The journalist argues that philanthropy is often a tool that helps the rich maintain their power, wealth and status.
With the expensive mid-term elections followed by Thanksgiving and Black Friday, followed by Cyber Monday, you’d think that people wouldn’t have much money left over for Giving Tuesday. But if current trends continue, charitable contributions this year may actually match pre-Great Recession levels. We won’t know about 2014 for a while, but the results are in for last year: Americans gave $335 billion in nonprofit, tax-deductible gifts in 2013.
The vast majority of that money did not come from rich people. Yes, occasionally a Mark Zuckerberg will give away a billion or so, which certainly ups the total. But on the whole, those in the top 20 percent give away about 1.3 percent of their income while those in the bottom fifth donate about 3.2 percent of their incomes. That’s unfortunate because America’s “ultra-rich” population grew by about six percent last year.
(Randy Shaw is the editor of BeyondChron and author of The Activist’s Handbook, Second Edition. This post first appeared November 14 on BeyondChron and is republished with permission.)
Last week’s Twitter IPO triggered stories about “tech culture’s” impact on San Francisco and the broader society. It made me ask: is there really a culture of tech outside the workplace and, if so, what is it? More importantly, does labeling popular activities among young workers as “tech culture” create divisions among people who otherwise could be working together to solve social problems? Many (including myself) have identified the term with a libertarian political philosophy, hostility to unions and overwhelming white and Asian-American workers under-40 without kids. It is also identified with the rise of artisan coffees and foods, wine bars, upscale restaurants and the now legendary $4 toast that led the Courage Campaign to launch a petition to Mayor Lee regarding the city’s rising costs.
An old friend I’m back in touch with thanks to Facebook loves to rail against Facebook — on Facebook. When our electronic bond progressed to a real-world lunch, he lamented that he had joined Facebook for its networking promise, but has become unnerved by a growing sense that his Facebook Page belongs not to him but to, yes, Facebook.
I could relate. A bizarre posting or a stealth ad on Facebook can trigger a flash of disorientation. Does it emanate from a friend, a friend of a friend, a mutual friend, a frenemy posing as a friend, someone I “should get to know” or a multi-national corporation? How did those unflattering pictures of me insinuate themselves, unbidden, into my profile? And how can it be that I’m now, at this precise instant, listening — “on Spotify” — to a song I’ve never heard of?
It might be satisfying for counter-culture types to blow off steam by rebelling against a mega-corporation that markets itself as the hip vanguard of the communications revolution to mask its true establishment-promoting,
Within about a month of the debut of Fwd.us, Mark Zuckerberg’s new DC lobby outfit aimed at promoting immigration reform, the group is already falling apart. If this week is any indication, the meltdown will be as spectacular and ignoble as every other ill-conceived, overfunded start-up in the Valley.
Fwd.us’ political problems began the way they usually do: with a cynical, too-cute-by-half strategy adopted by his Beltway proxies. Fwd.us’ approach amounted to this: Buy the votes of key lawmakers by dumping money into ads in their home states on issues that are useful to them but that Mark Zuckerberg doesn’t care about.
What that has meant in practice is running commercials supporting South Carolina Senator Lindsey Graham for his bold opposition to Obamacare and his support of the Keystone XL Pipeline, and applauding Alaska Senator Mark Begich for his support for drilling in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge.