Tuesday, August 4, 2020

Crazy Rich White Folks

I have long lamented about the current state of Venture Philanthropy, the idea that giving is tied to some type of investment with a return. Apparently just the thought of giving money to those in need, no strings, no demands, no capital gains is what giving is about but the rich are different and they don't give anyone anything without a string perpetually attached.

The idea of the "giving pledge" is my personal favorite bullshit line up there with "self made" and "entereprenuer". No you got fucking lucky when a bunch of white men "gave" you money for your harebrained scheme and in turn you sold that to another group of white men down the chain and then they sold it to some more. That is called a Pyramid Scheme, ask Bernie Madoff or that dude from WeWork or Uber or AirBnb (who apparently cried when this pandemic hit). These are all white men with links to more white men who in normal times would meet at a Red Roof Inn and circle jerk to porn, but today they meet in the Silicon Valley and exchange bullshit lines and then metaphorically suck each others cocks while making ludicrous claims that this scooter, this app, this idea will do what - CHANGE THE WORLD. Okay then.

In the meantime, the rest of the world, the 99% are in deep shit. Facing evictions, facing dire poverty and potentially contracting a serious illness that could leave one indebted/bankrupt, permanently damaged physically and emotionally, for both adults and children.   And the Medical Industrial Complex is going, "What the fuck?" as they need to make a profit here folks.   We have no fucking clue with this Covid what the long term outcomes will be regardless, this is just a real call to action. But the rich? Fuck that. If I hear another quote from Bill Gates I will Coove on him.

And while everyone is swooning over Cuomo, I want to remind all those doing so that again in the shade of the pandemic, he is doing his part to cover his ass and keep it firmly in the chair he sits doing his daily lottery announcement and showing us his art projects that he creates in pandemonium. The man is a douche. Phil Murphy in NJ did so recently with a bill that covered the ability to sell public park lands to wealthy golfers.  FORE SURE.  

And yes folks a hard lockdown in coming.  Trump needs to hit the trail and the trail is sort of piling up bodies so the one way to do this is locking us up again. So the rich are now stockpiling cash while we do what we do best, fuck all nothing.   Just ask Jared about that.  Our Jared has closed up with the rest of the Subway chains folding up their six foot longs.   And more businesses are heading to bankruptcy so those courtrooms that have been closed for so long are going to be super busy until lockdown 2.0 hits.  So bitch please, what about that stimulus and recovery? Oh yeah sure. WHAT.THE.FUCK.EVER

In this crisis we have seen Trump pull bullshit but as they say all Politics are local and the reality is that whatever the rich need to do to stay rich they are doing so and nothing says taking advantage of a crisis by taking needed Government funds and money from the Reserve at zero interest rate and stashing it up their ass, in their yachts, family homes and hidden bank accounts on tax free islands where you can get massages from teen agers. Sounds great.  Crazy Rich White People.

In a pandemic, billionaires are richer than ever. Why aren't they giving more?
Chuck Collins
The Guardian
Published on Mon 3 Aug 2020

Billionaires get huge tax breaks to park money in private family foundations operated by wealthy heirs. Little goes to actual charity work

‘Taxpayers should not subsidize private fortresses of wealth and power that will exist for generations, controlled by the same families and their professional advisers.’

A decade ago, Bill Gates and Warren Buffett did an important thing. They organized the Giving Pledge to inspire their fellow billionaires to donate more money to charity.

On 4 August 2010, the first group of billionaires announced their intention to give away over half their wealth to charity. Over the last decade, they’ve been joined by many more.

A decade later, however, two obvious problems have emerged.

First, billionaire wealth has expanded at a phenomenal rate. Of the 62 living Pledgers who were billionaires in 2010, their personal wealth has increased by 95%, from $376bn to $734bn in 2020 dollars.

They’d pledged to give away half. Instead, their wealth has nearly doubled.

Not even the pandemic has slowed them down. From March to July 2020, the 100 US billionaires who are currently part of the Giving Pledge saw their total wealth increase $214bn – an increase of 28% in just four months.

Many have stepped up to give during the pandemic. But their giving is not keeping pace with their exploding wealth.

This leads to the second problem: in all likelihood, most of what they give away won’t go to on-the-ground charities, but to private family foundations often controlled by wealthy heirs and their advisers. Instead of supporting charities on the frontlines of problem solving, these billions end up sitting in tax-advantaged intermediaries.

The notion that philanthropy is a private preserve, apart from the government, is a myth

You may be thinking: it’s their money, they can do with it as they choose.

But the notion that philanthropy is a private preserve, apart from the government, is a myth. The wealthier the donor, the more advantaged the charitable tax deduction becomes. For every dollar donated by a billionaire to their private foundation, we the taxpayers chip in as much as 74¢ on the dollar in lost tax revenue.

For this reason, the philanthropy of billionaires is at best understood as a public-private partnership. We taxpayers have a legitimate interest in ensuring these funds serve the public interest.

Through this lens, it is troubling that so much wealth is sequestered in private foundations and donor-advised funds – and that these are the fastest-growing areas of the giving sector. There is over $1.2tn parked in private foundations and an estimated $120bn in donor-advised funds.

Private foundations are required to give away – or “pay out” in charity lingo – at least 5% of their assets each year, ostensibly to working charities. But administrative overhead, salaries and gifts to other tax-advantaged funds are counted toward this 5%. And many larger foundations treat this 5% as a ceiling, not a floor.

Donor-advised funds, or DAFs, have no mandated payout at all. The donor takes a generous tax break when placing funds into the DAF, but the DAF does not legally have to pay out – ever. Donors can set up a DAF and pass it on to their grandchildren, who may or may not ever share the money with active charities.

Private philanthropy has always been a form of power for wealthy donors. But as wealth inequality has exploded in recent decades, it’s concentrating that private power in even fewer hands – all subsidized by public taxpayers.

This has troubling implications for charities, who are forced to cater to a smaller number of mega-donors, and our democracy. As governments at all levels face growing austerity from the Covid-19 pandemic and recession, billionaire philanthropy may well fill the vacuum for local services and institutions. But unlike local taxpayer dollars, billionaire foundations don’t answer to voters.

So what can be done?

The first step is for Congress to pass an “emergency charity stimulus”, a three-year mandate to increase the payouts of foundations and donor-advised funds. This would move $200bn to frontline charities doing urgent work during the pandemic – without costing taxpayers another dime, since these funds have been “paid for” by tax deductions.

But ultimately we need a movement to democratize charitable giving. We should reorient the rules governing taxes and charity to discourage the concentration of power and decision-making. Taxpayers should not subsidize private fortresses of wealth and power that will exist for generations, controlled by the same families and their professional advisers.

The implication for Gates, Buffett and the other Giving Pledgers is clear: give more money – not to private foundations, but directly to working charities and community-controlled foundations. Ten years from now, on the 20th anniversary of the Giving Pledge, the private family foundation should no longer exist.

Chuck Collins directs the Program on Inequality and co-edits Inequality.org at the Institute for Policy Studies. He is a co-author of the report Gilded Giving 2020: How Wealth Inequality Distorts Philanthropy and Imperils Democracy

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