If billionaires are saying they want to “give back,” it’s because we’ve been letting them take too much.
By Jim Hightower | January 26, 2022/OtherWords.org
Our society has coined expressions like “philanthropist” to encourage and hail people’s charitable spirit. Look on the flip side of that shiny coin of generosity, however, and you’ll find that its base substance is societal selfishness.
After all, the need for charity only exists because we’re tolerating intentional injustices and widespread inequality created by power elites. A society as supremely wealthy as ours ought not be relegating needy families and essential components of the common good to the whims of a few rich philanthropists.
Yes, corporate and individual donations can help at the margins, but they don’t fix anything. Food banks, health clinics, and other service providers must constantly scrounge for more charity — while big donors have their “charitable spirit” subsidized with tax breaks that siphon money from our public treasury.
Especially offensive to me is the common grandiose assertion by fat cat donors that charity is their way of “giving back” to society. But if they can give so much, it’s probably because they’ve been taking too much!
As business columnist Andrew Ross Sorkin points out, “All too often, charitable gifts are used… to make up for the failure of companies to pay people a living wage and treat their workers with dignity.”
It’s not just the unemployed who rely on food banks, but janitors, nannies, Uber drivers, checkout clerks, and others who work full time, but are so poorly paid they can’t make ends meet. That’s not a sad charity case, but a matter of criminal exploitation by wealthy elites. The charitable thing to do is to outlaw it and require a living wage for all.
As Sorkin puts it, “The aim should be to create a society where we don’t need places like food banks… We should be trying to put the food banks out of business.”
OtherWords columnist Jim Hightower is a radio commentator, writer, and public speaker. Distributed by OtherWords.org.
More from Assorted Ideas, Large & Small
- Now Is Your Chance for a Great Deal on Art, Thanks to Gallery RIVAAStarting Thursday, December 7th, you can take home some great art from our local artists at Gallery RIVAA, 527 Main Street. Affordable Art lasts just four days but brings a chance to win art as
- Can we talk… with RIOC? CB8 invites Roosevelt Island engagementCommunity Board 8 (CB8) Roosevelt Island committee chair, Paul Krikler, opens a window next week where the community can connect. That’s not just with RIOC, but it’s also with each other and a shot at
- New York City Health & Hospital’s Community Mural Project Graces Coler“Healing in Community,” a part of NYC Health & Hospitals’s mural project, went live on December 1st at Roosevelt Islands’s Coler Rehabilitation Center. It’s one of nine additions to the wide-ranging effort this year. by
- The “Eviction Machine” Now Slams Into Roosevelt IslandAs a community, we always thought we were immune from these things, but the “eviction machine” described in a New York Times article, is building up momentum, attacking Roosevelt Island’s most vulnerable residents. by David
- Who Just Made the Big Fat Silence You Didn’t Hear?It was RIOC, and that big fat silence billowed out in every direction as it had for months. Starting with brutal accusations in a lawsuit condemning a wide swath of Roosevelt Islanders as racists, the