inequity  disparity  wealth  inheritance  hughpricehughes  society  williamjewetttucker  patronage  ethics  wealthdistribution  exploitation  billgates  warrenbuffett  michaelbloomberg  larryellison  anandgiridharadas  aspenconsensus  georgesoros  socialentrepreneurship  laurietisch  darrenwalker  change  democracy  henrykravis  billclinton  davidcallahan  power  taxes  thinktanks  nonprofit  activism  timgill  publicpolicy  politics  economics  us  influence  artpope  votersuppression  law  superpacs  donaldtrump  equality  robertreich  nonprofits  capitalism  control 
august 2018 by robertogreco
DAVID GRAEBER / The Revolt of the Caring Classes / 2018 - YouTube
"The financialisation of major economies since the '80s has radically changed the terms for social movements everywhere. How does one organise workplaces, for example, in societies where up to 40% of the workforce believe their jobs should not exist? David Graeber makes the case that, slowly but surely, a new form of class politics is emerging, based around recognising the centrality of meaningful 'caring labour' in creating social value. He identifies a slowly emerging rebellion of the caring classes which potentially represents just as much of a threat to financial capitalism as earlier forms of proletarian struggle did to industrial capitalism.

David Graeber is Professor of Anthropology, London School of Economics and previously Assistant Professor and Associate Professor of Anthropology at Yale and Reader in Social Anthropology at Goldsmiths, University of London. His books include The Utopia of Rules: On Technology, Stupidity, and the Secret Joys of Bureaucracy (2015) Debt: The First 5000 Years (2011) and Fragments of an Anarchist Anthropology (2004). His activism includes protests against the 3rd Summit of the Americas in Quebec City in 2001, and the 2002 World Economic Forum in New York City. Graeber was a leading figure in the Occupy Wall Street movement, and is sometimes credited with having coined the slogan, 'We are the 99 percent'.

This lecture was given at the Collège de France on the 22nd March 2018."
davidgraeber  care  caring  teaching  nursing  economics  capitalism  labor  work  employment  compensation  resentment  bullshitjobs  finance  politics  policy  us  uk  workingclass  intellectuals  intellectualism  society  manufacturing  management  jobs  liberalism  values  benefits  nobility  truth  beauty  charity  nonprofit  highered  highereducation  activism  humanrights  os  occupywallstreet  opportunity  revolution  revolt  hollywood  military  misery  productivity  creation  creativity  maintenance  gender  production  reproduction  socialsciences  proletariat  wagelabor  wage  salaries  religion  belief  discipline  maintstreamleft  hospitals  freedom  play  teachers  parenting  mothers  education  learning  unions  consumption  anarchism  spontaneity  universalbasicincome  nonprofits  ubi 
may 2018 by robertogreco
against consequentialism – Snakes and Ladders
"If we have a Tomb of the Unknown Soldier, should we not also have memorials to the unrecognized and unthanked workers of charity and kindness?"
2016  alanjacobs  kindness  charity  via:robinsloan  consequentialism 
november 2017 by robertogreco
A Manifesto – Evergreen Review
"We devise and concoct ways to make each other beg for the most meager of resources. Death, which should simply be something that comes to us, is instead an instrument of dominion and torture. We have perfected instruments of death-making. We extend such deathery even to our social systems, creating ways to ensure that the poorest and most vulnerable among us will die because the rest of us don’t believe they deserve the methods and technologies by which we keep ourselves alive."



"And yet, even in our imagination, we cannot conceive of a world where abundance is enough. We can literally create anything we want and live without want, but we still want more.

In this imagined new world, we are still at war with others, crisscrossing space to divide it up into sectors and grids, cutting up even empty air into parcels the way we do patches of land. We make the vast and incomprehensible universe malleable by exerting our history of dispossession onto it. Our thirst for possession is as boundless as the universe we inhabit. Even our imagination is limited by avarice. This is why, dear aliens, I feel no real pain or sadness at the thought of what you might do to us. The sorrows and suffering we have inflicted upon each other, the degradations, the humiliations, the pain, the contrasts in resources and the creation of need—nothing in the universe can match what we have already done."



"Like the utopias they bring forth, manifestos are birthed in the possibility of failure. They succeed not in the audacity of hope but in the audacity of despair. What is the present and the future we need to keep imagining? What is a utopia? What is the nature of our utopias? Do we still dare to have any?"



"No one is outside ideology. Yet, too many Americans believe they are, and prefer to focus on how they feel: a particularly American problem is the preponderance of affect in politics. But when it comes to politics—to anything that calls itself justice—we should only pay attention to two questions: what do people need, and how do we get them what they need without having to beg? Yet our political programs are neither initiated nor sustained by the will to redistribute our ridiculously ample resources. Rather, we obsess over whether the people who receive them are worthy of our care. We ask questions we never ask the well-off: Are you deserving? Do you have the proper moral character? If we give you this money, how do we know you won’t spend it on cigarettes? If you buy food, will it be junk food or apples? But wait, how can we be sure you won’t blow it all on lobster?"



"If you want our help, then make us weep for you.

In that, the left has failed miserably. The left can barely articulate what it stands for without weeping for forgiveness for its own existence. This manifesto is an attempt to instantiate the left. How do we learn to be the left fearlessly, without either shame or arrogance?"



"No doubt, dear aliens, you will have found in your exploration of our debris or our archives (who knows in what state you encounter us) rants from leftists about “identity” or “identitarianism.” It has been difficult to convince this kind of activist that a true left finds a way to think about getting people what they need without erasing the material realities of their lives, but without capitulating to the essentializing of gender, race, ethnicity, and sexuality. Yet, even now, in most left organizations, it is women who do the emailing and the cleaning up, while the menfolk spout on about the revolution."



"A true left abjures philanthropy, which only enables the concentration of wealth by providing the super wealthy with fantastic tax breaks. A true left fights for a society where housing is not a matter of investment linked to the survival of an economy but simply a right. It fights for a world where prisons don’t exist to extract life from those whose failings, real or imagined, we cannot confront and whom we would rather shut away forever."



"
Such focus on Trump’s xenophobia ignores the fact that the millions of undocumented in this country became such under Bill Clinton. Two pieces of immigration legislation, in 1994 and 1996, made many simple misdemeanours into felonies only for non-citizens, and created the three- and ten-year bars on re-entry, which pushed undocumented people, now afraid of not being allowed to return if they should leave the country, into the shadows. Arguably, Trump has fine-tuned such mechanisms, but the tools for expulsion and removal were left there by Democratic administrations and are simply being sharpened and honed by this one."



"Resistance, like the heart, is a muscle, and needs to be constantly exercised. Instead, it’s become a buzzword. It’s made people think that somehow they’re soldiers now, fighting on every front. Ongoing work gets rebranded as “resistance” as if magically, due to the presence of Voldemort, everything changed overnight. The press plays up a collective sense of impending doom, making it seem like our lives are now unfolding like a scene from The Deathly Hallows."



"To liberals and lefties, this August 2016 exchange was evidence of Trump’s madness and his dangerously childish naivete. But in fact Trump’s response revealed the idiocy of nuclear weaponry and exposed the irrationality at the heart of American foreign policy: that somehow there is nothing wrong about possessing nuclear weapons."



"Neoliberalism is in fact capitalism made familiar, which is why I describe it as the endless privatisation of everyday life. It survives on vectors of intimacy, transforming capitalism into an emotional matter rather than an economic one, even though its incursions and devastations are deadly and long-lasting precisely because of the way it serves to insinuate itself into the machinations of the daily world."



"This is not to wax nostalgic about “neighborhoods” or to imply that everyone needs to be an “ethical gentrifier,” but to point out that the economic structure in relation to something as basic as housing is entirely set up to benefit the banking and finance industry. Meanwhile, Chicago resolutely and proudly refers to itself as a city of neighborhoods. The question is: who gets to belong, who gets phased out?"



"how neoliberalism operates upon various vectors of intimacy, and how that intimacy cuts across lines of class, race, and gender with varying effects."



"Over and over, Chicago and other cities fetishise their “neighborhood feel,” creating “community” out of displacement, demanding that the displaced then return only to satisfy the cravings the new residents refuse to acknowledge or to perform the jobs beneath the newcomers’ pay grade. Home ownership is what Americans, gay and straight, are expected to do as married people and the intimacy of married life brutally occludes the covert and hidden intimacies of transactions that keep underground economies flourishing.

Neoliberalism seduces us with its intimacy. Intimacy with our workplace, our occupation, the idea of having to “love” what you do: our work becomes our lover. Neoliberalism feeds off our sense of constant economic precariousness by convincing us that we must never demand more from the state or corporations, that what we label “sharing” economies are somehow community-based endeavors. And so people everywhere distribute their labor almost for free, in workplaces that are described as “mobile” and to which they “commute” as free agents. But these are in fact far more onerous than regular workplaces, and are mostly unregulated enterprises, and offer neither benefits nor protections (the field of “left publishing", including this publication, consists almost entirely of such labor).

But what they do is put us in touch with our own labor as something we control, birth, operate. We work with the illusion of control, but we are compelled, all the while, to cede it. We believe that having no control over the circumstances of our lives yields an intimacy that we cannot get elsewhere.

Neoliberalism survives as well as it does because its machinations allow people to express dissent even as they in fact only echo support for its worst effects. During Occupy, it was incredible to watch so many take to the streets, finally critical of how capitalism had wreaked its havoc. But as I wound my way through the massive crowds and their signs, it also became evident that the palpable anger was not so much at the system but that the system had failed them. Signs everywhere said, in effect, “I did the right thing for years, and I was still screwed over.” Everywhere, there was an anger at the ruling classes, certainly, but I couldn’t help but recall yet again those words about America’s “temporarily embarrassed millionaires.” The subsequent bailouts only confirmed a widespread sense that if we just fix the system, we can make it all better, when the system itself is the problem, and “fixing” it only serves to concentrate resources and power in the hands of fewer and fewer people."



"Capitalism flows unimpeded."



" Western analysts take their own social freedoms for granted—average Americans have, for many decades, left their parental homes in their late teens—but when it comes to other and what they fondly imagine as “more traditional” cultures, would prefer it if everyone just stayed transfixed in quaint old ways, please.

Neoliberalism fills the immediate needs of people in ways that other systems cannot—because, yes, that’s how capitalism functions, by dismantling our existing structures, and creating a need for new ones that provide the illusion of stability but in fact cause more harm. Consider schooling, at least in the US. We first eviscerated public education by defunding it, except in the wealthiest districts, and then created a demand for (exploitative, ruinous, substandard) … [more]
yasminnair  2017  society  manifestos  left  love  compassion  justice  socialjustice  utopia  ideology  charity  philanthropicindustrialcomplex  philanthropy  charitableindustrialcomplex  government  excess  abundance  hunger  healthcare  gender  race  racism  sexism  homophobia  neoliberalism  capitalism  feminism  systems  sytemsthinking  socialism  communism  migration  immigration  donaldtrump  barackobama  hillaryclinton  resistance  future  climatechange  neighborhoods  gentrification  chicago  privatization  class  classism  poverty  sexuality  intersectionality  compromise  change  organization  economics  power  control 
october 2017 by robertogreco
Lingua Franca - February 2001 | Cover Story: The Ex-Cons
"The only thing that arouses Luttwak's ire more than untrammeled capitalism is its elite enthusiasts—the intellectuals, politicians, policy makers, and businessmen who claim that "just because the market is always more efficient, the market should always rule." Alan Greenspan earns Luttwak's special contempt: "Alan Greenspan is a Spencerian. That makes him an economic fascist." Spencerians like Greenspan believe that "the harshest economic pressures" will "stimulate some people to...economically heroic deeds. They will become great entrepreneurs or whatever else, and as for the ones who fail, let them fail." Luttwak's other b'te noire is "Chainsaw Al" Dunlap, the peripatetic CEO who reaps unimaginable returns for corporate shareholders by firing substantial numbers of employees from companies. "Chainsaw does it," says Luttwak, referring to Dunlap's downsizing measures, "because he's simpleminded, harsh, and cruel." It's just "economic sadism." Against Greenspan and Dunlap, Luttwak affirms, "I believe that one ought to have only as much market efficiency as one needs, because everything that we value in human life is within the realm of inefficiency—love, family, attachment, community, culture, old habits, comfortable old shoes.""



"Although Luttwak writes in his 1999 book Turbo-Capitalism, "I deeply believe...in the virtues of capitalism," his opposition to the spread of market values is so acute that it puts him on the far end of today's political spectrum—a position that Luttwak congenitally enjoys. "Edward is a very perverse guy, intellectually and in many other ways," says former Commentary editor Norman Podhoretz, one of Luttwak's early champions during the 1970s. "He's a contrarian. He enjoys confounding expectations. But I frankly don't even know how serious he is in this latest incarnation." Luttwak insists that he is quite serious. He calls for socialized medicine. He advocates a strong welfare state, claiming, "If I had my druthers, I would prohibit any form of domestic charity." Charity is a "cop-out," he says: It takes dignity away from the poor."

[via: https://twitter.com/jonathanshainin/status/907983419413381120
via: https://twitter.com/camerontw/status/908176042182950914 ]

[from the responses to the tweet above:

"reminds me of kurt vonnegut on buying an envelope"
https://twitter.com/okay_dc/status/907991703184912386

"[When Vonnegut tells his wife he's going out to buy an envelope] Oh, she says, well, you're not a poor man. You know, why don't you go online and buy a hundred envelopes and put them in the closet? And so I pretend not to hear her. And go out to get an envelope because I'm going to have a hell of a good time in the process of buying one envelope. I meet a lot of people. And, see some great looking babes. And a fire engine goes by. And I give them the thumbs up. And, and ask a woman what kind of dog that is. And, and I don't know. The moral of the story is, is we're here on Earth to fart around. And, of course, the computers will do us out of that. And, what the computer people don't realize, or they don't care, is we're dancing animals. You know, we love to move around. And, we're not supposed to dance at all anymore."

http://blog.garrytan.com/kurt-vonnegut-goes-to-buy-an-envelope-profund
https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=9299135 ]

[also from the responses:

"Excellent. Nicholas Carr http://www.roughtype.com/?p=4708 "
https://twitter.com/BrianSJ3/status/908022365128462337

"Pichai doesn’t seem able to comprehend that the essence, and the joy, of parenting may actually lie in all the small, trivial gestures that parents make on behalf of or in concert with their kids — like picking out a song to play in the car. Intimacy is redefined as inefficiency."
http://www.roughtype.com/?p=4708 ]

[Cf: "The automated island"
http://crapfutures.tumblr.com/post/161539196134/the-automated-island

"In his frankly curmudgeonly but still insightful essay ‘Why I am Not Going to Buy a Computer’ (1987), Wendell Berry lays out his ‘standards for technological innovation’. There are nine points, and in the third point Berry states that the new device or system ‘should do work that is clearly and demonstrably better’ than the old one. This seems obvious and not too much to ask of a technology, but how well does the automated entrance at Ponta Gorda fulfill that claim?

Berry also has a point, the last in his list, about not replacing or disrupting ‘anything good that already exists’. This includes relationships between people. In other words, solve actual problems - rather than finding just any old place to put a piece of technology you want to sell. Even if the scanners at Ponta Gorda did work, how would eliminating the one human being who is employed to welcome visitors and answer questions improve the system? In Berry’s words, ‘what would be superseded would be not only something, but somebody’. The person who works there is a ‘good that already exists’, a human relationship that should be preserved, especially when her removal from a job would be bought at so little gain."]
2001  efficiency  capitalism  policy  politics  alangreenspan  edwardluttwak  freemarkets  humans  humanism  love  family  attachment  community  culture  canon  inefficiency  economics  slow  small  coreyrobin  charity  poverty  markets  welfarestate  dignity  normanpodhoretz  karlmarx  marxism  johngray  conservatism  thatcherism  ronaldreagan  elitism  kurtvonnegut  nicholascarr  parenting 
september 2017 by robertogreco
Being rich wrecks your soul. We used to know that. - The Washington Post
"The point is not necessarily that wealth is intrinsically and everywhere evil, but that it is dangerous — that it should be eyed with caution and suspicion, and definitely not pursued as an end in itself; that great riches pose great risks to their owners; and that societies are right to stigmatize the storing up of untold wealth. That’s why Aristotle, for instance, argued that wealth should be sought only for the sake of living virtuously — to manage a household, say, or to participate in the life of the polis. Here wealth is useful but not inherently good; indeed, Aristotle specifically warned that the accumulation of wealth for its own sake corrupts virtue instead of enabling it. For Hindus, working hard to earn money is a duty (dharma), but only when done through honest means and used for good ends. The function of money is not to satiate greed but to support oneself and one’s family. The Koran, too, warns against hoarding money and enjoins Muslims to disperse it to the needy.

Some contemporary voices join this ancient chorus, perhaps none more enthusiastically than Pope Francis. He’s proclaimed that unless wealth is used for the good of society, and above all for the good of the poor, it is an instrument “of corruption and death.” And Francis lives what he teaches: Despite access to some of the sweetest real estate imaginable — the palatial papal apartments are the sort of thing that President Trump’s gold-plated extravagance is a parody of — the pope bunks in a small suite in what is effectively the Vatican’s hostel. In his official state visit to Washington, he pulled up to the White House in a Fiat so sensible that a denizen of Northwest D.C. would be almost embarrassed to drive it. When Francis entered the Jesuit order 59 years ago, he took a vow of poverty, and he’s kept it.

According to many philosophies and faiths, then, wealth should serve only as a steppingstone to some further good and is always fraught with moral danger. We all used to recognize this; it was a commonplace. And this intuition, shared by various cultures across history, stands on firm empirical ground.

Over the past few years, a pile of studies from the behavioral sciences has appeared, and they all say, more or less, “Being rich is really bad for you.” Wealth, it turns out, leads to behavioral and psychological maladies. The rich act and think in misdirected ways.

When it comes to a broad range of vices, the rich outperform everybody else. They are much more likely than the rest of humanity to shoplift and cheat , for example, and they are more apt to be adulterers and to drink a great deal . They are even more likely to take candy that is meant for children. So whatever you think about the moral nastiness of the rich, take that, multiply it by the number of Mercedes and Lexuses that cut you off, and you’re still short of the mark. In fact, those Mercedes and Lexuses are more likely to cut you off than Hondas or Fords: Studies have shown that people who drive expensive cars are more prone to run stop signs and cut off other motorists .

The rich are the worst tax evaders, and, as The Washington Post has detailed, they are hiding vast sums from public scrutiny in secret overseas bank accounts.

They also give proportionally less to charity — not surprising, since they exhibit significantly less compassion and empathy toward suffering people. Studies also find that members of the upper class are worse than ordinary folks at “reading” people’ s emotions and are far more likely to be disengaged from the people with whom they are interacting — instead absorbed in doodling, checking their phones or what have you. Some studies go even further, suggesting that rich people, especially stockbrokers and their ilk (such as venture capitalists, whom we once called “robber barons”), are more competitive, impulsive and reckless than medically diagnosed psychopaths. And by the way, those vices do not make them better entrepreneurs; they just have Mommy and Daddy’s bank accounts (in New York or the Cayman Islands) to fall back on when they fail."



"Some will say that we have not entirely forgotten it and that we do complain about wealth today, at least occasionally. Think, they’ll say, about Occupy Wall Street; the blowback after Mitt Romney’s comment about the “47 percent”; how George W. Bush painted John Kerry as out of touch. But think again: By and large, those complaints were not about wealth per se but about corrupt wealth — about wealth “gone wrong” and about unfairness. The idea that there is no way for the vast accumulation of money to “go right” is hardly anywhere to be seen.

Getting here wasn’t straightforward. Wealth has arguably been seen as less threatening to one’s moral health since the Reformation, after which material success was sometimes taken as evidence of divine election. But extreme wealth remained morally suspect, with the rich bearing particular scrutiny and stigmatization during periods like the Gilded Age. This stigma persisted until relatively recently; only in the 1970s did political shifts cause executive salaries skyrocket, and the current effectively unprecedented inequality in income (and wealth) begin to appear, without any significant public complaint or lament.

The story of how a stigma fades is always murky, but contributing factors are not hard to identify. For one, think tanks have become increasingly partisan over the past several decades, particularly on the right: Certain conservative institutions, enjoying the backing of billionaires such as the Koch brothers, have thrown a ton of money at pseudo-academics and “thought leaders” to normalize and legitimate obscene piles of lucre. They produced arguments that suggest that high salaries naturally flowed from extreme talent and merit, thus baptizing wealth as simply some excellent people’s wholly legitimate rewards. These arguments were happily regurgitated by conservative media figures and politicians, eventually seeping into the broader public and replacing the folk wisdom of yore. But it is hard to argue that a company’s top earners are literally hundreds of times more talented than the lowest-paid employees.

As stratospheric salaries became increasingly common, and as the stigma of wildly disproportionate pay faded, the moral hazards of wealth were largely forgotten. But it’s time to put the apologists for plutocracy back on the defensive, where they belong — not least for their own sake. After all, the Buddha, Aristotle, Jesus, the Koran, Jimmy Stewart, Pope Francis and now even science all agree: If you are wealthy and are reading this, give away your money as fast as you can."
charlesmathewes  evansandsmark  2017  wealth  inequality  behavior  psychology  buddha  aristotle  jesus  koran  jimmystewart  popefrancis  ethics  generosity  vices  fscottfitzgerald  ernesthemingway  tonystark  confucius  austerity  tacitus  opulence  christ  virtue  caution  suspicion  polis  poverty  donaldtrump  jesuits  morality  humanism  cheating  taxevasion  charity  empathy  compassion  disengagement  competition  competitiveness  psychopaths  capitalism  luxury  politics  simplicity  well-being  suicide  ows  occupywallstreet  geogewbush  johnkerry  mittromney  gildedage  kochbrothers 
august 2017 by robertogreco
The Giving Code — Open Impact
"Over a year ago, our team embarked on a research-initiative-turned-passion-project that kept us working nights and weekends for many months. So we are grateful, humbled, and relieved that the resulting report, The Giving Code: Silicon Valley Nonprofits and Philanthropy, has sparked an important conversation in Silicon Valley and beyond about the role of the social sector in addressing the needs of the least well off.

The report continues to gain momentum, garnering local and national media attention and a roster of events designed to engage others in this discussion. As social impact advisors, we are eager to understand how The Giving Code is both contributing to more informed conversations and to actual impact on the ground. We are in conversation with local partners and funders about next steps, and will keep you posted on our progress.

MORE ABOUT THE GIVING CODE

NEWS MEDIA

Bloomberg TV: Learning from Silicon Valley’s Wealth Gap Problem
https://www.bloomberg.com/news/videos/2016-11-16/learning-from-silicon-valley-s-wealth-gap-problem

Business Insider: Silicon Valley’s Prosperity Paradox Explains How 76,000 Millionaires and Billionaires Fail to Fix Local Poverty
http://www.businessinsider.com/silicon-valleys-prosperity-paradox-explained-2016-12

Financial Times: Bitter Charity
https://www.ft.com/content/8a87ca78-abdf-11e6-ba7d-76378e4fef24

BuzzFeed: Silicon Valley’s Latest Innovation: Free Market Philanthropy
https://www.buzzfeed.com/nitashatiku/tech-moguls-found-a-winner-with-free-market-philanthropy

Fast Company: Who Silicon Valley Givers are Leaving Out
https://www.fastcompany.com/3066662/future-of-philanthropy/who-silicon-valleys-givers-are-leaving-out

San Francisco Chronicle: Nonprofits Struggle to Adjust as Tech Donors Take Center Stage
http://www.sfchronicle.com/business/article/Nonprofits-struggle-to-adjust-as-tech-donors-take-10823591.php

Stanford Social Innovation Review: Bridging the Divide Between Nonprofits and Philanthropy in Silicon Valley
https://ssir.org/articles/entry/bridging_the_divide_between_nonprofits_and_philanthropy_in_silicon_valley

PODCASTS

KQED Forum:
What to Consider When Donating to A Charity
https://ww2.kqed.org/forum/2016/12/21/what-to-consider-when-donating-to-a-charity/

TinySpark: The Giving Code: Silicon Valley’s Prosperity Paradox
http://www.tinyspark.org/podcasts/the-giving-code-silicon-valleys-prosperity-paradox/

Next In Nonprofits:
Next In Nonprofits 53 – The Giving Code with Open Impact
http://www.nextinnonprofits.com/2017/01/givingcode/

Rob Harter:
The Nonprofit Leadership Podcast
http://robharter.com/2017/02/15/heather-mcleod-grant/ "

[via: "Not incidentally, a recent report found that fully 90 percent of philanthropic dollars from local donors leave the region."
https://www.nytimes.com/2017/07/08/opinion/sunday/silicon-valley-architecture-campus.html ]
siliconvalley  sanfrancisco  philanthropy  philanthropicindustrialcomplex  charitableindustrialcomplex  charity  inequality  nonprofit  nonprofits  capitalism  power  control 
july 2017 by robertogreco
New Art Museums Are an Awful Charity
"Are “the arts” important? Yes. Are museums nice? Yes. Does Mike Bloomberg give a lot of money to good causes? Yes. Is any of this a good reason to give $75 million to build a Manhattan art museum? No.

And yet Big Mike is doing just that! Specifically he has made a $75 million donation to “the Shed,” which is a nice cheeky lowbrow name for a new $500 million art museum on wheels that is rising along the High Line on Manhattan’s far west side. The High Line itself is probably America’s best example of “urbanism to improve the lives of the rich” masquerading as a charity. The elevated park was made possible by many millions of dollars worth of fundraising by the sort of people who are wealthy enough to live in the neighborhoods that border the High Line.

It is a nice park? Sure. We should tax the rich and use public money to pay for parks using a system based on need. Rich people building parks in their own neighborhoods is not a great charity.

So, soon the High Line—and the enormous new Hudson Yards neighborhood being built alongside it—will have its own art museum. (Excuse me— “arts center.”) As urban economic development projects go, this is fine and all. As targets for charitable donations go, it is awful. For $75 million, Mike Bloomberg could have restored eyesight for 1.5 million people with curable blindness or prevented 25,000 human deaths from malaria. Do you think that an 8-level rolling art space adjacent to multimillion-dollar condos is as good a use of charitable donations as those things? It’s not! “But that’s his choice.” Yes—his choice is bad. “Well he wants to help the city of New York.” Okay, give the money to fix the subways. “But it’s for the arts in the city of New York.” Okay, build a museum in the South Bronx. Manhattan already has lots of fucking museums.

Rich people are trying to pass off their own personal neighborhood improvement projects as philanthropy—and I’m sick of it!!!"
art  charitableindustrialcomplex  philanthropicindustrialcomplex  philanthropy  charity  donations  inequality  museums  2017  hamiltonnolan  capitalism  power  control 
may 2017 by robertogreco
The Problem with Philanthropy | Public Books
"In her richly told historical analysis, Kohl-Arenas interrogates the longstanding tension between philanthropic funders and their grantees: “Can the surplus of capitalist exploitation be used to aid those on whose backs this surplus is generated?” Considering the Central Valley as a test case, one would have to assume the answer is no. Farmworkers continue to face substandard housing, food insecurity, dangerous working conditions, underemployment and overwork, lack of health care, endemic racism, and the threat of deportation. While the lack of “outcomes” from philanthropic investments suggest a simple systems failure, Kohl-Arenas’s close examination of the negotiation of power over decades offers a deeper lesson, providing key insights into the nonprofit sector’s role in American society and beyond.

The “myth” Kohl-Arenas identifies is the belief that individuals and communities can change their material circumstances in the absence of any change to the systems and policies that govern those circumstances. In the US, our national narrative places the lion’s share of responsibility on individuals: responsibility for poverty on the poor, for mental illness on the mentally ill and their families, for incarceration on the incarcerated. As a wealthy, developed nation, we are a bewildering outlier in our refusal to take more communal responsibility for our brethren. When people do organize to care for one another, and in doing so discover that life struggles are linked to structural problems in need of policy solutions, they are often demoralized to find that funders shy away from any work that would promote policy change.

Historically, such structural change has proven hard to come by. In 1962, Cesar Chavez, fresh from a Community Service Organization training (funded by the Emil Schwarzhaupt Foundation), moved to the Central Valley and began to organize farmworkers. When he joined Dolores Huerta in founding the National Farm Workers Association (NFWA) later that year, they chose to support themselves only through member dues to avoid the unwanted political influence that external funds might carry. But by 1965 they were applying for such funding. Chavez and Huerta had realized that many other organizations were receiving large sums of money, and that they could not promote their vision for the NFWA without outside funding of their own. Their initial instinct to resist outside funding, however, proved justified: the philanthropies redirected work toward self-help projects that required communities to focus inward and away from the labor organizing that sought to address longstanding power imbalances.

By funding many organizations, philanthropies also created competition among indigenous leaders who had been working collaboratively to empower their communities; this caused conflict and distrust, driving Cesar Chavez out of his role as community leader and into the refuge of a nonprofit. Four decades later, philanthropists are funding a “win-win” model of community development, in which workers themselves bear the responsibility for the survival of the agricultural industry while the company abdicates all responsibility for the workers’ well-being. The philanthropist’s role has thus moved, over the course of four decades, from that of labor organizer to that of arbitration board trying to negotiate productivity increases for the good of all.

The subtitle of Kohl-Arenas’s work, How Philanthropy Fails to Alleviate Poverty, may undersell the point; much of the evidence presented in the narrative suggests that philanthropic intervention actually perpetuates poverty. This is primarily achieved by distracting social movement leaders from the task of systemic change. Leaders’ connection to funders takes the form of endless paperwork: grant applications, reports, logic models, data collection, and evaluation.

And then there is the deeper, more fundamentally problematic influence of the philanthropic relationship on social movement organizations. In the constant renegotiation of tactics and goals—away from structural change and toward individual and community change—there can develop, on both sides, a cognitive dissonance. The stated goals of the partnership can never be achieved through the agreed-upon work, leaving grant makers frustrated and grantees burnt out. Funders abandon one failed initiative for the next, churning organization after organization in their wake of largesse and disdain. This system makes liars of us all.

Considering alternative pathways, Kohl-Arenas singles out the Occupy movement and Black Lives Matter as historical standouts of effective organizing for social change in the past two decades. Emerging from two different traditions of social change—one with anarchist roots, the other originated by queer black feminists—these movements have no centralized leadership, no significant ongoing funding sources that require reporting, and no single spokesperson or list of demands. They both would likely subscribe to the Ella Baker motto, “Strong people don’t need strong leaders.” Her book prompts the question: can activists and philanthropists ever successfully collaborate?

This question has been complicated by recent hiring trends in philanthropy. Today, philanthropies are not the cloistered, family-run institutions they once were. No longer restricted to the grantee side of the equation, activists, people of color, and people from affected communities are being hired as program officers responsible for giving out the money that once funded their own innovative work. Beginning with innovators like the Soros Foundations, bolstered by some of the newer health conversion foundations, and epitomized by the 2013 hire of prominent philanthropy recipient Darren Walker to head the Ford Foundation, philanthropy is experiencing its own revolution.

This trend muddies the waters. Who will be setting the agenda for the next generation? Will it be traditional philanthropists, with this ever-growing cadre of program officers and board members? Or economically disenfranchised communities? Written out, the question sounds rather preposterous: a David-and-Goliath battle for the ages, in which Goliath is played by a sea of people looking, with each passing day, more and more like David.

I feel a generational kinship with Erica Kohl-Arenas. She beautifully articulates the promise of equality that seemed woven into the social contract for those of us born to parents of the ’60s, raised as we were to believe that social change was attainable in our lifetime. By the time we emerged as young adults, that childhood dream had faded, replaced by the stark realities of rising economic inequality, exploding incarceration rates, and persistent structural racism and sexism.

The Self-Help Myth raises the gaze of poverty research to focus on the lived experience of the nonprofit sector. Her account is refreshingly accessible, in part because it is embedded in local examples rather than abstract theories. Intellectually honest, Kohl-Arenas doesn’t claim to have answers or provide a roadmap for the future—instead she offers readers a critical resource for thinking through the intractable problem of wealth."
philanthropicindustrialcomplex  philanthropy  charitableindustrialcomplex  charity  systemsthinking  systemicchange  change  poverty  ericakohl-arenas  occupywallstreet  ows  blacklivesmatter  socialchange  capitalism  power  control 
may 2017 by robertogreco
A Yale history professor's 20-point guide to defending democracy under a Trump presidency — Quartz
"Americans are no wiser than the Europeans who saw democracy yield to fascism, Nazism, or communism. Our one advantage is that we might learn from their experience. Now is a good time to do so. Here are twenty lessons from the twentieth century, adapted to the circumstances of today:

1. Do not obey in advance.

Much of the power of authoritarianism is freely given. In times like these, individuals think ahead about what a more repressive government will want, and then start to do it without being asked. You’ve already done this, haven’t you? Stop. Anticipatory obedience teaches authorities what is possible and accelerates unfreedom.

2. Defend an institution.

Defend an institution. Follow the courts or the media, or a court or a newspaper. Do not speak of “our institutions” unless you are making them yours by acting on their behalf. Institutions don’t protect themselves. They go down like dominoes unless each is defended from the beginning.

3. Recall professional ethics.

When the leaders of state set a negative example, professional commitments to just practice become much more important. It is hard to break a rule-of-law state without lawyers, and it is hard to have show trials without judges.

4. When listening to politicians, distinguish certain words.

Look out for the expansive use of “terrorism” and “extremism.” Be alive to the fatal notions of “exception” and “emergency.” Be angry about the treacherous use of patriotic vocabulary.

5. Be calm when the unthinkable arrives.

When the terrorist attack comes, remember that all authoritarians at all times either await or plan such events in order to consolidate power. Think of the Reichstag fire. The sudden disaster that requires the end of the balance of power, the end of opposition parties, and so on, is the oldest trick in the Hitlerian book. Don’t fall for it.

6. Be kind to our language.

Avoid pronouncing the phrases everyone else does. Think up your own way of speaking, even if only to convey that thing you think everyone is saying. (Don’t use the internet before bed. Charge your gadgets away from your bedroom, and read.) What to read? Perhaps The Power of the Powerless by Václav Havel, 1984 by George Orwell, The Captive Mind by Czesław Milosz, The Rebel by Albert Camus, The Origins of Totalitarianism by Hannah Arendt, or Nothing is True and Everything is Possible by Peter Pomerantsev.

7. Stand out.

Someone has to. It is easy, in words and deeds, to follow along. It can feel strange to do or say something different. But without that unease, there is no freedom. And the moment you set an example, the spell of the status quo is broken, and others will follow.

8. Believe in truth.

To abandon facts is to abandon freedom. If nothing is true, then no one can criticize power, because there is no basis upon which to do so. If nothing is true, then all is spectacle. The biggest wallet pays for the most blinding lights.

9. Investigate.

Figure things out for yourself. Spend more time with long articles. Subsidize investigative journalism by subscribing to print media. Realize that some of what is on your screen is there to harm you. Learn about sites that investigate foreign propaganda pushes.

10. Practice corporeal politics.

Power wants your body softening in your chair and your emotions dissipating on the screen. Get outside. Put your body in unfamiliar places with unfamiliar people. Make new friends and march with them.

11. Make eye contact and small talk.

This is not just polite. It is a way to stay in touch with your surroundings, break down unnecessary social barriers, and come to understand whom you should and should not trust. If we enter a culture of denunciation, you will want to know the psychological landscape of your daily life.

12. Take responsibility for the face of the world.

Notice the swastikas and the other signs of hate. Do not look away and do not get used to them. Remove them yourself and set an example for others to do so.

13. Hinder the one-party state.

The parties that took over states were once something else. They exploited a historical moment to make political life impossible for their rivals. Vote in local and state elections while you can.

14. Give regularly to good causes, if you can.

Pick a charity and set up autopay. Then you will know that you have made a free choice that is supporting civil society helping others doing something good.

15. Establish a private life.

Nastier rulers will use what they know about you to push you around. Scrub your computer of malware. Remember that email is skywriting. Consider using alternative forms of the internet, or simply using it less. Have personal exchanges in person. For the same reason, resolve any legal trouble. Authoritarianism works as a blackmail state, looking for the hook on which to hang you. Try not to have too many hooks.

16. Learn from others in other countries.

Keep up your friendships abroad, or make new friends abroad. The present difficulties here are an element of a general trend. And no country is going to find a solution by itself. Make sure you and your family have passports.

17. Watch out for the paramilitaries.

When the men with guns who have always claimed to be against the system start wearing uniforms and marching around with torches and pictures of a Leader, the end is nigh. When the pro-Leader paramilitary and the official police and military intermingle, the game is over.

18. Be reflective if you must be armed.

If you carry a weapon in public service, God bless you and keep you. But know that evils of the past involved policemen and soldiers finding themselves, one day, doing irregular things. Be ready to say no. (If you do not know what this means, contact the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum and ask about training in professional ethics.)

19. Be as courageous as you can.

If none of us is prepared to die for freedom, then all of us will die in unfreedom.

20. Be a patriot.

The incoming president is not. Set a good example of what America means for the generations to come. They will need it."
democracy  history  politics  psychology  resistance  2016  donaldtrump  timothysnyder  obedience  language  fascism  nazism  institutions  ethics  truth  responsibility  charity 
february 2017 by robertogreco
99 Reasons 2016 Was a Good Year – Future Crunch – Medium
[See also Chris Hadfield’s list:

"With celebrity death and elections taking the media by the nose, it’s easy to forget that this year saw a great many positives. Let’s look."
https://pinboard.in/u:robertogreco/b:017019e54e7b ]

"Our media feeds are echo chambers. And those echo chambers don’t just reflect our political beliefs; they reflect our feelings about human progress. Bad news is a bubble too."

Some of the biggest conservation successes in generation

[1 – 9]

Huge strides forward for global health

[10 – 24]

Political and economic progress in many parts of the world

[25 – 41]

We finally started responding seriously to the climate change emergency

[42 – 59]

The world got less violent

[60 – 66]

Signs of hope for a life-sustaining economy

[67 – 78]

Endangered animals got a some well-deserved breaks

[79 – 90]

The world got more generous

[91 – 99]"
via:anne  optimism  2016  trends  improvement  progress  health  global  healthcare  disease  conservation  environment  chrishadfield  economics  endangeredanimals  animals  violence  climatechange  politics  generosity  charity  philanthropy 
january 2017 by robertogreco
The Gates Foundation, Ebola, and Global Health Imperialism | Jacob Levich - Academia.edu
"Powerful institutions of Western capital, notably the Bill& Melinda Gates Foundation, viewed the African Ebola outbreak of 2014–2015 as an opportunity to advance an ambitious global agenda.Building on recent public health literature proposing “global health governance” (GHG) as the preferred model for international healthcare, Bill Gates publicly called for the creation of a worldwide,militarized, supranational authority capable of responding decisively to outbreaks of infectious disease—an authority governed by Western powers and targeting the underdeveloped world. This article examines the media-generated panic surrounding Ebola alongside the response and underlying motives of foundations, governments, and other institutions. It describes the evolution and goals of GHG, in particular its opposition to traditional notions of Westphalian sovereignty. It proposes a different concept—“global health imperialism”—as a more useful framework for understanding the current conditions and likely future of international healthcare."

[via the thread that starts with (and contains highlighted screenshots)

"The Gates Foundation, Ebola and Global Health Imperialism. https://www.academia.edu/16242454/The_Gates_Foundation_Ebola_and_Global_Health_Imperialism … #ResistCapitalism

Really great & insightful read."
https://twitter.com/JordanLM__/status/791260406518079488

Amidst the Ebola outbreak, Gates said there needs to be a 'powerful global warning and response system' alike to NATO rather than WHO etc.



I did not know about this.
International health charity has its roots in colonial 'tropical medicine schools' est in Britain 19th cent.

Post-war philanthropy 'development' schemes specifically set out to pacify the third world & counter communism.

Agricultural CDPs [Community Development Programmes] in post-ind India, were specifically to counter revolutionary communist threats of.....

wait for it....'basic social reforms'.
Basic social reforms in India fought for by revolutionary communists were a threat to the US empire

See how subtle academia frames things like this. It's not by accident. #Imperialism #ResistCapitalism #GHG ['Global Health Governance']" ]

[that thread via "Bill Gates publicly called for the creation of a worldwide, militarized, supranational authority..."
https://twitter.com/shailjapatel/status/815457312013856768
gatesfoundation  imperialism  global  health  capitalism  charity  philanthropicindustrialcomplex  philanthropy  communism  history  development  agriculture  us  policy  thirdworld  colonialism  healthcare  medicine  healthimperialism  charitableindustrialcomplex  power  control 
january 2017 by robertogreco
Ketchup Sandwiches and Other Things Stupid Poor People Eat – Medium
"America loves helping the shoeless, iphoneless, voteless, bug-infested Street Jesuses. These are the lost-cause poor; all they want is your pocket change. (Bless their hearts.) But the working poor? Those who claim to not have enough money for food because they also need clothes for work, water for bathing and laundry, rent for housing, heat in the winter, money for daycare, a smartphone for their job, car insurance and gas — those are some shifty motherfuckers.

If you’re on food stamps America has every right to hate you, as evidenced by this angry Conservative yelling at a father and child for using food stamps. This lady proves Conservatives love a good hate like they love a good steak. I assume she thinks of herself as a nice person, a good person, a church-goer. We all think everyone else is the asshole, right? There isn’t a lot of self-directed road rage out there. How often do we key our own cars? It’s always okay to hate the other guy when the hate is justified — like child predators, rapists and food stamp users.

Huddled round the Fox News campfire are those who love tall tales of poor people using tax dollars to buy drugs and alcohol and Gucci shoes. That’s not how it works. I’ve been on food stamps. The government doesn’t hand out wads of cash. When you qualify for food stamps you receive a plastic grocery card that only works for food transactions. Key word: qualify. You don’t just sign up. It’s not a tennis lesson at the club. What’s scary about the woman in the video is that she sees what’s in the dad’s cart (food for his kid) and she hates him for it.

Stupid fucking poor people. If only we’d been engineer majors in college. If only we’d gone to college. If only our parents hadn’t been poor. If only they spoke English. If only we worked harder. If only we were more like Conservatives who believe everything they have today is a direct result from the sweat of their own brow.

When looking at a spider’s web can you point to the 8th spun web, or the 108th? There are those who claim this astounding ability — those who take full credit for crafting, spin by spin, a better life than ours, a life without aid. If you had help paying for college, if someone bought you your first car, if you had health insurance growing up, if your mom never cried over $17, you were lucky. The Hail Mary toss of birth landed you in a family that could put you on a soccer team and buy cleats as your foot grew. And someone was home to help you with your math and give you a gummy vitamin each morning. That’s called aid, by the way. And not all kids get it, but all kids should.

Don’t confuse aid with charity. Charity is old coats. Donating a coat doesn’t make you a good person but I bet it makes you feel like one. You didn’t even want that coat anymore, what you wanted was the closet space. Sure, you could have sold it at a garage sale and made, like, twenty bucks. It was an expensive coat, damn it. But you, with your heart of gold, gave it away. There’s a twinkle in God’s eye just for you.

What makes you a good person to others (and not just to yourself) is the same thing that makes me, or anyone who can afford the occasional $12 cocktail, a good person: Your vote. Not your coat. 

Vote for a Living Wage for others. Vote for health insurance for others. Don’t get in the way of food stamps for others. Understand how important $17 might be to others. That poor stretch of Atlanta is quiet because people are working and paying for day care. They’re clocking the same hours you’re clocking but they make a shit wage.

Take a good long look at your feet. If you were born at the starting line wearing a nice pair of running shoes, that was luck. Sheer luck. The most important thing you can do now is help those who had to start the race a mile behind you, barefoot."
poverty  politics  us  judgement  anastasiabasil  2016  charity  policy 
september 2016 by robertogreco
From A Pedagogy for Liberation to Liberation from Pedagogy [.pdf]
Gustavo Esteva
Madhu S. Prakash
Dana L. Stuchul

"At the end of his life, Freire wrote a short book, Pedagogía de la autonomía. (Freire, 1997) In it, he offers a meditation on his life and work, while returning to his most important themes. Freire reminds us that his education, his pedagogy, is pointedly and purposively ideological and interventionist. It requires mediators. Here again, it addresses those mediators: a final call to involve them in the crusade.
The leitmotiv of the book, the thread woven through every page as it occurred everyday in the life of Freire, is the affirmation of the universal ethic of the human being --- universal love as an ontological vocation. He recognizes its historical character. And he reminds us that it is not any ethic: it is the ethic of human solidarity. (Freire, 1996, p.124) Freire promotes a policy of human development, privileging men and humans, rather than profit. (Freire, 1996, p.125) He proclaims solidarity as a historical commitment of men and women, as one of the forms of struggle capable of promoting and instilling the universal ethic of the human being. (Freire, 1997, p.13)

Similar to liberation theology (an option for the poor) courageously adopted by an important sector of the Catholic Church in Latin America, Freire finds a foundation and a destiny for his theory and practice in the ideal of solidarity. Solidarity expresses an historical commitment based on a universal ethics. Solidarity legitimizes intervention in the lives of others in order to conscienticize them. Derived from charity, caritas, the Greek and Latin word for love, and motivated by care, by benevolence, by love for the other, conscientization becomes a universal, ethical imperative.

Certainly, Freire was fully aware of the nature of modern aid; of what he called false generosity. He identified clearly the disabling and damaging impact of all kinds of such aid. Yet, for all of his clarity and awareness, he is unable to focus his critique on service: particularly that service provided by service professionals. Freire's specific blindness is an inability to identify the false premises and dubious interventions --- in the name of care --- of one specific class of service professionals: educators.

In its modern institutional form, qua service, care is the mask of love. This mask is not a false face. The modernized service-provider believes in his care and love, perhaps more than even the serviced. The mask is the face. (McKnight, 1977, p.73) Yet, the mask of care and love obscure the economic nature of service, the economic interests behind it. Even worse, this mask hides the disabling nature of service professions, like education.

All of the caring, disabling professions are based on the assumption or presupposition of a lack, a deficiency, a need, that the professional service can best satisfy. The very modern creation of the needy man, a product of economic society, of capitalism, and the very mechanism through which needs are systematically produced in the economic society, are hidden behind the idea of service. Once the need is identified, the necessity of service becomes evident. It is a mechanism analogous to the one used by an expert to transmogrify a situation into a "problem" whose solution --- usually including his own services --- he proposes.

In this way, Freire constructed the human need for the conscience he conceived. In attributing such need to his oppressed, he also constructed the process to satisfy it: conscientization. Thus, the process reifies the need and the outcome: only conscientization can address the need for an improved conscience and consciousness and only education can deliver conscientization. This educational servicing of the oppressed, however, is masked: as care, love, vocation, historical commitment, as an expression of Freire's universal ethic of solidarity. Freire's blindness is his inability to perceive the disabling effect of his various activities or strategies of conscientization. He seems unaware that the business of modern society is service and that social service in modern society is business. (McKnight, 1997, p.69) Today, economic powers like the USA pride themselves in being post-industrial: that is, the replacement of smoke stacks and sweatshops moved to the South, with an economy retooled for global supremacy in providing service. With ever increasing needs, satisfaction of these needs requires more service resulting in unlimited economic growth.

Freire was also unaware that solidarity, both the word and the idea, are today the new mask of aid and development, of care and love. For example, in the 1990s, the neoliberal government of Mexican president Carlos Salinas used a good portion of the funds obtained through privatization to implement the Programa Nacional de Solidaridad. The program was celebrated by the World Bank as the best social program in the world. It is now well documented that, like all other wars against poverty, it was basically a war waged against the poor, widening and deepening the condition it was supposed to cure, a condition that, in the first place, was aggravated by the policies associated with the neoliberal credo.

Freire could not perceive the corruption of love through caring, through service. Furthermore, he was unable to perceive that the very foundation of his own notion of universal, globalized love, God's love for his children through Christ, is also a corruption of Christianity. (Cayley, 2000)

Freire was particularly unable to perceive the impact of the corruption which occurs when the oppressed are transformed into the objects of service: as clients, beneficiaries, and customers. Having created a radical separation between his oppressed and their educators, Freire was unsuccessful in bringing them together, despite all his attempts to do so through his dialogue, his deep literacy --- key words for empowerment and participation. All these pedagogical and curricular tools of education prove themselves repeatedly to be counterproductive: they produce the opposite of what they pretend to create. Instead of liberation, they add to the lives of oppressed clients, more chains and more dependency on the pedagogy and curricula of the mediator.iii.

During the last several centuries, all kinds of agents have pretended to "liberate" pagans, savages, natives, the oppressed, the under-developed, the uneducated, under-educated, and the illiterate in the name of the Cross, civilization (i.e. Westernization), capitalism or socialism, human rights, democracy, a universal ethic, progress or any other banner of development. Every time the mediator conceptualizes the category or class of the oppressed in his/her own terms, with his/her own ideology, he is morally obligated to evangelize: to promote among them, for their own good, the kind of transformation he or she defines as liberation. Yet, a specific blindness seems to be the common denominator among these mediators: an awareness of their own oppression. In assuming that they have succeeded in reaching an advanced level or stage of awareness, conscience, or even liberation (at least in theory, in imagination, in dreams), and in assuming, even more, that what their oppressed lack is this specific notion or stage, they assume and legitimate their own role as liberators. Herein, they betray their intentions.

In response to colonization, Yvonne Dion-Buffalo and John Mohawk recently suggested that colonized peoples have three choices: 1) to become good subjects, accepting the premises of the modern West without much question, 2) to become bad subjects, always resisting the parameters of the colonizing world, or 3) to become non-subjects, acting and thinking in ways far removed from those of the modern West. (Quoted in Esteva and Prakash, 1998, p.45)"



"In his denunciation of the discrimination suffered by the illiterate, Freire does not see, smell, imagine or perceive the differential reality of the oral world. While aspiring to eliminate all these forms of discrimination from the planet, he takes for granted, without more critical consideration, that reading and writing are fundamental basic needs for all humans. And, he embraces the implications of such assumptions: that the illiterate person is not a full human being.

Freire's pedagogic method requires that literacy should be rooted in the socio- political context of the illiterate. He is convinced that in and through such a process, they would acquire a critical judgement about the society in which they suffer oppression. But he does not take into account any critical consideration of the oppressive and alienating character implicit in the tool itself, the alphabet. He can not bring his reflection and practice to the point in which it is possible, like with many other modern tools, to establish clear limits to the alphabet in order to create the conditions for the oppressed to critically use the alphabet instead of being used by it."



"IV. Resisting Love: The Case Against Education

Freire's central presupposition: that education is a universal good, part and parcel of the human condition, was never questioned, in spite of the fact that he was personally exposed, for a long time, to an alternative view. This seems to us at least strange, if not abhorrent.
Freire was explicitly interested in the oppressed. His entire life and work were presented as a vocation committed to assuming their view, their interests. Yet, he ignored the plain fact that for the oppressed, the social majorities of the world, education has become one of the most humiliating and disabling components of their oppression: perhaps, even the very worst.



"For clarifying the issues of this essay, we chose to reflect on the life, the work, and the teachings of Gandhi, Subcommandante Marcos and Wendell Berry. Purposely, we juxtapose them to exacerbate their radical and dramatic differences. Is it absurd to even place them under the umbrella of public and private virtues we dwell on as we … [more]
gustavoesteva  madhuprakash  danastuchul  liberation  pedagogy  pedagogyoftheoppressed  wendellberry  solidarity  care  love  caring  carlossalinas  neoliberalism  teaching  howweteach  education  conscientization  liberationtheology  charity  service  servicelearning  economics  oppression  capitalism  mediators  leadership  evangelization  yvonnedion-buffalo  johnmohawk  legibility  decolonization  colonialism  karlmarx  ivanillich  technology  literacy  illegibility  bankingeducation  oraltradition  plato  text  writing  memory  communication  justice  modernism  class  inequality  humility  zapatistas  comandantemarcos  parochialism  globalphilia  resistance  canon  gandhi  grassroots  hope  individuality  newness  sophistication  specialization  professionalization  dislocation  evolution  careerism  alienation  self-knowledge  schooling  schools  progress  power  victimization  slow  small 
may 2016 by robertogreco
Damn, You're Not Reading Any Books by White Men This Year? That's So Freakin Brave and Cool 
"On its own, the curve away from reading white male authors is extremely rewarding. And, as with pretty much everything that is rewarding in its own right—good sex, thoughtful cooking, giving your money away, spiritual practice (?), fitness (??), children (????)—the nature of the reward skews inherently private, evident only in its natural effects.

In other words, I get why you’d avoid reading 10:04 or what have you; I don’t understand why it’s ever more productive to say so than just to read something else and (omitting the part about your commitment to social justice) talk about that. Justification for obviously rewarding acts is always unnecessary, and in the case of reading “diverse” writers, the reward can be meaningfully deflated by the announcement of the act itself. The people most excited to say, “Uh, I’ve actually been reading a lot of Nigerian writers lately?” tend to be white people; the space taken up by being interested in one’s own Here’s Why I’m Only Reading X Minority Group project is often counterproductive to the point.

It’s easy for good ideas to get blurry, particularly when you factor in the internet, which allows people to huff good ideas over and over while looking in a mirror. So—to the good idea in question. The Year of Non-Supremacist Reading is pinned on true observations. The literary world is dominated by white writers and white voices, and to some degree, it’s a zero-sum game. There is only so much space on a bestseller list. In 2011, as documented by Roxane Gay, 655 out of 742 of the books featured in the New York Times book review section were written by white people; as recently as last summer, the Times released a reading list that was—remarkably—completely white."



"If only it were possible to do something good and rewarding without publicly prioritizing what effect that act has on you.

I think that these pieces, now, at the dawn of 2016, are dead in the water. I have yet to read a single one that does not arrive at and nearly reinforce the same conclusions that prompted it. We know that white male writers take up too much literary attention; the solution is not necessarily jamming everyone else into a bottle of social justice cough syrup, standing on a soap box, and gulping it all down.

Publicly announced diverse reading years seem akin to corporate diversity policies—showy and superficial fixes for deep problems, full of effort and essentialism that tends to only make things worse. Furthermore, the Specialized Reading Year may actually chip away at the promise of the better future we’re looking for—one in which certain writers are no longer seen as inherently special-interest, in which minority/women writers will no longer seen as writing about Identity when white/male writers get to write about Life.

And on that better future: if the Year of Reading Wokely is supposed to model a behavior that should be normalized—reading from a wide range of experiences, valuing what is under-represented—we might do well to understand that it’s already well within our power to normalize that behavior, which would not mean extensively discussing our reading habits or restricting them for self-improvement, but just purchasing, consuming, talking about the work.

We can do that. We already do that. We do not need essays about what reading a certain way taught us about prejudice (“it exists, and is realer than I could have imagined when I started”); we do not need writers who need no qualifications jammed over and over into “20 People of Color You Must Read in 2016.”

In these essays and on these lists, you’ll often find Americanah and Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie and her quote about “the danger of a single story” from that great, now-famous TED Talk. Adichie said:
The consequence of the single story is this: It robs people of dignity. It makes our recognition of our equal humanity difficult. It emphasizes how we are different rather than how we are similar.

The “I’m Only Reading No White Men For a Year” proclamations are starting to sound a bit much like this single story: the emphasis on difference, the boundaries reinforced rather than dissolved. If you were a queer writer, or a woman of color writer, would you want someone to read you because they thought they were doing something dutiful about power structures? Or because they gravitated to you, not out of any sense that you would teach them something about diversity that they could then write about in a year-end essay—but that they just read you because you were good?"
socialmedia  reward  posturing  2016  jiatolentino  altruism  charity  philanthropy  socialjustice  privategood  cooking  spirituality  race  gender  dogoodism  publicdisplay  presentationofself 
january 2016 by robertogreco
If you really want to make a difference Mark Zuckerberg, let go of your power | Global Development Professionals Network | The Guardian
"The Facebook CEO is the latest ‘philanthrocapitalist’ to try to make a better world. But when the rich meddle with development, can they ever disrupt the status quo?"



"Occupy would never have been funded by a large philanthropic organisation, but the spontaneous global movement is almost wholly responsible for putting the issue of inequality on the political map. Large private donors are prepared to fund technocratic causes, and in more enlightened cases – “democracy”, but they’re not prepared to relinquish power and control themselves. In fact, they only serve to concentrate power further into an increasingly narrower set of ideas about how change happens.

For example, the Gates Foundation makes a decision about vaccines and requires governments to match fund the donation to access it. Those governments then have to choose between saying no to funding for vaccinating, or diverting funds from something else, such as public health or education. Gates made the de facto decision for that government. His new agricultural alliance was similarly defined: bring together large agri-business and government to improve agriculture in Africa on a technology-rich, large-land-holder led platform. Green agro-ecology approaches, despite having been proving significant success in the region where it has been applied, get sidelined.

Parmar sees this as even more sinister. “There are other priorities other than those that are publicly stated – increasing the level of power, through increasing their networks in non-western countries,” he says.

The funding arena has become increasingly narrow, focused on issues like health or education. Very few focus on voice, power or challenging the mainstream. Anyone who has filled out long funding application forms, struggling to come up with short-term targets and outcomes, will have felt the limits of the donor relationship. Indeed, most foundations are now more focused on “value for money” than ever before, in spite of the fact that development is complex, and attribution for success can’t usually be ascribed to any one intervention.

Coupled with the trend towards governments limiting the ability of charities or grassroots organisations to campaign in many parts of the world – from India to China, and increasingly on western shores – development NGOs, enabled by the funding community, are at risk of becoming little more than contract agencies who deliver basic public services while further entrenching a system of inequality and divisions. If governments are stripping citizens’ rights, if communities are divided, if resources are extracted only to benefit the wealthy elite, then we will be aiding and abetting the status quo, leading to a shrinking and less vibrant civil society in the long run. And a less vibrant and agile civil society signals a reduction in long-term development for the many. “Is there a model of power and development which is more focused on local concerns through local participation itself?” asks Parmar.

A powerful letter written by Jessie Spector, the executive director of Resource Generation, urges Zuckerberg to let go of power and to fund root causes. In an ideal world, Zuckerberg never would have been allowed to accrue this much wealth and dictate how it would be spent. But in the world of realpolitik, I would take Spector’s recommendations further, and say to Zuckerberg: set up an independent entity; don’t sit on the board; set some guidelines about tackling root causes like corporate power or tax justice; ensure smaller organisations have access to the funds without jumping through excessive hoops; make sure it’s governed openly by a broad group of stakeholders, representing gender, race, class, none of whom can sit on the board indefinitely and finally, agree to relinquish control. Only then can Zuckerberg truly begin to make a positive difference with his wealth and dent the power dynamics that dominate the funding community."
deborahdane  philanthropy  philanthrocapitalism  inequality  democracy  wealth  2016  markzuckerberg  georgesoros  billgates  power  control  influence  jessiespector  gatesfoundation  charity  charitableindustrialcomplex  robberbarrons  philanthropicindustrialcomplex  capitalism 
january 2016 by robertogreco
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
Top Ed-Tech Trends of 2015: The Business of Ed-Tech
"Beyond VC Funding

“US education is a $1.5 trillion industry and growing at 5 percent annually,” McKinsey wrote excitedly this summer. Of course, venture capital is just one source of the money that’s pouring into ed-tech. There’s government funding, of course. There’s personal spending. And there’s lots and lots of “philanthropy.”

The Gates Foundation is perhaps the most famous of these philanthropic organizations, having spent billions of dollars pushing various education initiatives. In October, Bill Gates gave what Education Week observed was “his first major speech on education in seven years,” and indicated his foundation would “double down” on teacher preparation and common academic standards.

The other two giants in education foundations: the Eli and Edythe Broad Foundation and the Walton Family Foundation.

In September, the LA Times obtained a memo written by the Broad Foundation, outlining its $490 million plan to put half of LAUSD students in charter schools. The memo “lays out a strategy for moving forward, including how to raise money, recruit and train teachers, provide outreach to parents and navigate the political battle that will probably ensue.” It cites several large foundations and California multi-millions who could be tapped for more financial support.

[image: @EdSurge tweet: “Melinda Gates is saying that the role of foundations is to direct where government funding goes #GatesEd"]

And this underscores one of the major criticisms of these philanthropic efforts: they are profoundly anti-democratic. As John Cassidy wrote in The New Yorker earlier this month, “people like Zuckerberg and Gates, by virtue of their philanthropic efforts, can have a much bigger say in determining policy outcomes than ordinary citizens can.”

Zuckerberg’s name is next to Gates’ in that sentence because he has signed the “Giving Pledge,” Gates’ and fellow billionaire Warren Buffet’s challenge to the 1% to give away at least half of their wealth. After the birth of his daughter this fall, Zuckerberg and his wife Priscilla Chan wrote her a letter (and posted it on Facebook, of course). In covering the contents of the letter, the New York Times got the headline totally wrong: “Mark Zuckerberg Vows to Donate 99% of His Facebook Shares for Charity.” The paper later clarified that it’s not a charity but an LLC – a “$45 billion tax loophole,” some suggested. Headlines from Gawker: “Mark Zuckerberg Will Donate Massive Fortune to Own Blinkered Worldview.” And from Rolin Moe: “You’re Not an Asshole, Mark Zuckerberg. You’re Just Wrong..”

Among the projects that the new Zuckerberg Chan Initiative will fund: “personalized learning” (whatever the hell that means).

Zuckerberg’s interest in such a thing is no doubt connected to investments that he’s already made – in the private school AltSchool, for example. And in September, Facebook announced that it had been working on building software for the Summit charter school chain. “Facebook’s move into education may be unexpected, but it seems to be sincere,” wrote The Verge’s Casey Newton about the collaboration in an article that’s not much more than a “longform expanded version of the Facebook press release.”

Joining Gates and Zuckerberg in venture philanthropy is Laurene Powell Jobs, Steve Jobs’ widow. Her organization, the Emerson Collective, announced a campaign – XQ: The Super School Project – to get folks to “rethink high school.” 5 of the “best ideas” will receive a share of the $50 million Jobs has earmarked for the project. The Emerson Collective also invested in AltSchool and Udacity this year to give you an idea of what “best ideas” might look like.

“I can conceive of no greater mistake… than that of trying to make charity do the work of justice” – William Jewett Tucker"



"All the Best Ed-Tech Narratives Money Can Buy

All this business. All this disruptive innovation. It’s just magnific… Wait, what? Academic research challenging Clayton Christensen’s famous business school concept outlined in The Innovator’s Dilemma and applied to education in Disrupting Class and The Innovative University and invoked by just about every ed-tech entrepreneur and investor ever? Oh yes please.

Jill Lepore had already skewered the idea in The New Yorker last year. I wrote a little something on the topic back in 2013.

But now, as The Chronicle of Education wrote in September,
a new paper, the most extensive test yet of Christensen’s theory, may prove more difficult to dismiss. Andrew A. King, a professor at the Dartmouth College business school, and Baljir Baatartogtokh, a graduate student at the University of British Columbia, spent two years digging into disruption, interviewing scores of experts, trying to determine whether 77 of Christensen’s own examples conformed to his theory, studies involving big names like Ford, McDonald’s, and Google, along with lesser-known makers of blood-glucose meters and blended plastics. Only a tiny minority – 9 percent – fit Christensen’s criteria. Disruption is real but rare, King and Baatartogtokh conclude, which suggests that it’s at best a marginally useful explanation of how innovation happens.

King says he’s not out to take down Christensen, although that may be what he’s done. Instead, he wants to prove a point. “A theory is like a weed,” King says. “Unless it is pruned back by empirical testing, it will grow to fill any void.”

Much like the business of ed-tech…"
philanthropy  philanthrocapitalism  capitalism  siliconvalley  audreywatters  2015  edtech  education  charities  charitableindustrialcomplex  corruption  policy  billgates  gatesfoundation  facebook  markzuckerberg  priscillachan  power  influence  democracy  melindagates  williamjewett  charity  justice  technology  johncassidy  rolinmoe  zuckerbergchaninitiative  broadfoundation  elibroad  altschool  summitcharterschools  udacity  emersoncollective  venturephilanthropy  vc  disruption  disruptiveinnovation  innovation  claytonchristensen  andrewking  baljirbaatartogtokh  philanthropicindustrialcomplex  control  charterschools 
december 2015 by robertogreco
You’re Not an Asshole, Mark Zuckerberg. You’re Just Wrong. |
"Why is it problematic when a businessman pledges to donate 99% of his personal shares in company stock (valued close to $45 billion) to philanthropy?

The popular argument against Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg’s display of altruism is that it is not a charitable donation; by the letter of the law he is funding a LLC, Chan Zuckerberg Initiative, rather than a 501(c)(3). This means the activities *for the public good* will include private investment and policy debates, activities not allowed under the legal jurisdiction of non-profit status. This has been called philanthrocapitalism, tax-efficient generosity that allows the richest Americans greater latitude in which to use their finances for ideological purposes.

The argument for such legal maneuvering of philanthropic endeavors is pragmatic; there is longstanding, government-rewarded benefit in establishing a for-profit mechanism within a donation initiative. These benefits are usually addressed as opportunities to react to changing landscapes and partnership needs working between organizations and governments, which under charitable trusts is not as nimble as it is for an organization unencumbered by tax-exempt status. Whereas there is a gravitas toward the Annenberg Foundation or the Hewlett Foundation as patriarchs of domestic and international philanthropic efforts, part of their infrastructure is an inability to pivot their strategy. Chan Zuckerberg Initiative will not find its aims beholden to a singular mission; this makes them different from groups such as Riordan Foundation funding SMART Boards as evidence of scholastic merit despite ample evidence to the contrary. They can adapt, change, innovate.

I trust Mark Zuckerberg’s purpose for this movement is principled more than it is pragmatic. I find the LLC vs 501(c)(3) argument a straw man one as well; there are many ways he can use the money, many ways he can use the money in what we call a charitable fashion. The LLC in and of itself is not evidence of nefarious plans, nor is announcing a donation of 99% of his wealth to bettering the public good.

I have gone out of my way to not refer to the pledge of $45 billion as charity or philanthropy, however. While his intentions may be for the public good, they as misguided and harmful. Moreover, it is indicative of social and cultural erosion, showing a social structure where monetary success is not only more important than field-specific expertise but it purports the wealthy to an illusory status of Renaissance Men, their successes not narrow but holistic evidence to solve the problems of All Others.

John Cassidy’s critique in the New Yorker goes out of its way to steer clear of education debates, but Zuckerberg’s history as a donor to education reform is quite germane to the discussion. In America, access to quality education is promoted as an inalienable right. Education has long existed as a social structure, evidence to how our society views its purpose. Efforts to improve student achievement are going to be bound in equity and access. I struggle to think about student achievement conversations where we require charity or philanthropy in order for all citizens to have equal access to their inalienable right. When Zuckerberg gave $100 million to Newark Public Schools, it was a strings-attached political donation, not charity. Improving student achievement took a backseat to the politics of merit pay and consultancies for new bureaucratic management. This is not surprising; historically, merit pay and administrative overhead do not improve student achievement.

What does improve student achievement? The financial situation at home. Caroline Hoxby of the Hoover Institution, a conservative think tank, notes the most efficacious way to improve the outcomes of the lowest income students is to put money in the pockets of their parents. The United States as a society does not believe in direct wealth redistribution, however, so our distribution metrics are almost entirely geared toward education services. Hoxby argues that the schools receiving these distributions are flawed and charter schools are the solution, which is where I disagree — if family finances are the most compelling indicator of success, then the efforts at school are always going to be secondary, no matter how efficacious the school experience.

The past solutions and future reform thinking presented by Mark Zuckerberg does not involve income redistribution or even support services beyond school walls. Most likely, Chan Zuckerberg Initiative will develop more structures and systems that can function independent of the educational infrastructure. Mark Zuckerberg’s public statements on education reform support merit pay and personalized learning, contentious ideas considered discredited by many. The genesis of both beliefs are evident within the start-up culture that fostered Facebook, where meritocracy reigns supreme and *coding* can do as much for human equity as government. In the world of Mark Zuckerberg, supporting these missions with wealth and political force is not only sensible but an obligatory service to the public good.

The libertarian dreamscape of start-up culture does not, however, fiat to the bureaucratic labyrinth of education. Charter schools have not circumvented governmental obstacles, and early forays into technosolutionism have fallen flat. If governance is inextricable from education (a notion supported from the Enlightenment to today), any effort to avoid its shadow is doomed. To argue that education is not a public good could create space for the success of such efforts, but the purpose of philanthropy such as the Chan Zuckerberg Initiative is marketed as service to the public good.

The best provision for positively influencing the education system is to provide for it through established, research-solidified channels. That means trusting the experts and using the leverage that comes with $45 billion to support multiple existing systems rather than building multiple new ones. But the ethos of Silicon Valley is to fail fast and to Fail Better, which is fine for privately traded companies made up of wealthy employees but a terrible framework to put on a social superstructure that has promised since the Enlightenment to be humanity’s conduit for upward mobility and social justice. It is not in the public good for schools to fail fast and Fail Better. In Silicon Valley it is okay for Udacity to fail with its SJSU roll-out or for Facebook to fail with its Newark Public Schools roll-out. These are companies with venture capital to cushion the hiccups, and even if the failure led to the end of the company, society only loses an instance of software-as-a-service. When the educational experience at SJSU turns out worse because of Udacity, or Newark Public Schools go through tremendous upheaval for no discernible benefit thanks to Facebook, our culture loses much more than the money it cost to put on the failed initiative. No matter the talk of learning from mistakes or doing better, the system has yet again failed, and the structure in place to mitigate that failure and was circumvented is left to glue the pieces back together. The students in these classrooms incubation labs have been failed to a significant degree, more so than any Fail Better rhetoric can fix.

The creation of Chan Zuckerberg Initiative, LLC, is a protection mechanism. Most writing has focused on how it protects the financial portfolio of the Zuckerberg family, but the real protection is of their philanthropic legacy. They can talk about the public good and act by pushing money and policy toward ideology and push-button solutions, apologizing when its results are not as intended and promising to do better with the rest of the billions. The right decisions for the legacy of the philanthropist do not become the right policies for the philanthropy because they were borne of good intentions. There is an inherent flawed logic to the idea that saving the world is a private enterprise."
markzuckerberg  policy  power  politics  influence  democracy  2015  philanthrocapitalism  charity  charities  charitableindustrialcomplex  philanthropy  society  us  rolinmoe  johncassidy  priscillachan  facebook  udacity  education  publicgood  publicpolicy  philanthropicindustrialcomplex  capitalism  control 
december 2015 by robertogreco
Mark Zuckerberg and the Rise of Philanthrocapitalism - The New Yorker
"The announcement, on Tuesday, by Mark Zuckerberg and his wife, Priscilla Chan, that, during their lifetimes, they will donate to philanthropic causes roughly ninety-nine per cent of their Facebook stock, which is currently valued at close to forty-five billion dollars, has already prompted a lot of comment, much of it positive. That is understandable. The fact that Zuckerberg, Bill Gates, Warren Buffett, and a number of other billionaires are pledging their fortunes to charity rather than seeking to pass them down to their descendants is already having an impact.

Last year, the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, which was founded in 2000, dispensed almost four billion dollars in grants. A big slug of this money went toward fighting diseases like H.I.V., malaria, polio, and tuberculosis, which kill millions of people in poor countries. Zuckerberg and Chan have also already donated hundreds of millions of dollars to various causes, including eradicating the Ebola virus. In their latest announcement, which they presented as an open letter to their newborn daughter, on Zuckerberg’s Facebook page, they said that the Chan Zuckerberg Initiative, the new philanthropic organization that they are setting up, would focus on “advancing human potential and promoting equality.”

It’s not just the size of the donations that the wealthy are making that demands attention, though. Charitable giving on this scale makes modern capitalism, with all of its inequalities and injustices, seem somewhat more defensible. Having created hugely successful companies that have generated almost unimaginable wealth, Zuckerberg, Gates, and Buffett are sending a powerful message to Wall Street hedge-fund managers, Russian oligarchs, European industrialists, Arab oil sheiks, and anybody else who has accumulated a vast fortune: “From those to whom much is given, much is expected.”

Speaking at Harvard in 2007, Gates attributed this quotation to his dying mother. (A slightly different version of it appears in St. Luke’s gospel.) In 2010, Gates and Buffett challenged fellow members of the ultra-rich club to give away at least half of their wealth. Since then, more than a hundred billionaires have signed the “Giving Pledge.” Some of these mega-donors, such as Buffett, are content to let others direct their donations. (In 2006, he signed over much of his fortune to the Gates Foundation.) Increasingly, however, wealthy people are setting up their own philanthropic organizations and pursuing their own causes—a phenomenon that has been called “philanthrocapitalism.”

That is the positive side. It is also worth noting, however, that all of this charitable giving comes at a cost to the taxpayer and, arguably, to the broader democratic process. If Zuckerberg and Chan were to cash in their Facebook stock, rather than setting it aside for charity, they would have to pay capital-gains tax on the proceeds, money that could be used to fund government programs. If they willed their wealth to their descendants, then sizable estate taxes would become due on their deaths. By making charitable donations in the form of stock, they, and their heirs, could escape both of these levies.

The size and timing of the tax benefits to Zuckerberg and Chan are uncertain, but they are likely to be large. In the initial version of this post, based on the open letter Zuckerberg and Chan posted on his Facebook page, and on the opinions of several tax experts, I said that the couple, in donating stock to the new philanthropic organization, would gain immediate tax credits equal to the market value of the stock, some of which could be rolled over into future tax years. Typically, that is what happens when a rich person donates stock to a family foundation or to certain types of L.L.C.s constituted for philanthropic purposes, such as ones owned by family foundations.

On Wednesday, in a follow-up post on Facebook, Zuckerberg provided more details about the couple’s plans. Evidently, the L.L.C. that he and Chan are setting up will not be seeking tax-exempt status. “By using an LLC instead of a traditional foundation, we receive no tax benefit from transferring our shares to the Chan Zuckerberg Initiative, but we gain flexibility to execute our mission more effectively,” Zuckerberg wrote. “In fact, if we transferred our shares to a traditional foundation, then we would have received an immediate tax benefit, but by using an LLC we do not.”

Even if the Chan Zuckerberg Initiative doesn’t obtain tax-exempt status, over time its activities will most likely have a big impact on the taxes its founders pay. The I.R.S. treats ordinary L.L.C.s as “pass-through” structures, and shifting financial assets to such entities doesn’t usually generate any immediate credits or liabilities. But whenever the Chan Zuckerberg Initiative issues grants to nonprofit organizations, it will almost certainly do so by donating some of its Facebook stock, and that will generate tax credits for Zuckerberg and Chan equal to the market value of the stock at that time. As the years go by and the Initiative steps up its charitable activities, these credits seem likely to add up to very large sums.

Unlike a regular family foundation, the L.L.C. may also generate some tax liabilities for Zuckerberg and Chan. If it invested in a commercial enterprise, such as an online-learning company, taxes would be owed on any profits the investment generated. And if, as Zuckerberg also pointed out, the L.L.C. sold some of the Facebook shares that he and Chan have donated to it, they would have to pay capital-gains taxes on the proceeds. But since the couple will control the L.L.C., they will be able to decide how it finances itself, and whether it sells any stock.”

If what Zuckerberg is doing were an isolated example, it wouldn’t matter much for over-all tax revenues. But the practice is spreading at a time when the distribution of wealth is getting ever more lopsided, which means the actions of a small number of very rich people can have a bigger impact. In 2012, according to

By transferring almost all of their fortunes to philanthropic organizations, billionaires like Zuckerberg and Gates are placing some very large chunks of wealth permanently outside the reaches of the Internal Revenue Service. That means the country’s tax base shrinks. As yet, I haven’t seen any estimates of the over-all cost to the Treasury, but it’s an issue that can’t be avoided. And it raises the broader question, which the economists Thomas Piketty and Anthony Atkinson, among others, have raised, of whether we need a more comprehensive tax on wealth.

Arguably, there is another issue at stake, too: democracy.

Although organizations like the Gates Foundation portray themselves as apolitical, nonpartisan entities, they aren’t completely removed from politics. Far from it. The Gates Foundation, for example, has been a big financial supporter of charter schools, standardized testing, and the Common Core. (It has also given some money to public schools.) Zuckerberg, too, has also provided a lot of money to charter schools. They featured prominently in his costly and controversial effort to reform the public-school system in Newark, New Jersey, which Dale Russakoff wrote about in the magazine last year. In the letter posted on Facebook, Zuckerberg signalled that he isn’t done with such efforts. “We must participate in policy and advocacy to shape debates,” the letter said. “Many institutions are unwilling to do this, but progress must be supported by movements to be sustainable.”

My intention, here, isn’t to enter the education debate. It is simply to point out what should be obvious: people like Zuckerberg and Gates, by virtue of their philanthropic efforts, can have a much bigger say in determining policy outcomes than ordinary citizens can. (As Matthew Yglesias pointed out on Vox, one of the advantages of registering the Chan Zuckerberg Initiative as an L.L.C. is that it can spend money on political ads.) The more money billionaires give to their charitable foundations, which in most cases remain under their personal control, the more influence they will accumulate. And relatively speaking, anyway, the less influence everybody else will have.

Some Americans—not all of them disciples of Ayn Rand—might say that this is a good thing. I have already cited some of the Gates Foundation’s good works. Isn’t Michael Bloomberg, with his efforts to reform gun laws, promoting the public interest? Isn’t George Soros, through his donations to civil-rights organizations, lining up on the side of the angels? In these two instances, my own answers would be yes and yes; but the broader point stands. The divide between philanthropy and politics is already fuzzy. As the “philanthrocapitalism” movement gets bigger, this line will be increasingly hard to discern.

So by all means, let us praise Zuckerberg and Chan for their generosity. And let us also salute Gates, who started the trend. But contrary to the old saying, this is one gift horse we should look closely in the mouth."

[via: http://hackeducation.com/2015/12/23/trends-business/ ]
philanthrocapitalism  charitableindustrialcomplex  2015  facebook  markzuckerberg  johncassidy  philanthropy  influence  corruption  democracy  power  charity  capitalism  gatesfoundation  taxes  billgates  thomaspiketty  inequality  anthonyatkinson  dalerussakoff  newjersey  education  michaelbloomberg  georgesoros  priscillachan  warrenbuffett  policy  politics  philanthropicindustrialcomplex  control 
december 2015 by robertogreco
The Philanthropy Hustle | Jacobin
"Management scholars and investors champion the growth of charitable giving to corporations with terms like “philanthrocapitalism” and “shared value,” claiming with a nod to Adam Smith that market expansion is a naturally philanthropic process, contributing to rising living standards globally, and therefore tax-exempt gifts to wealthy companies shouldn’t be questioned but wholeheartedly embraced.

Business executives point enthusiastically to the “blurred” line between for-profit and nonprofit activities in order to justify the growing charity they receive.

“There are shifts in the world that are creating a much more sincere conversation between the development community, NGOs, governments, for-profits and the academy,” Walt Macnee, vice chairman at Mastercard, commented to media after receiving the Gates Foundation grant. “Corporations like ours understand we are all in this together.”

The rhetoric of Davos elites — overly confident ted Heads who descend on global summits proclaiming that the “revolutionary” rise of a new, market-driven, for-profit philanthropy will end poverty altogether isn’t new. During the mid-twentieth century, the belief that private interests inevitably yield public rewards was encompassed in a remark by the former General Motors CEO Charles Wilson, who claimed that what’s “good for the country was good for General Motors and vice versa.”

Long derided as an exemplar of unbridled CEO hubris, in reality Wilson uttered the remark in a regretful manner during a confirmation hearing after his nomination as US Secretary of Defense. Asked about his competing roles as a business leader and an elected official, he said “for years I thought what was good for the country was good for General Motors and vice versa.”

Such humility is absent from the rhetoric of today’s TED talkers: self-professed revolutionaries who parrot a super-charged version of Wilson’s conflation of private and public interest — what’s good for the next online education tech start-up is obviously good for American students and their counterparts across their globe.

Contrary to the conventional wealth-creation narrative, large multinationals are increasingly assuming less financial risk when it comes to investing their own capital — even as they reap excessive financial rewards by exploiting subsidies from the public sector and philanthropic foundations. Companies like Mastercard are just as bullish and self-satisfied about the charity they receive as the charity they give away.

But challenging the new corporate charity claimants will not, alone, mitigate the unrivalled power of large philanthropic funders to frame the terms of debate in the fields of education, health and global poverty or shape the policies of institutions such as the WHO.

Over a century ago, when Andrew Carnegie published his first “Wealth” essay suggesting that private philanthropy would solve the problem of rich and poor, he was met with fierce rebuke. “I can conceive of no greater mistake,” commented William Jewett Tucker, a theologian who went on to become president of Dartmouth College, “than that of trying to make charity do the work of justice.”

Today’s philanthrocrats share Carnegie’s gospel of wealth. To take back the mantle of justice and equality, the Left must delegitimize private foundations and refute the centrality of charity in solving the world’s most pressing problems."

[via: http://hackeducation.com/2015/12/23/trends-business/ ]
2015  charitableindustrialcomplex  philanthropy  economics  inequality  charity  linseymcgoey  philanthrocapitalism  capitalism  gatesfoundation  billgates  influence  corruption  policy  power  politics  democracy  philanthropicindustrialcomplex  control 
december 2015 by robertogreco
I spent a weekend at Google talking with nerds about charity. I came away … worried. - Vox
"To be fair, the AI folks weren't the only game in town. Another group emphasized "meta-charity," or giving to and working for effective altruist groups. The idea is that more good can be done if effective altruists try to expand the movement and get more people on board than if they focus on first-order projects like fighting poverty.

This is obviously true to an extent. There's a reason that charities buy ads. But ultimately you have to stop being meta. As Jeff Kaufman — a developer in Cambridge who's famous among effective altruists for, along with his wife Julia Wise, donating half their household's income to effective charities — argued in a talk about why global poverty should be a major focus, if you take meta-charity too far, you get a movement that's really good at expanding itself but not necessarily good at actually helping people.

And you have to do meta-charity well — and the more EA grows obsessed with AI, the harder it is to do that. The movement has a very real demographic problem, which contributes to very real intellectual blinders of the kind that give rise to the AI obsession. And it's hard to imagine that yoking EA to one of the whitest and most male fields (tech) and academic subjects (computer science) will do much to bring more people from diverse backgrounds into the fold.

The self-congratulatory tone of the event didn't help matters either. I physically recoiled during the introductory session when Kerry Vaughan, one of the event's organizers, declared, "I really do believe that effective altruism could be the last social movement we ever need." In the annals of sentences that could only be said with a straight face by white men, that one might take the cake.

Effective altruism is a useful framework for thinking through how to do good through one's career, or through political advocacy, or through charitable giving. It is not a replacement for movements through which marginalized peoples seek their own liberation. If EA is to have any hope of getting more buy-in from women and people of color, it has to at least acknowledge that."
charity  philanthropy  ethics  2015  altruism  dylanmatthews  google  siliconvalley  ai  artificialintelligence 
november 2015 by robertogreco
Silicon Valley’s New Philanthropy - The New York Times
"THE enduring credo of Silicon Valley is that innovation, not money, is its guiding purpose and that world-changing technology is its true measure of worth.

Wealth is treated as a pleasant byproduct, a bit like weight loss after rugged adventure travel.

The tech world is home to some of the planet’s wealthiest entrepreneurs and most dynamic philanthropists, 21st-century heirs to Carnegie and Rockefeller who say they can apply the same ingenuity and zeal that made them rich to making the rest of the world less poor. San Francisco also has one of the highest levels of income inequality in the nation, with the wealth distortion most concentrated among the very people who are driving the economy as a whole.

A similar paradox seeps into philanthropy. Tech entrepreneurs believe their charitable giving is bolder, bigger and more data-driven than anywhere else — and in many ways it is. But despite their flair for disruption, these philanthropists are no more interested in radical change than their more conservative predecessors. They don’t lobby for the redistribution of wealth; instead, they see poverty and inequality as an engineering problem, and the solution is their own brain power, not a tithe.

As Marc Andreessen, the venture capitalist and philanthropist who invested in, among other things, Twitter and Airbnb, put it in a Twitter post: “Thanks to Airbnb, now anyone with a house or apartment can offer a room for rent. Hence, income inequality reduced.”

Increasingly, though, idealistic tech leaders find themselves giving back to a world that complains that they took too much in the first place. The skepticism is all the more wounding because some tech luminaries ardently believe their businesses can solve social ills."



"But second-guessing in Silicon Valley is a pesky inevitability. As Mark Zuckerberg, the chief executive of Facebook, put it at a Vanity Fair tech conference in San Francisco in October, “Basically, everything impactful you want to do has some controversy.”

In Silicon Valley, there is pious disdain for Wall Street’s showy, status-seeking ways of giving. “The primary reason my wife and I give to charity is to accomplish some change in the world,” said Elie Hassenfeld, who quit his job at a hedge fund to help create GiveWell, a San Francisco-based charity-evaluating service that guides the philanthropical choices of, among others, Dustin Moskovitz, one of the founders of Facebook. “We don’t attend galas or give to my alma mater.”

Those may not be such big distinctions. “There is a bit of delusion in Silicon Valley that they are not like the other rich because their technology is ‘making the world a better place,’ ” said Steve Hilton, a former aide to Prime Minister David Cameron of Britain and a co-founder of Crowdpac.com, a political start-up. “But McDonald’s and Walmart also think that their businesses help society. Walmart says it lowers the cost of living for poor families. All corporations think they are having a positive impact.”"



"“The techno-utopianism of hackers has already transformed our lives,” Mr. Parker wrote. “But the greatest contribution that hackers make to society may be yet to come — if we are willing to retain the intellectual and creative spirit that got us this far.”

Bay Area nonprofits pride themselves on efficiency and “scalability,” applying sophisticated metrics to assess the success of social programs. Give Directly, for example, is a charity that uses cellphones to give unconditional cash transfers to poor people in Africa without government bureaucracy, corruption or costly overhead. The program relied on a 2013 study in rural Kenya that used satellites to distinguish thatched roofs from tin ones, because villagers with thatched roofs are poorer. It also monitored how the income was spent and even how it made recipients feel: the villagers’ saliva was collected to see if their cortisol levels decreased, a sign of reduced stress. The report concludes: “We document a 0.19SD increase in happiness.”

Back home, happiness is in the eye of the beholder. “There’s a lot of giving and impact investment and caring, but those people are not looking to change the fundamental rules of how power operates,” said Michael Gast, a consultant for social justice nonprofits in Oakland.

The disaffection isn’t merely manifested in a few protesters blocking Google shuttle buses or in Tesla-hating, or in labor unions fighting the “sharing economy.” Nor is it just the economists who complain that tech companies like Google and Facebook are monopolies — the Standard Oils of the moment.

Academics and relief workers have been grumbling for a while about so-called philanthrocapitalists who try to micromanage their giving. The writer David Rieff questions the tech-centric approach to fighting global poverty of the Gates Foundation in a new book, “The Reproach of Hunger.” In “The Prize,” the journalist Dale Russakoff looks at what went wrong with Mr. Zuckerberg’s $100 million gift to Newark to resurrect its schools.

And the transformative power of Silicon Valley is slapped down by one of its own in “Geek Heresy: Rescuing Social Change From the Cult of Technology,” written by a Microsoft apostate, Kentaro Toyama.

Rob Reich, a political-science professor at Stanford who is also a co-director of the Stanford Center for Philanthropy and Civil Society, notes that the tax deduction that comes with a billionaire’s grant to charter schools is essentially money that won’t be spent on public schools, calling Silicon Valley largess “an exercise of power that is unaccountable, nontransparent and tax-subsidized.”

While tech titans champion efforts to strengthen the social safety net for the most disadvantaged, many express less concern for the stagnating middle class. Alec Ross, who was an innovation adviser to Hillary Rodham Clinton when she was secretary of state and is the author of “The Industries of the Future,” notes that entrepreneurs privately complain about workers, skilled and unskilled, who haven’t kept pace with the new tech-based economy.

“You hear derision for the working- and middle-class people who think that their education ends at the age of 22,” Mr. Ross said. “People who want their work to stay the same without doing anything to improve themselves.”

Nor is there much talk in these circles about taxing the rich to even the playing field. A few tech billionaires like Reed Hastings, a Netflix founder, have said they support raising taxes on the wealthy. There are many more who don’t publicly oppose a tax increase but feel they are paying plenty already. There is also a libertarian streak in parts of Silicon Valley that allows some to believe they can spend their tax dollars better than the government ever will.

There are, of course, some in Silicon Valley who blend tech savoir faire with old-school Carnegie-style philanthropy."
philanthropy  2015  siliconvalley  technolosolutionism  charity  nonprofits  inequality  middleclass  marbenioff  marcandreesen  marksukerberg  billgates  gatesfoundation  wallstreet  seanparker  economics  taxes  taxation  robreich  nonprofit 
november 2015 by robertogreco
David Geffen's $100 million gift to UCLA is philanthropy at its absolute worst - Vox
"Music mogul David Geffen is very, very bad at being a philanthropist. His past donations have mostly taken the form of massive gifts to prominent universities and cultural institutions, rather than to poor people or important research or even less famous, more financially desperate universities and arts centers. And his charitable giving usually comes with a major branding component. This past March, he committed $100 million to renovate a concert hall at Lincoln Center — but only after the center paid $15 million to the family of Avery Fisher, the hall's former namesake, so that Geffen could have his name plastered on it. It's like renaming a sports stadium, except that Geffen gets a massive tax write-off for it.

But his latest gift really takes the cake. Geffen is giving $100 million to UCLA to set up a private middle and high school on its campus. You see, the UCLA Lab School only serves students — many of them faculty brats — up to the sixth grade, and poor old UCLA has "not been able to attract certain talent because of the costs of educating their children." In particular, Geffen worries that UCLA's medical school — excuse me, the David Geffen School of Medicine at UCLA — isn't able to compete with Harvard and Johns Hopkins because of the lack of a nearby private high school.

The LA Times's Larry Gordon adds that Geffen "declined to discuss his views on public education in Los Angeles." You don't say.

Geffen might as well have just set $100 million on fire

It's hard to know where to start in explaining why this gift is such a grotesque waste. For one thing, it genuinely doesn't matter to anyone without a sentimental attachment to UCLA whether its medical school is competitive with Harvard and Johns Hopkins. The faculty members that Geffen is trying to recruit away are certainly doing important research that will save lives — but they're doing it wherever they teach. Why should anyone care whether that happens at UCLA or at Johns Hopkins? Unless one genuinely believes that the climate of southern California can effect a meaningful boost in the productivity of biomedical researchers, relative to Baltimore or Cambridge, improved recruitment for UCLA accomplishes precisely nothing for the world at large.

But at least the faculty brats will get a free education, right? Other than the existing free education they could get by enrolling their children in the LA public school system? Nope! The education won't be free. "Many details about the school remain to be decided, including tuition and admissions criteria," Gordon reports, but half of the school's 600 students will be children of UCLA employees, and about 40 percent of students will get financial aid. So even if nobody gets tuition assistance except UCLA faculty, a fifth of the faculty kids who get educated at the school will pay full freight. Their parents will benefit not in financial terms but through improved convenience. The problem being solved isn't that other private schools are too expensive; it's that they make it too hard to pick up and drop off kids.

It's worse than that, though. Gordon writes that UCLA employees already have a convenient, free option: "A special agreement with the Los Angeles Unified School District allows children of UCLA professors and other employees to attend several well-regarded public schools in and near Westwood, no matter where they live." The city government has gone out of its way to give UCLA faculty access to good, conveniently located public schools. But that's not enough for David Geffen, for some reason.

The only rationale for the school that has even the patina of plausibility is the claim by UCLA chancellor Gene Block to Gordon that it will provide a place for UCLA's education school to test different learning and teaching methods. That indeed sounds admirable. But you know where else UCLA education researchers can do that? The UCLA Community School, a public school that, unlike the Lab School or the new Geffen Academy, is able to test learning methods on children of diverse socioeconomic backgrounds. And while the Lab School can only test on students up to sixth grade, the Community School is K-12.

If David Geffen had a sincere interest in improving the quality of research on K-12 pedagogy, he would've given to the Community School, or perhaps paid for the establishment of a new school like that for UCLA or another school with top-tier education researchers. But Geffen does not, obviously, have any kind of sincere interest in improving research. He just wants to help a school with his name on it win a pissing match with Harvard and Johns Hopkins.

This is worse than not giving at all

That said, it doesn't seem particularly likely that investing in pedagogical research is the most cost-effective donation Geffen could make. Instead, he could give $100 million to distribute bednets in sub-Saharan Africa, a highly cost-effective way to save lives. He could give $100 million directly to poor people in Kenya and Uganda through GiveDirectly. He could give $100 million to deworming efforts that spare children ailments that can cause immense pain and poverty. He could give $100 million to the Open Philanthropy Project or the Gates Foundation or another group doing careful, rigorous work to determine the best ways to use charitable resources to make the world a better place. He could, in fact, do all of the above, because he's crazy stupid rich.

Instead he decided that what LA really needed was a new private school. "Yes, charity is better than no charity," Gawker's Hamilton Nolan writes in an excellent post on the Geffen gift. "But no, all charitable giving is not created equal." I'd go further than Nolan. This gift is actually worse than no charity. No charity at least doesn't actively undermine the LA public school system by encouraging affluent parents to defect from it — in particular affluent parents who are already being specially induced to put their kids in public school. Geffen is actively making education in Los Angeles worse because he wants the medical school named after him to rise in the US News rankings. It's indefensible.

VIDEO: Helping poverty is a better use of $100 million"
philanthropy  nonprofits  charitableindustrialcomplex  2015  davidgeffen  dylanmatthews  losangeles  schools  education  gatesfoundation  charity  us  money  ucla  uclalabschool  larrygordon  provateschools  independentschools  inequality  uclacommunityschool  philanthropicindustrialcomplex  nonprofit  capitalism  power  control 
november 2015 by robertogreco
The Best Gifts Don't Come With Lots of Strings Attached - Voice of San Diego
"One of my guilty pleasures on Sundays is reading the Modern Love column in The New York Times. It’s in the same section that has the wedding announcements. A while back I read a piece called “Swearing off the modern man.” It was written by a college student who dated a man who wasn’t connected to Twitter, Instagram or Facebook. She described how, unlike her other relationships that were chronicled online in a constant stream of witty posts and photos, it was deliciously old-fashioned because it was private.

That night I woke up at 2:30 a.m. thinking about how her story had a lot of parallels to modern philanthropy.

What struck me was how, in the rush to embrace technology (which always seems so seductive) or technology’s proxy (the next new thing), it’s easy to lose sight of strategies that have served us well for decades.

Older forms of formal philanthropy, and here I’m talking about philanthropy during the past century, involved donors of all types making grants or gifts to nonprofit causes because they believed in the work that was being carried out or needed to be done. In the case of larger gifts, that often meant a donor trusted the leader of an organization.

Their thinking was something like this: Joe Schmo’s been working in the trenches a long time. He’s smart and passionate about this issue and certainly knows more about it than I do. I want to support his organization because I trust him and believe they do good work.

Today, that rarely happens.

Instead, in our desire to “do good,” we go online to research what nonprofits we should contribute to and land on websites of charity rating agencies that instruct us to penalize organizations that they determine spend too much on administration. That leaves us second-guessing organizations we thought did good work and suddenly wagging fingers at them.

So what do we do? We confine our giving to the basics, restricting our gifts for specific purposes to prevent the organization from using any of our money for admin.

Imagine if your boss said, “I’ll let you use your paycheck for clothes, food, rent and gas but don’t you dare spend a penny on anything else.” That, in essence, is what many of us do when we give to nonprofits. We restrict the ability of organizations to spend our money in a way that will best serve their mission.

Many of us are riding the wave of “donor-controlled philanthropy,” where donors of all types – big and small – want to determine exactly how their money will be spent before giving it away. The thinking goes that our money should be dedicated for specific programs that help real people or make real things happen, and not for superfluous things like administrative or overhead expenses.

The problem is that many people don’t stop to think about how nonprofits operate. It’s really quite simple: Just like every other organization on the planet, good nonprofits must have a strong administrative backbone to support the mission-driven activities they offer. That means they need money for things like computer hardware and software, staff to handle human resources and accounting, for organizational and strategic planning, and so on.

According to GuideStar, a renowned institution that collects and disseminates information on every nonprofit registered with the IRS, “it is relatively rare to find an organization that over-invests in administrative expenses.”

The second thing that’s important to know about nonprofit work is this: Serving people isn’t exactly like serving burgers. Success isn’t necessarily measured by the number of people assisted but by the results achieved from the service provided (and, yes, evaluation is considered to be an administrative cost).

Evaluation is tricky. For example, if 200 kids participate in a gang prevention program, does that mean it’s a success? If a veteran’s service organization finds more homeless vets on the street this year than last, does that mean it was unsuccessful? If a theater doesn’t sell out a show, does that mean the play or performance was bad? If researchers dedicate years to finding a cure for a disease do we consider their efforts to be futile or do they hold promise?

The types of issues and problems that nonprofit organizations tackle are complex by their very nature. And although there have been some recent isolated attempts to profit from or commodify these activities (see philanthrocapitalism), for the most part, nonprofit work is difficult and unglamorous.

So during this season of gift-giving, let’s treat our contributions to nonprofits like real gifts. Let’s celebrate and appreciate the work that so many women and men do in our community and beyond to make the world a better place by believing in them and supporting them generously."
philanthropy  via:lizette  patlibby  charity  inequality  charitableindustrialcomplex  nonprofits  philanthropicindustrialcomplex  nonprofit  capitalism  power  control 
november 2015 by robertogreco
The Hypocrisy of ‘Helping’ the Poor - The New York Times
"EVERY so often, you hear grotesquely wealthy American chief executives announce in sanctimonious tones the intention to use their accumulated hundreds of millions, or billions, “to lift people out of poverty.” Sometimes they are referring to Africans, but sometimes they are referring to Americans. And here’s the funny thing about that: In most cases, they have made their fortunes by impoverishing whole American communities, having outsourced their manufacturing to China or India, Vietnam or Mexico.

Buried in a long story about corruption in China in The New York Times a couple of months ago was the astonishing fact that the era of “supercharged growth” over the past several decades had the effect of “lifting more than 600 million people out of poverty.” From handouts? From Habitat for Humanity? From the Clinton Global Initiative?

No, oddly enough, China has been enriched by American-supplied jobs, making most of the destined-for-the-dump merchandise you find on store shelves all over America, every piece of plastic you can name, as well as Apple products, Barbie dolls or Nike LeBron basketball shoes retailed in the United States for up to $320 a pair. “The uplifting of impoverished people” was one of the reasons Phil Knight, Nike’s co-founder, gave in 1998 for moving his factories out of the United States.

The Chinese success, helped by American investment, is perhaps not astonishing after all; it has coincided with a large number of Americans’ being put out of work and plunged into poverty.

In a wish to get to grips with local mystagogies and obfuscations I have spent the past three years traveling in the Deep South, usually on back roads, mainly in the smaller towns, in the same spirit of inquiry that vitalized me on journeys in China and Africa and elsewhere. Yes, I saw the magnolia blossoms, the battlefields of the Civil War, the antebellum mansions of superfluous amplitude; the catfish farms and the cotton fields and the blues bars; attended the gun shows and the church services and the football games.

But if there was one experience of the Deep South that stayed with me it was the sight of shutdown factories and towns with their hearts torn out of them, and few jobs. There are outsourcing stories all over America, but the effects are stark in the Deep South.

Take a Delta town such as Hollandale, Miss. Two years ago, the entire tax base of this community of around 3,500 was (so the now-deceased and much-mourned mayor Melvin Willis told me) less than $300,000. What the town had on hand to spend for police officers, firefighters, public works, outreach, welfare and town hall salaries was roughly the amount of a Bill or Hillary one-night-stand lecture fee; what Tim Cook, the chief executive of Apple, earns in a couple of days.

When Hollandale’s citizens lost their jobs in the cotton fields to mechanization they found work nearby, in Greenville and elsewhere, in factories that made clothes, bikes, tools and much else — for big brands like Fruit of the Loom and Schwinn.

They are gone now. Across the Mississippi River, Monticello, Ark., and other towns made carpets and furniture while Forrest City produced high-quality TV sets. The people I spoke to in the town of Wynne, known for its footwear, said they’d be happy to make Nikes if they were paid a living wage.

I found towns in South Carolina, Alabama, Mississippi and Arkansas that looked like towns in Zimbabwe, just as overlooked and beleaguered. It’s globalization, people say. Everyone knows that, everyone moans about it. Big companies have always sought cheaper labor, moving from North to South in the United States, looking for the hungriest, the most desperate, the least organized, the most exploitable. It has been an American story. What had begun as domestic relocations went global, with such success that many C.E.O.s became self-conscious about their profits and their stupendous salaries.

To me, globalization is the search for a new plantation, and cheaper labor; globalization means that, by outsourcing, it is possible to impoverish an American community to the point where it is indistinguishable from a hard-up town in the dusty heartland of a third world country.

“I took an assistant Treasury secretary, Cyrus Amir-Mokri, down from Memphis,” William Bynum, the chief executive of the Hope Credit Union, told me in his office in Jackson, Miss. “We passed through Tunica, Mound Bayou and Clarksdale, and ended up in Utica. All through the Delta. He just sat and looked sad. He said he could not believe such conditions existed in the United States.”

Now the Delta is worse off, the bulk of its factories shut, the work sent overseas. Again, this is the same old story, but need it be so?

When Mr. Cook of Apple said he was going to hand over his entire fortune to charity, he was greatly praised by most people, but not by me. It so happened that at that time I was traveling up and down Tim Cook’s home state of Alabama, and all I saw were desolate towns and hollowed-out economies, where jobs had been lost to outsourcing, and education had been defunded by shortsighted politicians."



"The strategy of getting rich on cheap labor in foreign countries while offering a sop to America’s poor with charity seems to me a wicked form of indirection. If these wealthy chief executives are such visionaries, why don’t they understand the simple fact that what people want is not a handout along with the uplift ditty but a decent job?

Some companies have brought manufacturing jobs back to the United States, a move called “reshoring,” but so far this is little more than a gesture. It seems obvious that executives of American companies should invest in the Deep South as they did in China. If this modest proposal seems an outrageous suggestion, to make products for Nike, Apple, Microsoft and others in the South, it is only because the American workers would have to be paid fairly. Perhaps some chief executives won’t end up multibillionaires as a result, but neither will they have to provide charity to lift Americans out of poverty."
philanthropy  philanthropicindustrialcomplex  exploitation  2015  paultheroux  inequality  indulgences  capitalism  hypocrisy  policy  economics  systemsthinking  globalization  outsourcing  charity  timcook  offshoring  labor  work  us  poverty  reshoring  south  nike  apple  southcarolina  mississippi  alabama  arkansas  charitableindustrialcomplex  power  control 
october 2015 by robertogreco
Best Charities to Donate to [from The Life You Can Save]
"Join The Fight Against Extreme Poverty

Choosing a highly effective charity is challenging.
Our recommended charities below are proven to do great work and give donors "bang for their buck.""



"Our Mission

The Life You Can Save is an organization founded by the philosopher Peter Singer and based on the basic tenet of Effective Altruism: leading an ethical life involves using a portion of personal wealth and resources to efficiently alleviate the effects of extreme poverty.

The Life You Can Save enhances and supports the Effective Altruism movement. Through public outreach, we provide information about and promote community participation in activities that reduce extreme poverty and its consequences. We also recommend charities that are highly impactful and cost-effective in doing the most good.

Our Vision

We will champion the cause of giving in order to save and improve the lives of those less fortunate than us, and we will spread knowledge of what we all can do to reduce poverty. We will encourage people to publicly pledge a percentage of their income to highly effective aid organizations. We acknowledge that every person's pledge will reflect their personal best commitment, and we will support donors in striving to improve upon their commitment.

The majority of us agree: if we could easily save the life of a child, we would. If saving a drowning child meant simply wading into a shallow pond and pulling the child out, we would not hesitate to take this action. The fact that we would get wet or ruin a good suit would not outweigh the act of saving a child's life.

UNICEF estimates that 17,000 children under the age of five die every day from preventable, poverty-related causes. Yet almost a billion people live very comfortable lives, with money to spare for many things that are not vital to survival. When did you last spend money on something to drink, when drinkable water was available for nothing?

The Life You Can Save seeks to change this disparity.

World-renowned philosopher Peter Singer educates the public on effective philanthropy and his work strives to bring about a new paradigm for donating in the developed world. With the publication of his book The Life You Can Save in 2009, Peter founded this organization of the same name to spread and make practical the central ideas of the book.

The Life You Can Save is part of a broader movement known as the Effective Altruism movement. Effective Altruists are individuals who devote a significant part of their life to improving the world as effectively as they can. The Effective Altruism movement is young, but growing steadily and we welcome the day when Effective Altruism is a commonly recognizable lifestyle choice.

We at The Life You Can Save endeavor to change the culture of philanthropy by making giving to help the needy a societal expectation and qualifier for a moral and just life. We want unnecessary luxuries to become anti-status symbols. We want the idea of who is in your community, and therefore deserving of your help, to expand beyond your immediate family, friends and geographical region to include the entire world. And we want people to think carefully about where they give so that they can help the world's poorest as much as possible with their donations.

As Peter Singer argues in his book, if everyone who can afford to contribute to reducing extreme poverty were to give a modest portion of their income to effective development charities, extreme poverty would be eliminated.

In pursuit of these developments in popular thinking, we are working to spread our message through public outreach, through the proliferation of local groups of informed givers and through a global online community. We provide information and tools for people to make a public pledge about their giving. We support those who are not yet ready to pledge by inviting them to participate in our community and the Effective Altruism movement. We keep abreast of and share the latest news about issues surrounding philanthropy, global poverty and charity cost-effectiveness."

[See also: Peter Singer vs Stephen Colbert
http://www.thelifeyoucansave.org/Learn-More/Peter-Singer-vs-Stephen-Colbert ]
petersinger  charities  ethics  philanthropy  altruism  charity  thelifeyoucansave  poverty  inequality  wealth  responsibility  selfishness 
july 2015 by robertogreco
Ivan Illich, "Philosophy... Artifacts... Friendship"
"Architects drafted on paper or modeled in clay, not on a screen. True, in the time of Ford's Model A, when Thérèse of Lisieux was canonized, and I was born, the instrumental artifact moved toward its apogee; it was becoming increasingly dominant in the sensual environment. But technology was still conceived as a tool for the achievement of a telos, a final cause set by its user, not as milieu. Technology had not yet redefined homo from tool-user to co-evolved product of engineering. The nature of the object was not a quandary; it was something more or less what it had been for generations. This is no longer so. The old rules for the discernment of good from evil spirits must be complemented by new rules for the distinction of things from zombies, and objects from pictures. Temperance, what the Cappadocians call nepsis, must now guard the heart, not only from real things like sweet skin and weighty bullion, but also guide one to the sound recognition of the allurements of mere images and so-called needs....

In my own pilgrimage, I engage philosophy as ancilla: on the one hand, to resist - how should I call it? - algorithmic reductionism and, on the other, to dispel the illusion that power or organization can ever enhance the practice of charity. This double conceptual shield against loving misplaced concreta, and belief in benevolent management inevitably implies the rejection of those genetic axioms from which the topology of technological thinking arises. This topology is well protected, if not hidden, by a self-image meant to give comfort to life beyond virtue and the good. The aim to make life always better has crippled the search for the appropriate, proportionate, harmonious or simply good life - hopes easily written off as simplistic or irresponsible. Only sober, unsentimental, vernacular rhetoric can possibly demonstrate the incompatibility of mathematical modeling or systems management with the quest for faith and love. The typical artifacts of our decade are at once more intimately and deviously connected to the understanding of revealed truth than hearth or arms or mill, the res agricola, res bellica, and scientia mechanica of earlier times....

In my seminars, I have seen many a student look up from the exegesis of a passage by Aelred of Rivaulx, Héloïse, or Hugh of St. Victor, and search for a correspondence in his or her own twenty-two year-old heart, and recognize what the notions related to process, field, feedback, loop, and context sensitivity have done to their grasp. At such moments of disciplined alienation, it is then possible to foster the insight that it is almost impossible for an inhabitant of "the system" to desire an I-Thou relationship like that cultivated in Talmudic or monastic communities. Following such an awakening and finding themselves at a loss to recapture this past experience, a thirst is incited....

In the study of theology, ecclesiology was my preferred subject; and, within this discipline, liturgy. Liturgy, like ecclesiology, is concerned with sociogenesis. It inquires into the continued embodiment of the Word through rituals. Necessarily, these rituals often center on objects like tables, tombs and chalices. So, my interest in these so-called sacra led me to the theory of instrumentally used objects. I pursued the nature of the artifact in the belief that understanding would deepen my insight into virtue in our epoch, especially the virtue of charity. Therefore, the love of friendship, philia, as practicable under the social and symbolic conditions engendered by modern artifacts, has been the constant subject of my teaching. For me, finally, philosophy is the ancilla amicitiae."
sensorium  ivanillich  1996  via:ayjay  technology  objects  artificat  charity  friendship  organization  power  goodness  enough  well-being  theology  ecclesiology  liturgy  sociogenesis  systemsmanagement  management  faith  love  temperance 
july 2015 by robertogreco
BOMB Magazine — Rebecca Solnit by Astra Taylor
"AT One of the most interesting ideas in the book is the concept of “elite panic”—the way that elites, during disasters and their aftermath, imagine that the public is not only in danger but also a source of danger. You show in case after case how elites respond in destructive ways, from withholding essential information, to blocking citizen relief efforts, to protecting property instead of people. As you write in the book, “there are grounds for fear of a coherent insurgent public, not just an overwrought, savage one.”

RS The term “elite panic” was coined by Caron Chess and Lee Clarke of Rutgers. From the beginning of the field in the 1950s to the present, the major sociologists of disaster—Charles Fritz, Enrico Quarantelli, Kathleen Tierney, and Lee Clarke—proceeding in the most cautious, methodical, and clearly attempting-to-be-politically-neutral way of social scientists, arrived via their research at this enormous confidence in human nature and deep critique of institutional authority. It’s quite remarkable.

Elites tend to believe in a venal, selfish, and essentially monstrous version of human nature, which I sometimes think is their own human nature. I mean, people don’t become incredibly wealthy and powerful by being angelic, necessarily. They believe that only their power keeps the rest of us in line and that when it somehow shrinks away, our seething violence will rise to the surface—that was very clear in Katrina. Timothy Garton Ash and Maureen Dowd and all these other people immediately jumped on the bandwagon and started writing commentaries based on the assumption that the rumors of mass violence during Katrina were true. A lot of people have never understood that the rumors were dispelled and that those things didn’t actually happen; it’s tragic.

But there’s also an elite fear—going back to the 19th century—that there will be urban insurrection. It’s a valid fear. I see these moments of crisis as moments of popular power and positive social change. The major example in my book is Mexico City, where the ’85 earthquake prompted public disaffection with the one-party system and, therefore, the rebirth of civil society.

AT So on the one hand there are people responding in these moments of crisis and organizing themselves, helping each other, and, on the other, there are power elites, who sometimes, though not always, sabotage grassroots efforts because, as you say at one point, the very existence of such efforts is taken to represent the failure of authorities to rise to the occasion—it’s better to quash such efforts than to appear incompetent. The way you explore the various motivations of the official power structure for sabotaging people’s attempts to self-organize was a very interesting element of the book.

RS You are an anarchist, aren’t you?

AT Maybe deep down. (laughter)

RS Not all authorities respond the same way. But you can see what you’re talking about happening right after the 1906 earthquake. San Franciscans formed these community street kitchens. You weren’t allowed to have a fire indoors because the risk of setting your house, and thereby your neighborhood, on fire was too great—if you had a house, that is. People responded with enormous humor and resourcefulness by creating these kitchens to feed the neighborhood. Butchers, dairymen, bakers, etcetera were giving away food for free. It was like a Paris Commune dream of a mutual-aid society. At a certain point, authorities decided that these kitchens would encourage freeloading and became obsessed with the fear that people would double dip. So they set up this kind of ration system and turned a horizontal model of mutual aid—where I’m helping you but you’re helping me—into a vertical model of charity where I have and you lack and I am giving to you. Common Ground, the radical organization for community rebuilding, 100 years later in New Orleans chooses as its motto: “Solidarity not charity.”

AT The charity model fits hand in hand with the “we need a paternal, powerful authority figure in a time of crisis” mindset that your book refutes. Do you think people need to be led?

RS Part of the stereotypical image is that we’re either wolves or we’re sheep. We’re either devouring babies raw and tearing up grandmothers with our bare hands, or we’re helpless and we panic and mill around like idiots in need of Charlton Heston men in uniforms with badges to lead us. I think we’re neither, and the evidence bears that out."



"RS I started that book when I was almost 30. The Nevada Test Site was the place that taught me how to write. Until then I had been writing in three different ways: I had been writing as an art critic, in a very objective, authoritative voice; I had been writing as an environmental journalist, also with objectivity; and then I had also been writing these very lapidary essays on the side. It felt like three different selves, three different voices, and explaining the test site and all the forces converging there demanded that I use all those voices at once. So as to include everything relevant, it also demanded I write in a way both meandering and inclusive. A linear narrative is often like a highway bulldozed through the landscape, and I wanted to create something more like a path that didn’t bulldoze and allowed for scenic detours.

My training as an art critic was a wonderful background because it taught me to think critically about representations and meanings, and that applied really well to national parks and atomic bombs and Indian Wars. It was great to realize that I didn’t have to keep these tools in museums and galleries—it was a tool kit that could go anywhere. Also, I was trained as a journalist. A journalist can become an adequate expert pretty quickly and handle the material, whereas a lot of scholars dedicate their life to one subject."
rebeccasolnit  atrataylor  elites  elitism  humans  humannature  power  2009  insurrection  resistance  caronchess  leeclarke  charlesfritz  enricoquarantelli  kathleentierney  timothygartonash  maureendowd  fear  neworleans  katrina  disasters  solidarity  grassroots  activism  charity  authoruty  patriarchy  control  writing  howwewrite  nola 
june 2015 by robertogreco
For the love of God, rich people, stop giving Ivy League colleges money - Vox
"But it's hard to imagine a worse way to use the money that still entitles Schwarzman to a charitable tax deduction. Yale is not a charity. It is a finishing school that overwhelmingly serves children of wealth and privilege. Supporting its scientific and particularly biomedical research is worthwhile, but the school is already far richer than all but one of its peer institutions and has access to considerable federal funds in that area, as well. And, of course, Schwarzman isn't supporting Yale's biomedical research. He's giving its dancers a nicer stage upon which to pirouette.

Literally any other charity, save maybe Harvard, is a better choice. Schwarzman could give $150 million to distribute bednets in sub-Saharan Africa, a highly cost-effective way to save lives. He could give $150 million directly to poor people in Kenya and Uganda through GiveDirectly. He could give $150 million to deworming efforts that spare children ailments that can cause immense pain and poverty. He could give $150 million to the Open Philanthropy Project or the Gates Foundation or another group doing careful, rigorous work to determine the best ways to use charitable resources to make the world a better place. He could, in fact, do all of the above because he's crazy stupid rich.

Of course, even the most generous among the rich spend heavily on themselves. Bill Gates may hope to spend down his fortune by fighting HIV and malaria in the developing world, but he also found the money to buy his daughter a 228-acre horse farm with 121 stalls, a race track, and staff lodging for up to 32 people. And maybe that's how Schwarzman's profligacy is best interpreted. He's a Yale alum, and this donation clearly provides some kind of emotional benefit to him.

But it's not philanthropy. It's not helping people who need help, and it's obscene that Schwarzman is getting a massive tax write-off for it. Giving to Yale is not an act of altruism. It's a gigantic, immoral waste of money, and it's long past time we started treating it as such."
plutocracy  blackstone  highereducation  2015  highered  ivyleague  stephenschwarzman  dylanmatthews  billgates  taxcode  charities  charitableindustrialcomplex  money  us  economics  priorities  philanthropy  donations  yale  philanthropicindustrialcomplex  charity  capitalism  power  control 
may 2015 by robertogreco
George Orwell: Why Socialists Don't Believe In Fun
"The inability of mankind to imagine happiness except in the form of relief, either from effort or pain, presents Socialists with a serious problem. Dickens can describe a poverty-stricken family tucking into a roast goose, and can make them appear happy; on the other hand, the inhabitants of perfect universes seem to have no spontaneous gaiety and are usually somewhat repulsive into the bargain. But clearly we are not aiming at the kind of world Dickens described, nor, probably, at any world he was capable of imagining. The Socialist objective is not a society where everything comes right in the end, because kind old gentlemen give away turkeys. What are we aiming at, if not a society in which ‘charity’ would be unnecessary? We want a world where Scrooge, with his dividends, and Tiny Tim, with his tuberculous leg, would both be unthinkable. But does that mean we are aiming at some painless, effortless Utopia? At the risk of saying something which the editors of Tribune may not endorse, I suggest that the real objective of Socialism is not happiness. Happiness hitherto has been a by-product, and for all we know it may always remain so. The real objective of Socialism is human brotherhood. This is widely felt to be the case, though it is not usually said, or not said loudly enough. Men use up their lives in heart-breaking political struggles, or get themselves killed in civil wars, or tortured in the secret prisons of the Gestapo, not in order to establish some central-heated, air-conditioned, strip-lighted Paradise, but because they want a world in which human beings love one another instead of swindling and murdering one another. And they want that world as a first step. Where they go from there is not so certain, and the attempt to foresee it in detail merely confuses the issue."

[Also available here: http://www.k-1.com/Orwell/site/work/essays/fun.html ]

[See also commentary: https://radicalscholarship.wordpress.com/2013/12/25/the-socialist-objective-i-can-see-the-dawn-of-the-better-day-for-humanity/ ]
georgeorwell  socialism  happiness  charity  fun  1943  humanism  charlesdickens  society  plthomas  paulthomas 
march 2015 by robertogreco
BBC News - Where do your old clothes go?
"Every year, thousands of us across the UK donate our used clothing to charity - many in the belief that it will be given to those in need or sold in High Street charity shops to raise funds. But a new book has revealed that most of what we hand over actually ends up getting shipped abroad - part of a £2.8bn ($4.3bn) second-hand garment trade that spans the globe. We investigate the journey of our cast-offs and begin to follow one set of garments from donation to their eventual destination."
clothing  secondhand  charities  markets  global  international  2015  charity 
february 2015 by robertogreco
Poverty, Inc: Fighting poverty is big business. But who profits the most?
[Trailer on YouTube: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UrUIDu5SfKU ]

"The West has positioned itself as the protagonist of development, giving rise to a vast multi-billion dollar poverty industry. Yet the results have been mixed, in some cases even catastrophic, and leaders in the developing world are growing increasingly vocal in calling for change."



"“I see multiple colonial governors,” says Ghanaian software entrepreneur Herman Chinery-Hesse of the international development establishment in Africa. “We are held captive by the donor community.”

The West has positioned itself as the protagonist of development, giving rise to a vast multi-billion dollar poverty industry — the business of doing good has never been better.

Yet the results have been mixed, in some cases even catastrophic, and leaders in the developing world are growing increasingly vocal in calling for change.

Drawing from over 200 interviews filmed in 20 countries, Poverty, Inc. unearths an uncomfortable side of charity we can no longer ignore.

From TOMs Shoes to international adoptions, from solar panels to U.S. agricultural subsidies, the film challenges each of us to ask the tough question: Could I be part of the problem?"
poverty  charitableindustrialcomplex  2014  documentary  africa  internationalaid  magattewade  georgeayittey  hernandodesoto  paulcollier  michaelfairbanks  paulkagame  andreaswidmer  hermanchinery-hesse  marcelaescobari  michaelmathesonmiller  dependence  charity  whitesaviors  savingafrica  philanthropicindustrialcomplex  capitalism  power  control 
january 2015 by robertogreco
The Coming Showdown Over University Endowments: Enlisting the Donors [.pdf]
"This Essay focuses on the discordance between universities with particularly large endowments and what is occurring in the rest of higher education, particularly with respect to skyrocketing tuition and a growing institutional wealth gap. The Essay considers absolute endowment values, the amount of endowment per student, and expense-endowment ratios at sixty private universities. It concludes that a small number of schools have an excess endowment, and then provides a convenient proxy for determining when an endowment is so large that it should receive less preferential tax treatment. The Essay then considers the effects that large endowments have at their home institutions and throughout higher education, the arguments in defense of large endowments, and some frequently proposed modifications to the tax code. The Essay recommends that policymakers modify the charitable deduction for gifts to universities with mega-endowments, as part of a multifaceted effort to spur endowment spending and control tuition."

[See also: https://pinboard.in/u:robertogreco/b:5dcd8b659f56 ]
sarahwaldeck  charities  nonprofit  2009  law  legal  finance  universities  colleges  wealth  taxation  taxes  endowments  charity  nonprofits 
december 2014 by robertogreco
Interview with Sjón | The White Review
"Q: THE WHITE REVIEW — Where are you from? And how did you come to write?

A: SJÓN — I was born in Reykjavík in 1962. From the beginning I read everything, from children’s books to newspapers – whatever printed material came into the house. At the age of 8 I discovered Icelandic folk stories, which is when I truly started waking up to literature. A year later, I discovered poetry. In school we were given a big collection of poetry, which was to last us throughout our school years, and I started reading this book for pleasure at home. I was reading detective novels, Icelandic folk stories, and Icelandic romantic poetry from very early on. Early reading teaches you the different possibilities of text.

When I came into my teenage years I became a huge David Bowie fan. To be a David Bowie fan in Iceland you more or less had to teach yourself English – to translate the lyrics, to be able to read the interviews in NME. My infatuation with Bowie prepared me for my discovery of modernist poetry, first in translation. At the age of 15 I found a book of Icelandic modernists from the end of the Second World War. That’s when modernism came to Iceland – and they were very much influenced by the surrealists. Somehow, I was bitten by the bug. It simply fascinated me that you were allowed to use the Icelandic language in this way, to create these incredible images and metaphors, and to present such ideas with the Icelandic language. I felt like I should be a part of it. So I started writing poetry and in a few months time I had written enough poetry for a book. I published my first book of poetry the summer I turned 16.

Q: THE WHITE REVIEW — You speak of an early interest in the various kinds of text, and your own writing is not easily assimilated into any single textual mode. As a writer, lyricist and poet, you move in and out of these different formats. What do you classify yourself as first and foremost, if anything? How might this resistance to categorisation link in to your interest in surrealism?

A: SJÓN — I’m a novelist who occasionally writes poetry. I write librettos, lyrics and children’s books but these are all collaborations that I do in between working on novels and poetry. One of the wonders of the novel is how easily it absorbs diverse texts. Everything that is written, whether it is non-fiction, old archives, newspaper articles, lullabies – somehow it can always find its place in the novel, and for that reason the novel became more important to me than the poem.

The novel is encyclopaedic: all of the different manners of expressing oneself in words can find their place there. In the Eighties my friends and I formed a group of surrealist poets called Medusa. Surrealism brings so much with it and one of the first things I realised when I became excited by surrealism was its link with folk stories. Surrealism is always non-academic, always looking for the source of human activity, looking into the back alleys and the darkest clearing in the forest for excitement. Somehow it was always very natural for me to bring all these different things together in what I was doing.

Q: THE WHITE REVIEW — Your novels are hybrids – a crossbreed of narrative fiction, historical fact, myth, music…

A: SJÓN — I like my novels to be made up of different parts, realities, states of consciousness. I now see my work as realist because everything I write is grounded in at least the experience of the character, here, in earthly life. The strange things that happen in the books are what happens in people’s minds, what they experience as truth. That of course creates a hybrid, when your standard is something normalised and accepted as the only way to experience reality.

Q: THE WHITE REVIEW — Music is a great part of this assortment – you’ve mentioned Bowie as an influence, and you have collaborated with musicians such as Björk. Do you think that words can achieve the condition of music, which has a much greater immediacy and is far less freighted with multiple meanings?

A: SJÓN — I think it’s very important to be open to influence from diverse artistic forms and forms of expression. I have been very much influenced by music and one of the routes I took to literature was through the music of David Bowie. I have worked with musicians in all fields – contemporary composers, pop artists – and I’ve worked with very diverse styles of music. But there is a huge difference between words being sung, spoken or read. The emotion that the singing voice brings to the world when sung out loud is something you cannot recreate on paper. I don’t think you should even try.

Q: THE WHITE REVIEW — You have spoken of realising that ‘you could take the classical string quartet as a model for the composition of THE BLUE FOX’. How did you achieve this?

A: SJÓN — I think the fact that I can take the form of the string quartet and use it as the basis of a novel is another proof of how dynamic the novel is. I’m sure that a composer writing a string quartet can learn something from a movie or the structure of film. It was music that gave me the idea of constantly breaking up the narrative. THE BLUE FOX would be a completely different novel if it were chronological. In it, there are constant cliff-hangers and repeated refrains – I’m playing with the element of two melodies that come together but never fully, only in the end finding a solution. It was very interesting that the first people who commented on the book were composers. They said it was very clear to them that I was always playing with volume of information versus text, which is the same thing they do – volume of tones versus time. You can take a melody and stretch it over five minutes, or compress it down to three seconds. They were very much aware of how I was playing with text versus information.

Q: THE WHITE REVIEW — Does your involvement in the world of music, and the musicality of your novels, betray some sort of frustration with the limits of the written word?

A: SJÓN — No. I am in the position where I can move between those different ways of writing. For me, it is a celebration of the many possibilities given to an author. I play no instruments, my only involvement with music is in collaborations with people who know how to do it. It is a privilege to be working with these musicians and to be allowed to bring my words to their work. To hear the words sung is a wonderful present from these people."



"This view actually went against everything that I had been taught in school. The Reformation is presented in Icelandic history books as something very benevolent and it was convenient to ignore that in the first decade after the Reformation life was very difficult for the common man and for scholars. The Methodist church became very dogmatic, and everything that had to do with the old Nordic religion, with old wisdom or old medicine, was banished as sorcery. He is the only historical voice that we have speaking against this. It was an opportunity to put a seed inside somebody’s skull, and take a walk through those times with his eyes."



"The reason that I felt it right to enter this world, this state of complaint against a world going to pieces, is because he lived through the period when the Catholic Church, the only socially responsible institution, was all of a sudden taken away. In Iceland, it is a fact that the Catholic Church was the only welfare structure in the country – we had no king, no dukes, we had no one to take over the social responsibilities when the Catholic Church vanished overnight. All the monasteries were closed down, all the orphanages, the old people’s shelters – everything, overnight. And the duty that the rich had – to keep the livestock alive on behalf of the religious priests who fed the poor – that vanished too.

Jón Guðmundsson is unique in that he is the only one who wrote about this. He bore witness to a world in which man had been relieved of his duty to show charity to his fellow men. This is very much what the last decade has felt like, at least in Iceland, if not many parts of the West. With the deregulation of the economic system, social responsibility was thrown out of the window and all of a sudden the rich became richer and they had no duties any more. This is something that happened with the fall of the Eastern Bloc – the message that we were told then was that capitalism had won and communism was the dark art. The Left lost its voice, at least in Iceland. The centre Left – the social democrats – they decided to start playing along with the capitalists, which is what you would call New Labour here. The real Left was all of a sudden presented as the losers of history, even though these people had been in opposition to the totalitarian regimes in the East for decades. All of a sudden everything that began with the word ‘social’ was a dirty word. The social contract that was established in most of the West after the Second World War, was dealt the final blow."



"In times where grand narratives are needed we look to the grand narratives of our culture. In our case it is the great myths, and sometimes it is to give name to something like the panic after September 11. Myth always puts man down to size, and man realises he is just this tiny figure moving from one meal to another on his way to the grave.

Q: THE WHITE REVIEW — Oral tradition is very much a part of myth. Is this something that can still exist today?

A: SJÓN — You have a whole continent, Africa, which has so many languages that have still not found a written form. There are places that have an unbroken tradition, stretching thousands of years back, of telling the same stories over and over again. Mostly here in the West we have lost the ability to protect our culture orally, and maybe we are in danger. What will happen when all the books have flared up and all the Kindles lost their battery power?

Q: THE WHITE REVIEW — Literary translation and the rise of world … [more]
sjón  2012  interviews  iceland  poems  poetry  novels  literature  writing  music  björk  reality  collaboration  surrealism  existence  humans  storytelling  davidbowie  mogenrukov  dogme95  life  living  perspective  curiosity  translation  africa  diversity  myths  myth  mythology  charity  catholicism  history  capitalism  economics  society  collectivism  interdependence  individualism  insignificance  folklore  nature  reformation  religion  magic  mysticism  enlightenment  catholicchurch  9/11  oraltradition  ebooks  books  words  coldwar  socialism  communism  jónguðmundsson  sorcery  songs  posthumanism 
december 2014 by robertogreco
Privatized Ebola
"Sierra Leone has waved the white flag in the face of Ebola Virus Disease (EVD). Its meager infrastructure has buckled under the onslaught of a disease which could have been curtailed. The announcement that infected patients will be treated at home because there is no longer the capacity to treat them in hospitals is a surrender which did not have to happen. Not only did Europe and the United States turn a blind eye to sick and dying Africans but they did so with the help of an unlikely perpetrator.

The World Health Organization is “the directing and coordinating authority for health within the United Nations system.” Its very name implies that it takes direction from and serves the needs of people all over the world but the truth is quite different. The largest contributor to the WHO budget is not a government. It is the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation which provides more funding than either the United States or the United Kingdom. WHO actions and priorities are no longer the result of the consensus of the world’s people but top down decision making from wealthy philanthropists.

The Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation may appear to be a savior when it provides $300 million to the WHO budget, but those dollars come with strings attached. WHO director general Dr. Margaret Chan admitted as much when she said, “My budget [is] highly earmarked, so it is driven by what I call donor interests.” Instead of being on the front line when a communicable disease crisis appears, it spends its time administering what Gates and his team have determined is best.

“Health care should be a human right, not a charity.”

The Ebola horror continues as it has for the last ten months in Guinea, Liberia and Sierra Leone. The cruelty of the world’s lack of concern for Africa and all Africans in the diaspora was evident by the inaction of nations and organizations that are supposed to respond in times of emergencies. While African governments and aid organizations sounded the alarm the WHO did little because its donor driven process militates against it. The world of private dollars played a role in consigning thousands of people to death.

Critics of the Gates Foundation appeared long before this current Ebola outbreak. In 2008 the WHO’s malaria chief, Dr. Arata Kochi, complained about the conflicts of interest created by the foundation. In an internal memo leaked to the New York Times he complained that the world’s top malaria researchers were “locked up in a 'cartel' with their own research funding being linked to those of others within the group.” In other words, the standards of independent peer reviewed research were cast aside in order to please the funder.

Private philanthropy is inherently undemocratic. It is a top down driven process in which the wealthy individual tells the recipient what they will and will not do. This is a problematic system for charities of all kinds and is disastrous where the health of world’s people is concerned. Health care should be a human right, not a charity, and the world’s governments should determine how funds to protect that right are spent. One critic put it very pointedly. “…the Gates Foundation, Bill & Melinda Gates, do not believe in the public sector, they do not believe in a democratic, publically owned, publically accountable system.”

There is little wonder why the Ebola outbreak caught the WHO so flat footed as they spent months making mealy mouthed statements but never coordinating an effective response. The Gates foundation is the WHO boss, not governments, and if they weren’t demanding action, then the desperate people affected by Ebola weren’t going to get any.

Privatization of public resources is a worldwide scourge. Education, pensions, water, and transportation are being taken out of the hands of the public and given to rich people and corporations. The Ebola crisis is symptomatic of so many others which go unaddressed or improperly addressed because no one wants to bite the hands that do the feeding.

“The Gates foundation is the WHO boss, not governments.”

The Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation has pledged an additional $50 million to fight the current Ebola epidemic but that too is problematic, as Director General Chan describes. “When there’s an event, we have money. Then after that, the money stops coming in, then all the staff you recruited to do the response, you have to terminate their contracts.” The WHO should not be lurching from crisis to crisis, SARS, MERS, or H1N1 influenza based on the whims of philanthropy. The principles of public health should be carried out by knowledgeable medical professionals who are not dependent upon rich people for their jobs.

The Gates are not alone in using their deep pockets to confound what should be publicly held responsibilities. Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg announced that he was contributing $25 million to fight Ebola. His donation will go to the Centers for Disease Control Foundation. Most Americans are probably unaware that such a foundation even exists. Yet there it is, run by a mostly corporate board which will inevitably interfere with the public good. The WHO and its inability to coordinate the fight against Ebola tells us that public health is just that, public. If the CDC response to Ebola in the United States fails it may be because it falls prey to the false siren song of giving private interests control of the people’s resources and responsibilities."
charitableindustrialcomplex  2014  ebola  worldhealthorganization  health  wealth  gatesfoundation  billgates  markzuckerberg  philanthropy  democracy  margaretkimberley  africa  power  charity  philanthropicindustrialcomplex  capitalism  control 
october 2014 by robertogreco
The NGO-ization of resistance | Massalijn
"A hazard facing mass movements is the NGO-ization of resistance. It will be easy to twist what I’m about to say into an indictment of all NGOs. That would be a falsehood. In the murky waters of fake NGOs set up or to siphon off grant money or as tax dodges (in states like Bihar, they are given as dowry), of course, there are NGOs doing valuable work. But it’s important to consider the NGO phenomenon in a broader political context.

In India, for instance, the funded NGO boom began in the late 1980s and 1990s. It coincided with the opening of India’s markets to neoliberalism. At the time, the Indian state, in keeping with the requirements of structural adjustment, was withdrawing funding from rural development, agriculture, energy, transport and public health. As the state abdicated its traditional role, NGOs moved in to work in these very areas. The difference, of course, is that the funds available to them are a minuscule fraction of the actual cut in public spending.

Most large-funded NGOs are financed and patronized by aid and development agencies, which are, in turn, funded by Western governments, the World Bank, the UN and some multinational corporations. Though they may not be the very same agencies, they are certainly part of the same loose, political formation that oversees the neoliberal project and demands the slash in government spending in the first place.

Why should these agencies fund NGOs? Could it be just old-fashioned missionary zeal? Guilt? It’s a little more than that. NGOs give the impression that they are filling the vacuum created by a retreating state. And they are, but in a materially inconsequential way. Their real contribution is that they defuse political anger and dole out as aid or benevolence what people ought to have by right. They alter the public psyche. They turn people into dependent victims and blunt the edges of political resistance. NGOs form a sort of buffer between the sarkar and public. Between Empire and its subjects. They have become the arbitrators, the interpreters, the facilitators.

In the long run, NGOs are accountable to their funders, not to the people they work among. They’re what botanists would call an indicator species. It’s almost as though the greater the devastation caused by neoliberalism, the greater the outbreak of NGOs. Nothing illustrates this more poignantly than the phenomenon of the U.S. preparing to invade a country and simultaneously readying NGOs to go in and clean up the devastation. In order make sure their funding is not jeopardized and that the governments of the countries they work in will allow them to function, NGOs have to present their work in a shallow framework, more or less shorn of a political or historical context. At any rate, an inconvenient historical or political context.

Apolitical (and therefore, actually, extremely political) distress reports from poor countries and war zones eventually make the (dark) people of those (dark) countries seem like pathological victims. Another malnourished Indian, another starving Ethiopian, another Afghan refugee camp, another maimed Sudanese…in need of the white man’s help. They unwittingly reinforce racist stereotypes and reaffirm the achievements, the comforts and the compassion (the tough love) of Western civilization. They’re the secular missionaries of the modern world.

Eventually–on a smaller scale, but more insidiously–the capital available to NGOs plays the same role in alternative politics as the speculative capital that flows in and out of the economies of poor countries. It begins to dictate the agenda. It turns confrontation into negotiation. It depoliticizes resistance. It interferes with local peoples’ movements that have traditionally been self-reliant. NGOs have funds that can employ local people who might otherwise be activists in resistance movements, but now can feel they are doing some immediate, creative good (and earning a living while they’re at it).

Real political resistance offers no such short cuts. The NGO-ization of politics threatens to turn resistance into a well-mannered, reasonable, salaried, 9-to-5 job. With a few perks thrown in. Real resistance has real consequences. And no salary."
arundhatiroy  via:dymaxion  2014  charitableindustrialcomplex  governance  ngos  resistance  politics  policy  consequences  speculation  capital  economics  power  control  confrontation  negotiation  salvationpolitics  racism  stereotypes  missionaries  funding  neoliberalism  depoliticization  appeasement  charity  philanthropy  markets  bloodmoney  development  colonization  colonialism  philanthropicindustrialcomplex  capitalism 
september 2014 by robertogreco
Throwing cold water on the phenomenon — The Message — Medium
"Lou Gehrig’s Disease is horrible; on this everyone agrees. And anything that might hasten the development of treatments or even a cure is inarguably worth supporting. But.

That damned ice bucket challenge. Celebrities, athletes, business executives, that annoying self-promotional person in your Facebook network —they’ve all embraced the charity campaign, becoming particularly inescapable in the last month. And it’s worked, with the ALS Association reporting a more-than-tenfold increase in donations since the campaign took off, yielding over $30 million in proceeds. [Update: Felix Salmon makes a credible case for donations reaching $100 million.]

It’s extraordinarily rare to see many people publicly criticizing a charity campaign, given the risks of being seen as heartless or obnoxious. That’s especially true given the record-breaking success of the ice bucket challenge. Yet many reasonable, caring people have voiced some skepticism or concern about the particulars of this charity effort. Something about the way the ice bucket challenge has taken off rubbed many of us the wrong way, even as we’ve been pleased by its success.

In the interest of understanding how even an undeniably meritorious effort could grate on the sensibilities of good people, I solicited specific reasons that the ice bucket challenge was annoying. Dozens of people replied, offering complaints that fit neatly into a few different (presumably not ice-filled) buckets. They are presented here, sorted from least legitimate to most legitimate.

It’s getting out of giving

At least in its most common incarnations, the premise of the ice bucket challenge was that the participants were dumping ice on their heads to avoid donating to the cause. Now, the majority of extremely wealthy people who have done the challenge have chosen both to dump ice on their heads and to donate to the cause. But the setup being anti-charity stuck in many people’s minds as a fairly offensive premise. This objection seems a bit more dubious, given that nobody is actually using the challenge as an excuse not to give to the cause, but it certainly helped color the conversation for those who were already skeptical.

[examples]

Charity Ought Not Be Public
That thine alms may be in secret: and
thy Father which seeth in secret
himself shall reward thee openly.

That exhortation to give in private was courtesy of Aaron Williamson, epitomizing this class of objections.

[examples]

Annoyance at the Participants

The rich are, of course, constant and often worthy targets of our scorn. And when they do anything to advertise themselves as being paragons of virtue, that’s a quick road to opprobrium. Even worse is when we combine that with egotistical celebrities nakedly expressing self-regard, thanking themselves for their own generosity. Rising naturally from the earlier objections to any public charity are even more strident objections to hyper-public charity.

[examples]

Objecting to the Manipulation

When a friend or colleague publicly asks one to participate in a charity effort, it’s of course a deeply coercive action. There’s no suitable response other than yes, unless one is willing to look insensitive or cruel in public.

[examples]

The Insensitivity of Mirth

Because ALS is a brutal, exhausting disease that ravages both those who are afflicted as well as their families and loved ones, the lighthearted tone of many videos from the challenge seemed tone-deaf. This becomes doubly true when so many on social media this week have been focused on profoundly troubling events around the world, from Missouri to Syria.

[examples]

No real focus on ALS

One of the most pervasive threads of criticism is that the participants seemed largely disconnected from harsh reality of ALS, saying almost nothing about the disease, the Association dedicated to helping those with the disease, or even where people watching the video could choose to donate themselves.

[examples]

Fundamental Funding Problems Are More Important

The most compelling, inarguable justification for objecting to the ice bucket challenge is that it shouldn’t be necessary in the first place. As many have pointed out, many elected officials who were willing to perform the stunt in ostensible solidarity with people who have ALS were also willing to cut funding to fight the disease.

[examples]

Surprisingly, this wasn’t one of the most popularly-articulated reasons for objecting to this viral campaign. But it is clearly the one which bears the most mention, and it’s well worth reckoning with the serious issue of how our society will fund basic research on enormously devastating diseases.

How to address ALS

This final focus on the funding and research about the disease is the point most often overlooked in extremely viral online campaigns — because it leads to the sort of complexity that isn’t very much fun to share on Facebook.

But many charities that have been fortunate enough to experience a surge of online donations have also struggled with the after-effects. Like the lottery winners who, unaccustomed to managing wealth, find themselves broke a few years later, very few small non-profits have the skill to manage an onrush of funding that is both unexpected and unrepeatable. In the best case, they might be able to create an endowment that will yield a modest but significant annual return in the future. Those aren’t the kind of results that will get celebrities posting on YouTube, meaningful though they may be.

And for those of us not directly impacted by ALS, participating in these sorts of campaigns, rather than voting for broader medical research or supporting more substantive funding, can lead to an even more serious issue. Online campaigns are very effective in encouraging moral licensing, that phenomenon where we feel we’ve “scratched our itch” in regard to charity, and then give ourselves permission to be less charitable overall.

The most fundamental issue raised by the success of the ice bucket challenge is that ALS is an incredibly difficult disease to live with, and one that has seen few significant advances in its treatment. There is no cure. These realities are not going to change without an ongoing, extended, significant engagement by professionals who are dedicated to making progress through research.

We should never give in to cynicism, and we shouldn’t be afraid to participate in campaigns that are for a good cause. But it’s just as important we listen to the skeptics and the critics over the long run. Because ALS will be with us for a long time, but the gimmick in these videos is never going to work again."
als  charity  philanthropy  charitableindustrialcomplex  2014  icebucketchallenge  stunts  anildash  viral  lougehrig'sdisease  giving  virtue  funding  fundraising  criticism  manipulation  morallicensing  skepticism  nonprofit  charities  philanthropicindustrialcomplex  nonprofits  capitalism  power  control 
august 2014 by robertogreco
The cold, hard truth about the ice bucket challenge - Quartz
"The key problem is funding cannibalism. That $3 million in donations doesn’t appear out of a vacuum. Because people on average are limited in how much they’re willing to donate to good causes, if someone donates $100 to the ALS Association, he or she will likely donate less to other charities.

This isn’t just speculation. Research from my own non-profit, which raises money for the most effective global poverty charities, has found that, for every $1 we raise, 50¢ would have been donated anyway. Given our fundraising model, which asks for commitments much larger than the amount people typically donate, we have reason to think that this is a lower proportion than is typical for fundraising drives. So, because of the $3 million that the ALS Association has received, I’d bet that much more than $1.5 million has been lost by other charities.

A similar phenomenon has been studied in the lab by psychologists. It’s called moral licensing: the idea that doing one good action leads one to compensate by doing fewer good actions in the future. In a recent experiment, participants either selected a product from a selection of mostly “green” items (like an energy-efficient light bulb) or from a selection of mostly conventional items (like a regular light bulb). They were then told to perform a supposedly unrelated task. However, in this second task, the results were self-reported, so the participants had a financial incentive to lie; and they were invited to pay themselves out of an envelope, so they had an opportunity to steal as well.

What happened? People who had previously purchased a green product were significantly more likely to both lie and steal than those who had purchased the conventional product. Their demonstration of ethical behavior subconsciously gave them license to act unethically when the chance arose.

Amazingly, even just saying that you’d do something good can cause the moral self-licensing effect. In another study, half the participants were asked to imagine helping a foreign student who had asked for assistance in understanding a lecture. They subsequently gave significantly less to charity when given the chance to do so than the other half of the participants, who had not been asked to imagine helping another student.

The explanation behind moral licensing is that people are often more concerned about looking good or feeling good rather than doing good. If you “do your bit” by buying an energy-efficient lightbulb, then your status as a good human being is less likely to be called into question if you subsequently steal.

In terms of the conditions for the moral licensing effect to occur, the ice bucket challenge is perfect. The challenge gives you a way to very publicly demonstrate your altruism via a painful task, despite actually accomplishing very little (on average, not including those who don’t donate at all, a $40 gift, or 0.07% of the average American household’s income): it’s geared up to make you feel as good about your actions as possible, rather than to ensure that your actions do as much good as possible."



"Cannibalism of funding among charities is a major problem. However, there is a solution. The moral licensing phenomenon doesn’t always happen: there is a countervailing psychological force, called commitment effects. If in donating to charity you don’t conceive of it as “doing your bit” but instead as taking one small step towards making altruism a part of your identity, then one good deed really will beget another. This means that we should tie new altruistic commitments to serious, long-lasting behavior change. Rather than making a small donation to a charity you’ve barely heard of, you could make a commitment to find out which charities are most cost-effective, and to set up an ongoing commitment to those charities that you conclude do the most good with your donations. Or you could publicly pledge to give a proportion of your income.

These would be meaningful behavior changes: they would be structural changes to how you live your life; and you could express them as the first step towards making altruism part of your identity. No doubt that, if we ran such campaigns, the number of people who would do these actions would be smaller, but in the long term the total impact would be far larger."
economics  psychology  charitableindustrialcomplex  charity  philanthropy  morallicensing  commitmenteffects  funding  nonprofit  2014  philanthropicindustrialcomplex  nonprofits  capitalism  power  control 
august 2014 by robertogreco
Love People, Not Pleasure - NYTimes.com
"We look for these things to fill an inner emptiness. They may bring a brief satisfaction, but it never lasts, and it is never enough. And so we crave more. This paradox has a word in Sanskrit: upadana, which refers to the cycle of craving and grasping. As the Dhammapada (the Buddha’s path of wisdom) puts it: “The craving of one given to heedless living grows like a creeper. Like the monkey seeking fruits in the forest, he leaps from life to life... Whoever is overcome by this wretched and sticky craving, his sorrows grow like grass after the rains.”

This search for fame, the lust for material things and the objectification of others — that is, the cycle of grasping and craving — follows a formula that is elegant, simple and deadly:

Love things, use people.

This was Abd al-Rahman’s formula as he sleepwalked through life. It is the worldly snake oil peddled by the culture makers from Hollywood to Madison Avenue. But you know in your heart that it is morally disordered and a likely road to misery. You want to be free of the sticky cravings of unhappiness and find a formula for happiness instead. How? Simply invert the deadly formula and render it virtuous:

Love people, use things.

Easier said than done, I realize. It requires the courage to repudiate pride and the strength to love others — family, friends, colleagues, acquaintances, God and even strangers and enemies. Only deny love to things that actually are objects. The practice that achieves this is charity. Few things are as liberating as giving away to others that which we hold dear.

This also requires a condemnation of materialism. This is manifestly not an argument for any specific economic system. Anyone who has spent time in a socialist country must concede that materialism and selfishness are as bad under collectivism, or worse, as when markets are free. No political ideology is immune to materialism.

Finally, it requires a deep skepticism of our own basic desires. Of course you are driven to seek admiration, splendor and physical license. But giving in to these impulses will bring unhappiness. You have a responsibility to yourself to stay in the battle. The day you declare a truce is the day you become unhappier. Declaring war on these destructive impulses is not about asceticism or Puritanism. It is about being a prudent person who seeks to avoid unnecessary suffering.

Abd al-Rahman never got his happiness sums right. He never knew the right formula. Fortunately, we do."
relationships  people  consumerism  materialism  buddhism  2014  arthurbrooks  abdal-rahman  economics  happiness  unhappiness  life  living  skepticism  desire  charity  virtue  fame  money  danielkahneman  collectivism 
july 2014 by robertogreco
Madonna earns the wrath of Joyce Banda - full statement | World news | theguardian.com
"3. Granted, Madonna has adopted two children from Malawi. According to the record, this gesture was humanitarian and of her accord. It, therefore, comes across as strange and depressing that for a humanitarian act, prompted only by her, Madonna wants Malawi to be forever chained to the obligation of gratitude. Kindness, as far as its ordinary meaning is concerned, is free and anonymous. If it can't be free and silent, it is not kindness; it is something else. Blackmail is the closest it becomes."

[via: http://ayjay.tumblr.com/post/82482268187/neither-the-president-nor-any-official-in-her]

[also here: http://www.nyasatimes.com/2013/04/10/malawi-state-house-responds-to-madonnas-outbursts-full-text/ ]
philanthropy  charity  kindness  madonna  malawi  joycebanda  whitesaviors  africa  self-importance  charitableindustrialcomplex  2014  philanthropicindustrialcomplex  capitalism  power  control 
april 2014 by robertogreco
Good Intentions and Big Ideas: Feel Good Grants That Exploit Artists and Reduce Arts Funding
"Needless to say, all that money and privilege leaves some big and largely unanswered questions around access, inclusion, politics and turning ideas into marketable products that these organizations and companies try to claim ownership over."



"What I want to do here is channel that growing skepticism around the fact that it is often the wealthiest and most powerful people who dictate the terms of the good acts that our society commits and who decide which ideas will underpin them. And it’s absolutely true that sometimes they get it right and great things are accomplished, I’m never going to deny that, but sometimes what I would call boutique charities arise that are often ego-driven and compete with other organizations with less capital or cache which ultimately diminishes resources and ends up with populations in need being very poorly served."



"Of course, it’s true, as Slayton and I concurred, that any time an artist receives funding there are going to be compromises made or limitations placed on the work that the artists create. These fellowships are a small part of a much larger system. And all an artist needs to do to avoid such conflicts is not apply when they see problematic programs. But the thing is, as with many of those organization like TED that I mentioned at the outset, because of the popularity of these brains-in-a-room programs with a lot of people in power right now, there has been a noticeable shift over the past decade or so toward thinking that artists’ new job is to answer society’s most urgent needs in short periods of time for little to no money. Lately this has led to giving people desperate to cut money in their budgets big ideas like “let’s just get rid of our trained aides in the senior programs and offer the space for free to a bunch of artists who will come in and fingerpaint and play music” or “instead of having actual teachers who understand lesson plans and childhood developmental stages, let’s bring in some theater people without education experience to make plays with the kids about the history those teachers would have been teaching.” This is where what seemed like a good intention turns into something deeply problematic when made manifest in the actual, daily lives of the people the programs are intended to help — the artists are exploited, the people with immediate needs are no longer having those needs met by competent and trained workers, and governments hide behind out-of-the-box thinking when laying waste to programs and services."
art  artists  ted  2012  alexisclements  exploitation  power  money  economics  charitableindustrialcomplex  zero1  labor  charities  chrisanderson  bigthink  ideas4all  aspenideasfestival  philanthropicindustrialcomplex  charity  capitalism  control 
march 2014 by robertogreco
The Secret Auden by Edward Mendelson | The New York Review of Books
"W.H. Auden had a secret life that his closest friends knew little or nothing about. Everything about it was generous and honorable. He kept it secret because he would have been ashamed to have been praised for it."



At literary gatherings he made a practice of slipping away from “the gaunt and great, the famed for conversation” (as he called them in a poem) to find the least important person in the room. A letter-writer in the Times of London last year recalled one such incident:
Sixty years ago my English teacher brought me to London from my provincial grammar school for a literary conference. Understandably, she abandoned me for her friends when we arrived, and I was left to flounder. I was gauche and inept and had no idea what to do with myself. Auden must have sensed this because he approached me and said, “Everyone here is just as nervous as you are, but they are bluffing, and you must learn to bluff too.”

Late in life Auden wrote self- revealing poems and essays that portrayed him as insular and nostalgic, still living imaginatively in the Edwardian world of his childhood. His “Doggerel by a Senior Citizen” began, “Our earth in 1969/Is not the planet I call mine,” and continued with disgruntled complaints against the modern age: “I cannot settle which is worse,/The Anti-Novel or Free Verse.” A year after he wrote this, I chanced on a first book by a young poet, N.J. Loftis, Exiles and Voyages. Some of the book was in free verse; much of it alluded to Harlem and Africa; the author’s ethnic loyalties were signaled by the name of the publisher, the Black Market Press. The book was dedicated “To my first friend, W.H. Auden.”



"When he felt obliged to stand on principle on some literary or moral issue, he did so without calling attention to himself, and he was impatient with writers like Robert Lowell whose political protests seemed to him more egocentric than effective. When he won the National Medal for Literature in 1967, he was unwilling either to accept it in Lyndon Johnson’s White House during the Vietnam War or “to make a Cal Lowell gesture by a public refusal,” so he arranged for the ceremony to be held at the Smithsonian, where he gave an acceptance speech about the corruption of language by politics and propaganda."
charity  humility  modesty  whauden  2014  edwardmendelson  audiencesofone  theleastofourbrothers  attention  listening 
february 2014 by robertogreco
Morals Without God? - NYTimes.com
"Over the past few years, we have gotten used to a strident atheism arguing that God is not great (Christopher Hitchens) or a delusion (Richard Dawkins). The new atheists call themselves “brights,” thus hinting that believers are not so bright. They urge trust in science, and want to root ethics in a naturalistic worldview.

While I do consider religious institutions and their representatives — popes, bishops, mega-preachers, ayatollahs, and rabbis — fair game for criticism, what good could come from insulting individuals who find value in religion? And more pertinently, what alternative does science have to offer? Science is not in the business of spelling out the meaning of life and even less in telling us how to live our lives. We, scientists, are good at finding out why things are the way they are, or how things work, and I do believe that biology can help us understand what kind of animals we are and why our morality looks the way it does. But to go from there to offering moral guidance seems a stretch.

Even the staunchest atheist growing up in Western society cannot avoid having absorbed the basic tenets of Christian morality. Our societies are steeped in it: everything we have accomplished over the centuries, even science, developed either hand in hand with or in opposition to religion, but never separately. It is impossible to know what morality would look like without religion. It would require a visit to a human culture that is not now and never was religious. That such cultures do not exist should give us pause."

[See also: http://www.scientificamerican.com/article/mind-reviews-bonobo-and-atheist/ ]
animals  atheism  ethics  philosophy  religion  belief  fransdewaal  via:anne  sciene  evolution  morality  primates  relationships  giving  brain  denbosch  hieronymusbosch  life  living  darwin  altruism  empathy  pleasure  charity  inequity  inequityaversion  dogs  2010  charlesdarwin 
february 2014 by robertogreco
When you see someone and think they need help, you can press help into their hand. — Ford’s Sensorium — Medium
"Look, the few dollars my grandfather pressed into my hand didn’t change my situation. I probably used them to buy soda. Giving money to Aaron would not have made an observable dent in his legal fees or saved his life, just as the money we gave to my wife’s cousin won’t save his life.

This morning, as I was thinking about all of this, a woman asked me for a dollar as I walked up Coney Island Avenue, and I didn’t give her the dollar.

I try to be a generous person but often fail at it. I try to be a polite person, but I can also be a fearful person. I’ll do everything I can to avoid embarrassing others, but that isn’t the same as kindness.

When you see someone and think they need help, you can press help into their hand. They may refuse it, but you can, if you choose, press help into their hand."
charity  paulford  ftrain  generosity  money  help  kindness  2014  aaronswartz 
january 2014 by robertogreco
How to explain the right’s every move: Their unwillingness to help poor people
[See also Paul Krugman: http://krugman.blogs.nytimes.com/2014/01/08/on-fighting-the-last-war-on-poverty/ and http://digbysblog.blogspot.co.uk/2014/01/the-right-cant-handle-reality-of-21st.html and http://digbysblog.blogspot.com/2014/01/heres-what-it-means-to-actually-deal.html ]

"In my morning article, I posited that one subtext beneath the red-baiting response to a progressive inequality agenda is the right’s urgent need to keep the debate over social welfare anchored around cutting and devolving government services.

I think the views of other conservatives vindicate my argument. Once you blow past all the histrionics, and survey conservatives who don’t see terms like “Sovereign Wealth Fund” and “Universal Basic Income” and scream “Stalin!” you find that this really comes down to a bedrock disagreement over whether actually helping the poor is a worthy priority.

Among other things, the article that ignited this debate posits swapping out income, payroll and other taxes for a progressive, but conservative-friendly land value tax, and replacing (or partially replacing) the existing social safety net with a basic income — less bureaucracy, more cash transfers. In a very clever post, Wonkblog’s Dylan Matthews demonstrated that all of these ideas can be framed as conservative reforms just as easily as they can appeal to #FULLCOMMUNISTS.

Obviously when you’re talking about overhauling something as complex as most of the federal budget, relatively minor details can ultimately mean the difference between agreement and no agreement. But we’re never going to get that far. It turns out the most important detail is conservatives’ overriding concern that whatever form the federal safety net ultimately takes, it should be no more generous than it is right now, and preferably less so.

"@brianbeutler @reihan @dylanmatt Liberals do not envision using UBI to replace things like Medicaid. For them, huge new net transfer." — Megan McArdle (@asymmetricinfo) January 7, 2014

"@brianbeutler @janegalt @reihan @dylanmatt Cost would not be affordable to many folks on any reasonable UBI." — Megan McArdle (@asymmetricinfo) January 7, 2014

Again, details matter. Would liberals support zeroing out U.S. health spending and replacing it with cash transfers? That depends! Is there an insurance guarantee? Exchanges? A single payer all Americans can buy into? An overriding question for liberals would be whether the tradeoff maintains or increases the general welfare. But the point is it would be possible to get there on paper if conservatives were serious about making sure the poor ended up better off, or were at least held harmless. If everyone agrees inequality is the problem, it’s odd to write off the possibility of significant new net cash transfers.

But conservatives — even reform conservatives — are oddly indignant about the suggestion that they would support doing something that actually helps the poor. As always, for any given way of helping people, conservatives are against it because there’s some other better way. But they never actually favor helping."
conservatism  politics  economics  poverty  poor  charity  policy  inequality  conservatives  meganmcardle  brianbeutler  paulkrugman  us  government 
january 2014 by robertogreco
Giving Tuesday: Don't donate to a fancy college.
"My alma mater, and perhaps yours, would like to take advantage of the concept of "Giving Tuesday" to get you to give them money. Here's some advice: Don't do it.

Send your money to a poor Kenyan or buy mosquito nets for West Africans in need. If you specifically want to help out an American, then walk out the door and give money to a homeless person on the street. If you want to help out with education, then find a local elementary or high school that's working effectively with poor kids and throw it some cash. There are a lot of things you could do with your charity dollar and essentially all of them are a better idea than giving money to Harvard or Yale or Stanford. For starters, though these highly selective charities like to talk about their generous financial aid policies the fact is that they rarely admit students from low-income families. And when they do admit students from low-income families, those kids usually already get a pretty generous financial aid package because these schools are already extremely rich.

The one and only valid reason to donate money to your selective and well-endowed alma mater is that you're implicitly trying to bribe them to give your own children preference in the admissions process. If that's what's motivating you, then by all means knock yourself out. Those legacy preferences are real, but they don't just exist to be nice. It's about getting money. But paying people to give your children preferential treatment isn't charity. It's more like anti-charity."
charity  philanthropy  economics  education  money  2013  matthewyglesias  ivyleague  elitism  highereducation  highered 
december 2013 by robertogreco
Plutocrats at Work: How Big Philanthropy Undermines Democracy | Dissent Magazine
"From the start, the mega-foundations provoked hostility across the political spectrum. To their many detractors, they looked like centers of plutocratic power that threatened democratic governance. Setting up do-good corporations, critics said, was merely a ploy to secure the wealth and clean up the reputations of business moguls who amassed fortunes during the Gilded Age. Consider the reaction to John D. Rockefeller’s initial request for a charter from the U.S. Senate (he eventually received one from New York State):
In spite of his close ties to big business, Progressive presidential candidate Theodore Roosevelt opposed the effort, claiming that “no amount of charity in spending such fortunes [as Rockefeller’s] can compensate in any way for the misconduct in acquiring them.” The conservative Republican candidate, William Howard Taft denounced the effort as “a bill to incorporate Mr. Rockefeller.” Samuel Gompers, president of the American Federation of Labor, sneered that “the one thing that the world would gratefully accept from Mr. Rockefeller now would be the establishment of a great endowment of research and education to help other people see in time how they can keep from being like him.”*



One hundred years later, big philanthropy still aims to solve the world’s problems—with foundation trustees deciding what is a problem and how to fix it. They may act with good intentions, but they define “good.” The arrangement remains thoroughly plutocratic: it is the exercise of wealth-derived power in the public sphere with minimal democratic controls and civic obligations. Controls and obligations include filing an annual IRS form and (since 1969) paying an annual excise tax of up to 2 percent on net investment income. There are regulations against self-dealing, lobbying (although “educating” lawmakers is legal), and supporting candidates for public office. In reality, the limits on political activity barely function now: loopholes, indirect support for groups that do political work, and scant resources for regulators have crippled oversight.

Because they are mostly free to do what they want, mega-foundations threaten democratic governance and civil society (defined as the associational life of people outside the market and independent of the state). When a foundation project fails—when, say, high-yield seeds end up forcing farmers off the land or privately operated charter schools displace and then underperform traditional public schools—the subjects of the experiment suffer, as does the general public. Yet the do-gooders can simply move on to their next project. Without countervailing forces, wealth in capitalist societies already translates into political power; big philanthropy reinforces this tendency.

Although this plutocratic sector is privately governed, it is publicly subsidized. Private foundations fall into the IRS’s wide-open category of tax-exempt organizations, which includes charitable, educational, religious, scientific, literary, and other groups. When the creator of a mega-foundation says, “I can do what I want because it’s my money,” he or she is wrong. A substantial portion of the wealth—35 percent or more, depending on tax rates—has been diverted from the public treasury, where voters would have determined its use.

The main rationale for both the tax exemption and the charitable contribution tax deduction (created in 1917) is to stimulate private giving. Yet this is a weak rationale when applied to the super-rich; a more effective way to stimulate their giving would be to raise the estate and capital gains taxes. It is a meaningless rationale for the 65 percent of American taxpayers who don’t itemize their deductions and therefore can’t use the charity tax break.

Despite scores of studies, the relationship of charitable giving to tax incentives remains unclear. Too many different factors determine giving: religiosity, innate altruism, family tradition, social attitudes, community ties, alumni loyalty, fluctuations in income. But other patterns of giving are well known. Less than 10 percent of all charity in the United States addresses basic human needs. The wealthiest donors devote an even tinier portion of their giving to these needs. Most major donations go to universities and colleges, hospitals, and cultural institutions, often for highly visible building projects carrying the donor’s name (New York Times, September 6, 2007).

Another public subsidy to private foundations comes from the “5 percent minimum payout requirement.” To prevent private foundations from hoarding all their wealth, the 1969 tax reform requires them to make grants annually that equal or exceed about 5 percent of their endowment’s value. There is, however, a loophole. The payout includes all “reasonable” foundation administrative expenses—from salaries and trustee fees to travel, receptions, office supplies, equipment, rent, and new headquarters. Only the cost of financially managing the endowment is excluded. Thus an extravagant “lifestyle” can cost a wealthy foundation nothing: any part of the 5 percent payout that a foundation doesn’t spend on itself must go to grants anyway.



A Modest Proposal

Big philanthropy is overdue for reform. The goal should be to reduce its leverage in civil society and public policymaking while increasing government revenue. Some possible changes seem obvious: don’t allow administrative expenses to count toward the 5 percent minimum payout, increase the excise tax on net investment income, eliminate the tax exemption for foundations with assets over a certain size, and replace the charity tax deduction with a tax credit available to everyone (for example, all donors could subtract 15 percent of the total value of their charitable contributions from their tax bills). In addition, strict IRS oversight of big philanthropy—especially all the “educating” that looks so much like lobbying and campaigning—is crucial.

Another reform would require private foundations to “spend down” their endowments over a designated number of years. They would no longer exist in perpetuity. This idea has some promise of success: the living donors of several mega-foundations, including Bill and Melinda Gates, have already decided to spend down and are recruiting others to do the same.

The foundation sector will fight reform ferociously—as it has in the past. When asked to forgo some influence or contribute more in taxes, the altruistic impulse stalls. The foundation sector acts like any other powerful interest group. The Obama administration, for example, tried several times to lower the charitable deduction cap, but the foundation lobby battled each effort successfully. Still, the reforms are sound, necessary, and worth pursuing.

Meanwhile, the public needs more critical, in-depth information. The mainstream media are, for the most part, failing miserably in their watchdog duties. They give big philanthropy excessive deference and little scrutiny. Public television and radio live on big philanthropy’s largess. Collaborative programming with mega-foundations has undermined the credibility of major for-profit news organizations as well as public media, especially on health and education issues.

Early twentieth-century skeptics were rightly suspicious of plutocrats deciding how to improve the human condition and then paying to translate their notions into public policy. Now it’s time for a new progressive era—complete with muckrakers and trust-busters to cast a critical eye on big philanthropy."
philantropy  charity  us  influence  corruption  wealth  power  capitalism  taxes  charitableindustrialcomplex  lausd  joannebarkan  progressivism  history  plutocracy  2013  philanthropicindustrialcomplex  control 
october 2013 by robertogreco
The Charitable-Industrial Complex - NYTimes.com
"Philanthropy has become the “it” vehicle to level the playing field and has generated a growing number of gatherings, workshops and affinity groups.

As more lives and communities are destroyed by the system that creates vast amounts of wealth for the few, the more heroic it sounds to “give back.” It’s what I would call “conscience laundering” — feeling better about accumulating more than any one person could possibly need to live on by sprinkling a little around as an act of charity.

But this just keeps the existing structure of inequality in place. The rich sleep better at night, while others get just enough to keep the pot from boiling over. Nearly every time someone feels better by doing good, on the other side of the world (or street), someone else is further locked into a system that will not allow the true flourishing of his or her nature or the opportunity to live a joyful and fulfilled life.

And with more business-minded folks getting into the act, business principles are trumpeted as an important element to add to the philanthropic sector. I now hear people ask, “what’s the R.O.I.?” when it comes to alleviating human suffering, as if return on investment were the only measure of success. Microlending and financial literacy (now I’m going to upset people who are wonderful folks and a few dear friends) — what is this really about? People will certainly learn how to integrate into our system of debt and repayment with interest. People will rise above making $2 a day to enter our world of goods and services so they can buy more. But doesn’t all this just feed the beast?

I’m really not calling for an end to capitalism; I’m calling for humanism.

Often I hear people say, “if only they had what we have” (clean water, access to health products and free markets, better education, safer living conditions). Yes, these are all important. But no “charitable” (I hate that word) intervention can solve any of these issues. It can only kick the can down the road.

My wife and I know we don’t have the answers, but we do know how to listen. As we learn, we will continue to support conditions for systemic change.

It’s time for a new operating system. Not a 2.0 or a 3.0, but something built from the ground up. New code.

What we have is a crisis of imagination. Albert Einstein said that you cannot solve a problem with the same mind-set that created it. Foundation dollars should be the best “risk capital” out there.

There are people working hard at showing examples of other ways to live in a functioning society that truly creates greater prosperity for all (and I don’t mean more people getting to have more stuff).

Money should be spent trying out concepts that shatter current structures and systems that have turned much of the world into one vast market. Is progress really Wi-Fi on every street corner? No. It’s when no 13-year-old girl on the planet gets sold for sex. But as long as most folks are patting themselves on the back for charitable acts, we’ve got a perpetual poverty machine.

It’s an old story; we really need a new one."

[via: http://ayjay.tumblr.com/post/56603683692/philanthropy-has-become-the-it-vehicle-to-level ]
[A response from Robinson Meyer: http://yayitsrob.tumblr.com/post/56618708680/peter-buffett-the-son-of-warren-buffett-writes and another http://mayhap.tumblr.com/post/56607917480/a-few-years-ago-zizek-wrote-charity-is-the ]
charitableindustrialcomplex  charity  philanthropy  us  society  capitalism  power  control  wealthdistribution  inequality  via:ayjay  2013  peterbuffett  humanism  change  robinsonmeyer  philanthropicindustrialcomplex 
july 2013 by robertogreco
Erin Watson: nonprofits, startups, and the middle place
"That center – where internet culture, creativity, and social justice intersect – is where we want to live, but neither of us knows how there’d be money in it. And that’s the real frustration: it seems like startup culture contains this vast pit of money and talent going towards selling ads and mining data. How do you get to the middle place? How do you build a life and thrive there? Thinking larger, how do we make a culture that values communities and their human needs over the next big thing? (I’m counting creativity among these human needs: I believe in the arts as an external immune system and a vector for transformative change.)

Because isn’t the real root issue that there’s no common denominator of what we value beyond how much money we make? There’s no atomic unit of satisfaction, or of social good, in the dark crevasse of late capitalism. There’s no winning at doing charity."
erinwatson  nonprofit  startups  middlegrounds  middleplaces  2013  art  community  socialactivism  change  creativity  culture  socialjustice  labor  work  latecapitalism  capitalism  satisfaction  socialgood  income  charity  charitableindustrialcomplex  vectors  philanthropicindustrialcomplex  nonprofits  power  control 
july 2013 by robertogreco
Liberal Education, Stewardship, and the Cosmopolitan Temptation | Front Porch Republic
"When speaking of the proper care for the natural world, the word that best describes our efforts is stewardship. Stewards are care-takers. They lovingly guide, protect, and cultivate that which is under their care. In the language of stewardship the concepts of indebtedness, gratitude, love, and responsibility all find their proper places. But it is not only in the context of the natural world that the concept of stewardship has meaning. When we examine the topic of liberal education the idea of stewardship is indispensable. For as inheritors of a civilization, we are its stewards. And because the gifts of civilization are tender plants requiring constant nourishment, our task as stewards requires perseverance, courage, and, ultimately, faith that succeeding generations will take up the mantle when we are no longer able to bear it.



It is, in the end, impossible seriously to engage the great tradition without cultivating the habit (or is it the art?) of attention. Tocqueville notes that the habit of inattention is the greatest vice of democracy. This vice is exponentially more pervasive in an age where email, text messaging, Tweets, and YouTube are only a click away. Learning to attend carefully is, perhaps, one of our culture’s greatest needs. Paying attention requires self-control. We must learn to listen before we speak and think before we act. These habits are essential for self-government.



But with all this, there is at the heart of much writing about liberal education a sort of cosmopolitan temptation that, ultimately, does a disservice to the concept of stewardship. When proponents of liberal education describe it as the attempt to grasp the whole, they are partially right, but if we do not continue with the acknowledgment that the whole is grasped via particulars and that, as human creatures, we necessarily inhabit only a small and particular part of the whole, we are missing something crucial.

If a liberal education teaches a person to love abstraction, to relish the exchange of universal ideas of justice, charity, and beauty, yet to be inattentive to the neighbor down the street or the beauty of a well-tended garden, then something has gone wrong. Such an education is suited to abstract beings who naturally belong in no particular place and have none of the senses by which particular beauty or empathy can be experienced. Such an education is, in other words, not fit for human beings.



In other words, a liberal education should teach students how to be human beings and how to live in some particular place. If a course of education cultivates a hatred for home, it has failed. If it cultivates a dissatisfaction with the local, particular, and the provincial in favor of distant, abstract places where cosmopolitanism drowns out the loveliness and uniqueness of local customs, practices, stories, and songs, then the education has failed. To be well-educated is to be educated to live well in a particular place. It is to acknowledge the creatureliness of one’s existence and thereby to recognize our many debts of gratitude and the scale proper to a human life. A successful liberal education cultivates stewards who are disposed to love their places and who are equipped to tend them well."

[via: http://randallszott.org/2013/03/01/mark-t-mitchell-the-art-of-attention-stewardship-and-cosmopolitan-neglect/ ]
liberaleducation  democracy  liberalarts  2009  via:randallszott  cosmopolitanism  stewardship  gratitude  love  responsibility  civilization  sustainability  humanism  attention  tocqueville  self-control  self-government  local  slow  small  abstraction  justice  charity  beauty  global  glocal 
march 2013 by robertogreco
Lance Armstrong and Livestrong | Lance Armstrong | OutsideOnline.com
"If Lance Armstrong went to jail and Livestrong went away, that would be a huge setback in our war against cancer, right? Not exactly, because the famous nonprofit donates almost ­nothing to scientific research. BILL GIFFORD looks at where the money goes and finds a mix of fine ideas, millions of dollars aimed at “awareness,” and a few very blurry lines."
misrepresentation  fraud  awareness  via:rodcorp  billgifford  fundraising  charity  nonprofits  2012  cancer  livestrong  critique  lancearmstrong  gregmortenson  charitableindustrialcomplex  philanthropicindustrialcomplex  nonprofit  capitalism  power  control  from delicious
august 2012 by robertogreco
Isolated and Under-Exposed: Why the Rich Don't Give - Neighborhoods - The Atlantic Cities
"Turns out lower giving among the rich likely has much more to do with where they live and who they live near.

As this accompanying article from the journal notes, when the rich are highly concentrated in wealthy enclaves, they're less likely to give as compared with the rich living in more economically diverse neighborhoods. The report found that in neighborhoods where more than 40 percent of taxpayers reported earning $200,000 or more, the average giving was just 2.8 percent of discretionary income.

In other words, concentration of wealth is also isolation from the less fortunate."
proximity  generosity  diversity  wealthdistribution  wealth  philanthropy  2012  research  isolation  charity  charitableindustrialcomplex  philanthropicindustrialcomplex  capitalism  power  control  from delicious
august 2012 by robertogreco
potlatch: how not to save a tiger
"But there is something more troubling about this, than just standard marketing mendaciousness. Adam Smith was concerned by the fact that human beings seem to feel less sympathy for others, the further they are away (see this interesting piece in the LRB on how this problem manifests itself in climate change). This is not a problem that can be easily solved or got round. But the strategy of these charities is not to work on increasing the level of sympathy, but of trivialising the nature of the problem. In the advert above, it is assumed by Amnesty that human beings…have very little capacity to imagine the situation of others, to sympathise over distance or to adopt an unconditional moral position. Rather than nurture imagination, sympathy or moral sentiment, the advertisement effectively suppresses those things by containing them within the solipsistic realms of the ego-phone. The individual's solitary comfort zone is reinforced by this, rather than rattled in any way."
ethics  charities  ads  2012  worldwildlifefund  half-truths  sympathy  truth  advertising  willdavies  amnestyinternational  ngo  nonprofits  charity  nonprofit  from delicious
june 2012 by robertogreco
Finding Freedom in Handcuffs | Common Dreams
"And as norms mutate and change, as the world is steadily transformed by corporate forces into one of a small cabal of predators and a vast herd of human prey, these elites seamlessly replace one set of “values” with another. These elites obey the rules. They make the system work. And they are rewarded for this. In return, they do not question.

Those who resist—the doubters, outcasts, renegades, skeptics and rebels—rarely come from the elite. They ask different questions. They seek something else—a life of meaning. They have grasped Immanuel Kant’s dictum, “If justice perishes, human life on Earth has lost its meaning.” And in their search they come to the conclusion that, as Socrates said, it is better to suffer wrong than to do wrong."
chrishedges  2011  ows  occupywallstreet  timetomoveon  elite  wealth  charity  resistance  inequality  disparity  society  us  privilege  culture  charitableindustrialcomplex  philanthropicindustrialcomplex  capitalism  power  control  from delicious
november 2011 by robertogreco
three cups of fiction | Schooling the World
[broken link, new bookmark here: https://pinboard.in/u:robertogreco/b:cca28f5634e5
article now at: http://carolblack.org/three-cups-of-fiction ]

"…anything that causes humiliation & anger in men is going to cause increased rates of violence against women…the way education is currently framed means it does good for some children at the cost of doing great harm to many others, & this is not good for families, for communities, or for societies.  The answer is not to hold girls back…it’s to challenge the ranking-&-failure paradigm as the only way to help children learn."

"The bottom line is that the modern school is no silver bullet, but an extremely problematic institution which has proven highly resistant to fundamental reform, and there is very little objective research on its impact on traditional societies. When we intervene to radically alter the way another culture raises and educates its children, we trigger a complex cascade of changes that will completely reshape that culture in a single generation.  To assume that those changes will all be good is to adopt a blind cultural superiority that we can ill afford."
threecupsoftea  gregmortenson  afghanistan  education  unschooling  deschooling  learning  nomads  ngo  development  culturalsuperiority  culture  reform  teaching  systems  systemsthinking  2011  inequality  power  charity  economics  designimperialism  humanitariandesign  humanitarianism  stonesintoschools  money  failure  rankings  sorting  testing  children  women  girls  society  competition  hierarchy  class  onesizefitsall  grading  poverty  gender  colonization  carolblack  colonialism  from delicious
may 2011 by robertogreco
BUY THIS SATELLITE - Connect Everyone.
"We believe Internet access is a tool that allows people to help themselves—a tool so vital that it should be considered a universal human right. Imagine your digital life disconnected. W/out access to the 100 million man-hours that have been put into Wikipedia, how much do you actually know? W/out your contacts online social networks how much can you accomplish? W/out access to the news, weather, your bank account—how in charge of your life are you?

The Internet has transformed what it means to be human—we are now more connected to one another than ever before. Yet, over 5 billion people do not have access to this incredible invention, do not have a voice in global dialog, or opportunity to share ideas & learn from Internet's ever-expanding knowledge pool.

…access to information & Internet is a necessity for every global citizen & We plan to address information inequality by making internet access so ubiquitous you can take it for granted: Free, global, seamless connectivity."
internet  satellite  activism  charity  space  ahumanright  access  accessibility  communication  web  online  palomar5  global  from delicious
april 2011 by robertogreco
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