SYNDICATED COLUMN: Against Philanthropy

As Hurricane Victims Freeze, Billionaire Mayor Gives Away $1 Billion to Wealthy Med School

New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg made headlines over the weekend with his announcement that he has donated $345 million to Johns Hopkins University. Added to his previous donations, the media baron has given his alma mater over $1 billion – the largest charitable contribution to an educational institution in US history.

Bloomberg received plaudits for his generosity by the usual media sycophants. Along with death and taxes, another thing you can count on is being told to be grateful when masters of the universe give away some of their loot (even if none of it goes to you.) As pundits fawned, thousands of New Yorkers – residents of Queens whose homes got damaged by superstorm Sandy – were shivering under blankets in heatless homes in 15° weather because restoring electricity and housing storm victims isn’t one of the mayor’s top priorities.

Disgusting.

This was a man, New Yorkers remember, who wanted the mayoralty so badly that he subverted the people’s will, bribing and bullying the City Council into overturning term limits passed by an overwhelming majority so that he could keep the job a third term.

No one should claim that he didn’t want responsibility for those poor cold slobs out in the Rockaways.

If there’s anything more nauseating than watching this rich pig bask in the glow of his philanthropy while the citizens he is tasked with caring for turn into popsicles, it’s the failure of anyone in the system – columnists, local TV anchor people, even Bloomberg’s political rivals – to call him out. For $345 million the mayor could have put his city’s storm victims up at the Four Seasons for years.

Bloomberg’s donation to one of the wealthiest universities on earth, with an endowment of $2.6 billion, serves to remind us that philanthropy is evil.

You could argue that generous rich people are better than cheap rich people. And if you like the way things are, with the gap between rich and poor at record levels and spreading – you’d be right. But most people are not happy with our winner-take-all economy.

No one deserves to be rich. And no one should be poor. Everyone who contributes to society, everyone who works to the best of their skills and abilities, deserves to earn the same salary. Of course, I realize that not everyone adheres to such basic Christian – er, communist – principles. (Anyone who denies that Jesus was a commie never cracked open a Bible.)

But most people – certainly most Americans – agree there’s a line. That too much is too much. People like Michael Bloomberg and Steve Jobs and Bill Gates may have worked hard and created products that consumers purchased in great numbers – but no one can work $25 billion hard (Bloomberg’s estimated net worth). There aren’t that many hours in the day; the human skull doesn’t contain enough synapses; no idea is worth that much.

One of the big problems with charitable giving is that it mitigates the injustice of inequality: sure, maybe it’s a little crazy that Bloomberg has 11 luxurious homes while people are starving to death and sleeping outside, but at least he’s generous. He’s giving it away. The implication, that the chasm between rich and poor isn’t that bad, is a lie. It’s also evil: If inequality isn’t that bad, it’s not important to talk about – much less fix.

“For many people, the generosity of these individuals who made so much money eliminates the problem that wealth poses, inequality poses, in the society,” says Robert Dalzell, author of “The Good Rich and What They Cost Us.” “We tend to conclude that such behavior is typical of the wealthy, and in fact it’s not…This whole notion of ‘the good rich’ I think reconciles us to levels of inequality in the society that in terms of our democratic ideology would otherwise be unacceptable.”

It’s better for society when rich people are unlikeable jerks like Mitt Romney. Knock over old ladies, stiff the waitress, talk with a pretentious fake British 19th-century accent, install a car elevator. Bad behavior by our elite oppressors hastens the revolution.

Bloomberg’s billion-dollar gift to a school that doesn’t need a penny illustrates the inherent absurdity of capitalism: aggregating so much wealth and power in the hands of a few individuals. It’s obscene and morally reprehensible to allow a disproportional share of resources to fall under the control of the arbitrary whims of a few quirky rich dudes.

Why should National Public Radio, which received a $200 million bequest by the widow of McDonald’s founder Ray Kroc, get all that cash while the Pacifica radio network – more avant-garde, better politics – teeters on the edge of bankruptcy? It’s nice that the Bill and Melinda Gates foundation fights AIDS in Africa, but who are Bill and Melinda Gates to decide that AIDS in Africa is worse than, say, diarrhea, which kills more people? It’s amusing to hear that the heir to a pharmaceutical fortune gave $100 million to an obscure poetry journal – but again, people are sleeping outside. Why not musicians? Or cartoonists?

People are dying because they can’t afford treatment by a doctor. People have been convicted of crimes they didn’t commit and executed because they couldn’t afford a competent lawyer to defend them.

If a government agency were allocating public funds based on the personal whims of its director, there would be a scandal. Under the veil of “philanthropy” billions of dollars that could help millions of people are being spent in a haphazard manner – and we’re supposed to applaud because it’s up to the “private sector”?

In an ideal world no one would have that kind of power. We’d be as equal as the Declaration of Independence declares us to be. We’d make decisions about who to help and what problems to try to fix collectively. The most unfortunate people and the worst problems would get helped first –long before Johns Hopkins.

Our world isn’t perfect. But it is our duty to do everything in our power to make that way. Toward that end, billionaires like Michael Bloomberg ought to have their assets confiscated and redistributed, whether through revolutionary political change or – for the time being – high taxes.

If we can’t pull off nationalization or truly progressive taxation, if we are too weak, too disorganized and too apathetic to form the political movements that will liberate us, the least we should do is to denounce “generous” acts of philanthropy like Michael Bloomberg’s for what they are: arbitrary and self-serving attempts to deflect us from hating the rich and the inequality they embody.

(Ted Rall’s website is tedrall.com. His book “After We Kill You, We Will Welcome You Back As Honored Guests: Unembedded in Afghanistan” will be released in November by Farrar, Straus & Giroux.)

COPYRIGHT 2013 TED RALL

30 thoughts on “SYNDICATED COLUMN: Against Philanthropy

  1. @Ted

    “The right wing of the Republican Party keeps punishing moderate Republicans for not being conservative enough, and guess what, the Republican Party reacts by moving to the right.”

    Yes, because, AS I KEEP SAYING- every time you try to punish your candidate, the only message you actually wind up sending them is “move right”. Since the right wing of the party actually WANTS their candidates to move right, this WORKS for them. Since the left wing of the Democratic party DOES NOT WANT their candidates to move right, this strategy WILL NEVER work for them.

    “Unless you believe that the laws of physics only work in one direction politically, it stands to reason that progressive Democrats should be able to push the party to the left by punishing Democrats for not being liberal enough.”

    The laws of political physics work fine, if you actually understand them. If you cause your candidates to lose, it will move the party right. If you want the party to do the opposite of moving right, do the opposite of what you’re doing. It really is just that simple.

    “Another problem with your theory is that it assumes that liberals have been able to successfully punish the Democratic Party for not being far enough to the left.”

    No, it recognizes the fact that there IS NO WAY to punish liberals for not being left enough that will not backfire and move them right. The Punishment strategy has never worked, isn’t working and will never work. Even the most casual, objective glance at history will confirm this.

    “If the left becomes organized and powerful enough to successfully punish right-wing Democrats, the Democratic Party will necessarily have to move to the left.”

    False. There is NO WAY to punish Democrats that will not move them right. And attempting to punish Democrats has only led to (and will continue to lead to) the increasing marginalization of progressive voices. There is however a way to coax the Democratic party left- but it starts with the abandonment of the failed punishment strategy.

    The left can either accept these facts and make progress on the goals they claim to want, or keep being stuck on their failed punishment strategy for whatever reason (though as time goes by, “addicted to the emotional high from bashing Democrats” seems more and more likely), and as it fails, keep pushing the party- and by extension, the country-further and further right until we go right off the edge of a cliff and crash.

  2. “@Whim: “There are other, less costly options that just aren’t being tried right now. We need to exhaust those first, before pinning our hopes on a revolution half a century or more in the future.”

    See, you always say that. But you never say what.”

    @Ted -That’s crap and you know it. I’ve said what over a dozen times, you just keep tuning it out because it would require you to put what is good for the country over what you WANT.

    I mean, I was half-joking about an “emotional high”, but the more I think about it, the less I can think of another reason why you’d want to stick with the strategy of bashing Democrats; a strategy that has spectacularly failed to improve the Democratic party even slightly.

    You want to know what to do? I’ve said it 100 times, but I’ll say it again:

    Stop.
    Driving.
    The.
    Democratic.
    Party.
    Right.

    EVERY time you attempt to punish a Democrat for not moving far enough left, fast enough to suit you, you shove the party to the right. As a strategy, it’s been failing for 40 years, I’dve thought you’d get a clue by now.

    ” Working within the Democratic Party and hoping that one of these days they finally notice us? Liberals have been doing that for decades and it hasn’t gotten them anywhere. ”

    This is false. Liberals stopped working within the Democratic party in the early 70’s, in favor of a strategy designed to punish Democrats when they didn’t get whatever they wanted, immediatley. As anyone with any sense can tell you, it was, and is, a spectacular failure.

    The sooner liberals go back to REWARDING Democrats for moving left, instead of trying to punish them, the sooner progress will be made on their goals.

    “Working within the existing system is certainly okay as part of an overall strategy, but they can’t be the whole thing. For the most part, real resistance takes place in the street and is extremely aggressive.”

    My thinking on this has changed slightly: An ORGANIZED, DISCPLINED, protest movement under the DIRECT CONTROL of people who are working to put people who will listen in office might work.

    Mastabutory mic check nonense like OWS with their attitude of being “too good, too pure for electoral politics”? Won’t work ever.

    “As for revolution in half a century or more in the future, there I think you are actually completely insane. We don’t have that much time”

    That was actually a typo on my part, that shouldve read “half a milenium”. Because if there is a revolution in the next 50 years it will be a miserable failure leading directly into a fascist theocracy. By advocating a revolution that has a chance of success that is so small as to be statistically insignifcant you are playing directly into the right’s hands. The revolution I was referring to was the one to overthrow the fascist theocracy your failed revolution will usher in. The far right WANTS a revolution. That alone is reason enough not to have one.

    As for not having enough time, that’s crap. One of the reasons you think that is because your strategy has pissed away the last 40 years. Yet you keep doing it. Once you stop doing it and adopt a strategy that will start the pendulum back left, you’ll be amazed at how much time there is.

    Hell, I won’t even demand equal time- if you try things my way for HALF the time your strategy has pissed away and there’s not substiantial improvement, I’ll get on board with your revolution. Until I get that 20 year real world trial, I’ll keep screaming that there are better, smarter, less costly alternatives to revolution til my last breath.

    “The existing system will never last another 50 years even if nobody ever challenges it again.”

    The system will evolve or devolve in 50 years, true enough. You’re pushing it the wrong way.

    “The economy is completely unsustainable, unemployment is too high, the inequality of wealth doesn’t allow the GDP to continue to increase at an adequate rate to keep the Ponzi scheme that is American capitalism going, pollution is too high, the oceans are rising, climate change is making everything weird and expensive and dangerous.”

    All the MORE reason for liberals to abandon a strategy that exacerbates these things and start using one that ameliorates them. All of these things are PLANNED CONSEQUENCES designed to provoke a (designed to fail) revolution, and the left has been going along with this strategy for over 40 years, God knows why.

    @Alex-

    The people running the “liberal” fronts don’t care about the people who work for them. They don’t care if we have health care or drop dead from measles. They don’t care if we can read and write or whether the libraries stay open or burn through the night. ”

    Youre quite right, they don’t- which is precisely why my strategy will work. Once liberals stop expecting these people to do the right thing because its the right thing to do and start using pysch 101, tremendous progress will be made.

    Negative reinforcement has failed for 40+ years. Any psychologist will tell you that positive reinforcement is substantially more effective. So why aren’t we trying it?

    • @Whimsical: “EVERY time you attempt to punish a Democrat for not moving far enough left, fast enough to suit you, you shove the party to the right. As a strategy, it’s been failing for 40 years, I’dve thought you’d get a clue by now.”

      Sorry, maybe I’m not smart enough, but I simply can’t follow that logic. First we can look at the other side of the aisle. The right wing of the Republican Party keeps punishing moderate Republicans for not being conservative enough, and guess what, the Republican Party reacts by moving to the right. Unless you believe that the laws of physics only work in one direction politically, it stands to reason that progressive Democrats should be able to push the party to the left by punishing Democrats for not being liberal enough.

      Another problem with your theory is that it assumes that liberals have been able to successfully punish the Democratic Party for not being far enough to the left. We haven’t seen that. Not really. For example, when Joseph Lieberman lost his primary campaign in Connecticut a few years ago, that was a victory for the grassroots bloggers. But then he ran as an independent and secured reelection with the support of the national Democratic Party. The take away for me was that the progressive wing of the Democratic Party wasn’t powerful enough to successfully punish the national Democratic Party. Or at least not Joseph Lieberman.

      Looking again at the other side of the aisle, we see that the tea party and other right-wing factions are powerful enough to drive away moderate/centrist Republicans and drive the party to the right. It’s all about power.

      If the left becomes organized and powerful enough to successfully punish right-wing Democrats, the Democratic Party will necessarily have to move to the left. Frankly, this should be easier for liberals than for conservatives given the fact that the country is moving to the left demographically.

  3. @Ted: “…will simply go out and take the stuff that they need to live from the rich because not doing so would require them to lay down and die, something that people just don’t do no matter how many antidepressants they’ve been sucking down through the water supply.”

    I agree with the jist sentiment, but actually many of the poor do exactly that in North Korea. Occasionally these people then get announcements that they should “have more respect for their city and clean their dead out of the street” and actually do so at the command of their Great Leader. I doubt this would fly in the US, people would definitely revolt way before then hence my agreement with you. But the point is, that while you are right things likely won’t go that far in the States, some poor people do actually go lay down and die when asked to with the right brainwashing and coercion.

  4. Actually I guess the elite did lose Rhodesia, but I can’t think of any other time they actually had their estates confiscated. But they are in the process of smashing Zimbabwe. I won’t put it past them to extract reparations from that poor country when Mugabe dies.

  5. Yeah, OK. That 1000 year comment was trollish. My real point was about tax deductions, but the 1000 years is what everyone picked up on so here goes.

    Of course no one can predict 50 years in the future let alone 1000, but if history is our guide, Anglo Saxon elite will find a way to passify the masses. They’ve done it successfully for the last 1000 years. Perhaps their greatest challenge was how to maintain their status in South Africa. Yup. They did it. The Romans and Nazi’s were not defeated by revolutions. They were defeated by barbarions at the gates. The Anglo Saxon elite are very methodically coopting and crushing any potential barbarions anywhere in the world. These elites are not going anywhere any time soon.

    However I think they do face a huge challenge. Automation is so successful that they have virtually wiped out the unskilled middle class they allowed in the Industrial Revolution, but those unskilled workers have not forgotten what life was like when they were paid middle class wages. Now the information revolution is on the verge of wiping out the “service industry” lower class class they force the former middle class to accept. After they’ve replaceed all the checkout counter workers with “self checkout” kiosks, and replaced all the waiters and waitresses with conveyor belt sushi, and replaced all the stock boys with robots, and google self driving cars replace taxi drivers and bus drivers. What will be left for the masses??? I don’t know. The elites are going to have to figure that out. Are they going to go with the 1950 sci vision of everyone becoming a well fed chillin’ artist, or the 1980 sci vision of a homeless drug addicted world with nasty police protecting the elite. If not my generation, the millenials will certainly have to deal ith this. Good thing they are so darn optimistic!

  6. Ted,

    “Working within the Democratic Party and hoping that one of these days they finally notice us? Liberals have been doing that for decades and it hasn’t gotten them anywhere.”

    I’m just gonna jump in for a second on that. One thing I’ve noticed for decades now is that when you want to find someone who’s cheap, I mean really pettily cheap, you can’t go wrong by turning to a “liberal.” (This is not to say that the conservatives don’t have their cheapskates, too, but I’m just focusing on the libs here.)

    I remember a dinner party I was at about 10 years ago. Two older people were talking about their daughter who had just graduated from college about three years ago. And they were talking about how she got an internship at “The Nation.” And they were very frank and straightforward about how it paid almost nothing, how the daughter had to depend on handouts from them to be able to have the internship.

    And it’s an unbroken string. The Nation, Ralph Nader, HuffPost, etc., it’s always one so-called liberal after another bitching and moaning about economic justice and 15 feet away from their office is a cadre of chumps toiling for nothing or almost-nothing.

    You see, I expect the Rush Limbaughs of the world, people who make so many millions that they could give away a four-year scholarship every day until they die and never even notice, to act like every 15% tip is leaving them in a cold-water flat with bill collectors pounding on the door.

    But it’s the “liberals” who make millions and treat their employees like slaves and pay them like serfs that really grind my gears. And it’s demonstrates why Whimsical’s notion that one day change from within will carry the day is bunk. The people running the “liberal” fronts don’t care about the people who work for them. They don’t care if we have health care or drop dead from measles. They don’t care if we can read and write or whether the libraries stay open or burn through the night.

    George Carlin summed it up perfectly when he talked about abortion in this country. The white women, who were the majority of the ones we ever saw or heard on television, didn’t care about minority issues. They were concerned with their own reproductive freedom. And it’s the same thing now with the Naders and Huffingtons and all the rest. They talk a good game, but when you get right down to it, they’re just as greedy and selfish as all the others.

  7. The point is, it’s no accident that the war on drugs diverts revolutionary mojo. Our elites are not as stupid as they seem. They saw what happened to the Romanovs and Louis the 16th. I assume that their evil economists have actually calculated a “misery index” of some kind, which if it hits 100%, revolution erupts. They keep us at 75%. Maximizing their extraction but not taking so much so as to push us over the edge. I’m worried that we might drag along like this for a very long time.

  8. Aaron,

    Thank you for your excellent point. It’s not only one I haven’t seen discussed enough, but it also fills in the missing piece I couldn’t come up with. You see, for years now, I’ve been wondering why there aren’t “heiress kidnappings” like with Patty Hearst. As a few people know, Hearst’s kidnappers first demanded the release of some prisoners. The governor of California wouldn’t go for that, so the SLA decided instead to demand that Hearst’s very rich family distribute food and medicines to the poor in California.

    I’ve always wondered why that behavior didn’t catch on. When the War on Drugs finally wraps up, I suspect it will. Poor, heavily armed people with nothing to lose will motor on up to some prep school, cap a few teachers, grab some kids, and (thank you stolen iPhones that can be used once and tossed), the demands will start coming in.

    We might get socialized medicine yet.

    • @Alex, In the Anti-American Manifesto, I posited the same thing – that as things get tougher, as food and other resources get more scarce, the politics will go out the window and the poor will simply go out and take the stuff that they need to live from the rich because not doing so would require them to lay down and die, something that people just don’t do no matter how many antidepressants they’ve been sucking down through the water supply.

  9. We have, what, something like 1,000,000 gangbangers in this country. These guys are pissed off, they are armed, and they have completely turned their backs on “normal” society. But thanks to the wonderfully wicked wizardry that is the war on drugs, these would be revolutioniaries fight not against the man, but rather, to get dat paper. Damn you! oh smart oppressors!

  10. @alex-

    Oh, I don’t deny most governments arose out of revolution. Nor do I believe that the current system can continue indefinitely without being toppled. Hell, I actually believe there probably will be sucessful revolutions in the future (I figure the one that will arise after 250-300 years of the fascist theocracy that is coming will probably be successful).

    But betting on a revolution right now to improve things is a sucker’s bet. It’s giving the right the last thing they need for their endgame, and complete the transformation of America into a fascist theocracy. It’s dooming the next several generations to a brutal, boot-in-their-face type of rule. It’s making things worse for the 99% in every way you can possibly imagine.

    And the sad thing is, if that was the ONLY way we could eventually make things better, I’d be for it. But we just aren’t THERE yet. There are other, less costly options that just aren’t being tried right now. We need to exhaust those first, before pinning our hopes on a revolution half a century or more in the future.

    Russell-

    No,after his strawman, sek tossed an ad hom at me, and then went on to address TED’s point.

    As for my first post on this thread, it made two very real points and one half-serious, half-joking one. None of which were dealt with.

    And yes, I know more of you disagree with me then agree with me, and that’s fine. If I wanted to participate in a forum where everyone agreed with me, I’d change my entire belief system and be a Tea Party member instead.

    • @Whim: “There are other, less costly options that just aren’t being tried right now. We need to exhaust those first, before pinning our hopes on a revolution half a century or more in the future.”

      See, you always say that. But you never say what. What less costly options? Working within the Democratic Party and hoping that one of these days they finally notice us? Liberals have been doing that for decades and it hasn’t gotten them anywhere. The last time that liberals and progressives and socialist and other left of center types got anything done was when they actively protested a Democratic president – Lyndon B. Johnson – who by today’s standards would be a communist. Working within the existing system is certainly okay as part of an overall strategy, but they can’t be the whole thing. For the most part, real resistance takes place in the street and is extremely aggressive. As for revolution in half a century or more in the future, there I think you are actually completely insane. We don’t have that much time. The existing system will never last another 50 years even if nobody ever challenges it again. The economy is completely unsustainable, unemployment is too high, the inequality of wealth doesn’t allow the GDP to continue to increase at an adequate rate to keep the Ponzi scheme that is American capitalism going, pollution is too high, the oceans are rising, climate change is making everything weird and expensive and dangerous. It’s really hard to imagine how the current American government could still be around in 25 years.

  11. Here in semi-socialist Canada, charitable giving came under scrutiny when nimble opportunists began to work at organizing big donations with huge tax write-offs for the wealthy – lots of squealing – the government calmped down but there is now a different debate – should there be charitable write-offs at all. Early days.

  12. W – substance of your argument? Your FIRST post on this thread read “wedded to the emotional high you get from bashing Democrats”.

    S, unfortunately, responded in kind “bending over and taking whatever authoritarians shove your way” but he DID address your point after that.

    You have a point to make- one, anyway, over and over on thread after thread- but of all the people who post here I really do believe you are the one that is the most prone to make “ad homs”.

    Most of the people here don’t agree with you. Myself, I’m on the fence about it, but you are about the worst spokesman for your side that I can imagine.

  13. Whim,

    As to revolution and betting on it being for suckers.

    Most of the current governments emerged from revolution of some form. I say most because I’m sure there are some exceptions, but very few of the current governments on Earth started out fully formed from the head of Zeus. They came along and took power from another group that had previously been in charge (ask the Romanov family about that).

    Also, with the sole exception of Guy Fawkes Day in Merry Olde England, none of the holidays on the calendars commemorate the successful continuation of the previous power structure. All those holidays called Independence Day or Bastille Day or whatever are all about how the revolution won.

    This time around, however, there are three new conditions that are unique in world history.

    1. Communication is global, cheap, and complex. It isn’t send-a-20-word-wire-wait-six-weeks-for-the-plans-to-be-mailed anymore. I can send hundreds of pages of information and massively detailed images for almost nothing in minutes. If an e-mail bounces or isn’t received, it’s the work of seconds to redo it. If I have to physically send something, multiple services compete for the chance to deliver it for me in less than a day for less than the price of a good meal.

    2. The workforce is globally linked, rendering the union and collective bargaining irrelevant in many cases. Factory workers strike in New Jersey? Fine. The factory in China (paying 1/10th the wages with no benefits) is already cranking out the widgets. Let the New Jersey Factory Workers Union keep marching in a circle, people are still gonna race on down to Target to buy up their $5 waffle irons. The corporations (people, every single one of them) respond simply: “Hey, we have to think about our shareholders.”

    3. Transportation is now safe and reliable. Read “The Wealth of Nations.” One of the things Smith talks about is the risk to the merchant of transporting the goods. That’s because back when he wrote the book, a ship sailing with a load of cargo had a pretty good chance of sinking or being pirated. Land routes were also perilous. That risk is much, much lower now, and thus the factories can be situated further and further away at less and less of a cost-inconvenience.

    It all combines to render the whole system unwinnable for a whole lot of people. Not just here, but globally. Revolution may be a sucker’s bet, but thinking that the current system (whatever “current” you’re thinking of) is going to continue without an uprising that will topple it is also a bad bet.

    Neo-capitalism will eventually be overthrown, probably to be replaced with a form of “moral capitalism” in which the purpose of establishing a business is not primarily to make as much money as possible by putting the screws to the workers as hard as you can.

  14. Russell-

    You get what you give, friend. Treat me with respect and make an attempt to actually respond to the substance of my argument, you’ll get the same back. Come at me with strawmen and ad homs- you’ll get condescended to every single time. Sorry if it annoys YOU; annoying anyone other than sek with that particular response was not the goal.

  15. ” You just keep on trotting out those silly strawmen if it makes you feel important, dearie *pats you on the head* You’re so damn cute when you’re flailing.”

    And you, W, are incredibly annoying when you are condescending.

  16. Alex-

    Oh, you may not go quietly, but you’ll still go. And you wont like where you’re going, or what’s going to happen to the place you’re leaving behind. Betting on revolution is a sucker’s bet.

    Sek-

    You just keep on trotting out those silly strawmen if it makes you feel important, dearie *pats you on the head* You’re so damn cute when you’re flailing.

  17. “Anyone who denies that Jesus was a commie …”

    Anyone who has actually read the Bible AND the Manifesto sees a serious problem with this statement. Luke was a rabid Christian Socialist. In Acts 5, those who don’t hand all their means of production over to the common pool go to hell, and quickly, as they’re struck down by the deity. But in the Manifesto, Marx explains that every other Socialist sect is completely wrong and decent Marxists won’t have anything to do with them, and Luke’s sect of socialism is NOT Marx’s, so Luke was NOT a Marxist, and a fortiori, not a Commie.

    If those who believe in the Gospels (and the rest of the New Testament) could say, ‘We believe in common ownership of the means of production because we follow Jesus, but we agree that Marxists, though atheists, are doing exactly as Jesus wanted, so we’ll work with them,’ the Left would be better off. And if Marxists could say, ‘Christian socialists are doing everything Marx wanted because they think a non-existent deity wants them to, but at least they’re doing the right things, so we can work with them,’ the Left would have a chance. But Socialists divide into sects just as Christianity does, and each sect considers every other sect heretical and not true Socialists, and so the sects hate each other and cannot work together.

    Which is why I take a very Candide view of all optimists.

  18. Yes, exky, Rall is off the rails claiming something that was a tenet in Christianity for two thousand years. And considering how obscure Rall was back inna’ day and how much easier the web has been to get to his work, the idea that his “career is winding down” is as much bullshit as your beleaguered central thesis.

    But that was the point, right? Distract from an actual moral standpoint with a pathetic ad hominem: troll standard operating procedure.

    Andy:
    The USA in it’s current form is going to last 1000 years with slow incremental changes same as dear old England.

    WTF? Were you aware of the formation of the labour party? Are you freakn’ kidding me? the U.K. is far from paradise, but pretending that it was immune to social upheaval is batshit insane and willfully ignorant.

    Whymmy:
    YOU are too ideologically rigid, impatient, and wedded to the emotional high you get from bashing Democrats

    Bending over and taking whatever authoritarians shove your way isn’t ideological flexibility, Whymsy, it’s being a pathetic rightwing quisling. I understand you are completely devoid of anything approaching a principle, but know this: merely having any principles at all is not “ideological rigidity.”

    That all said, not only are there tax deductions that can make this “giving” actually profitable, the giver gains increased reputation that can be parlayed into further economic gains (as his “brand” has thereby improved). On top of that, there’s the sheer benefit of being undeservedly liked. After all, what’s a primate going to spend money on? Sex, food, toys, and entourage. If a jackass buys everyone in a bar a round so people ignore his wifebeating, do we give him a prize? (If we scale up his wealth and the crime, the answer is yes.)

    • @Andy: “The USA in it’s current form is going to last 1000 years with slow incremental changes same as dear old England.”

      Where did I hear that Thousand Year Reich thing before?

      Every regime always says that it will go on forever and ever and ever and probably even thinks that it’s true. But about the best thing that you can really hope for is something like the Roman Empire, and even then all they really had was a four century run. Considering that the United States is well into its third century, suggesting that this regime or this economic system will continue another 750 years or more is delusional.

  19. I’m more optimistic about the revolution coming than I’ve been for a while.

    Everything is cycling toward a world in which, quite frankly, a lot of us are unnecessary AND unwanted. And a lot of we Double-U’s will not go quietly.

  20. Another point, true charity is anonymous and not written off on taxes. If you write it off on your taxes, it is a tax deduction and not charity. If you put your name on it, it is ego, not charity.

  21. Its a good piece, but I have a major complaint in that you focused almost entirely on what I shall refer to as neutral philanthropy. You are right this is bad in that large sums of money (which were likely ill gotten and extracted from less affluent people in the first place) goes to institutions that don’t need it and probably won’t use it while poor people freeze. But another, I would argue more important, point, is that much of the so called “philanthropy” of the mega rich is in the form of coercive “philanthropy”. The money goes to ultra-right wing “think” tanks or Dady’s foundation, both of which are designed to inject toxic propaganda and programs into society so that the wealthy may not merely keep their ill gotten gains, but facilitate expanding their now more socially acceptable campaign of socio-economic rape and pillage. This is still considered tax deductible philanthropy and allows them to boast about how charitable they are in that they gave more money to charity then you did, so “shut up you impoverished and uncharitable ingrate and worship me in all my Christ-like goodness and glory.”

    You are certainly right to point out the follies of “neutral” philanthropy because of the sick fawning it gets in the press and general punditry and how it helps cover the tracks of ill gotten gains by sowing the image of “The Good Rich” who clearly must thus be great people as they have successfully bought a publicly acceptable modern form of an indulgence. But I still think it is critical to discuss or at least briefly mention and outline the far more toxic form of “coercive “philanthropy”” in a piece like this. (Note the two sets of quotes around “philanthropy” in the previous sentence is very much intentional).

  22. “if we are too weak, too disorganized and too apathetic to form the political movements that will liberate us”

    WE are not week, disorganized, or apathetic. YOU are too ideologically rigid, impatient, and wedded to the emotional high you get from bashing Democrats to see that the political movement you seek already exists- you’re just using it wrong.

  23. This column is a little over the top but the concept that we should not laud charity is absolutely correct. For these charitible donations to be truly charitible the individuals involved should keep the donations secret. I personally donate quite a lot of money to a local woman shelter, UC Berkeley, and SUNY Buffalo each each, but I don’t go blabbing about it to my friends. One thing we absolutely should get rid of: tax deductions for donations. It’s rediculous! Oh I gave money to so and so, therefore I don’t have to pay for the roads I use and the fire department. Bullshit! You you make the rest of us pay more, so that you can pay for your pet project.

    What I would like to see is rich guys bragging about how MUCH taxes they paid. How come we can’t get that culture going?

    As for the revolution. For get about it. Not gonna happen. Not now. Not for the forseeable future. The USA in it’s current form is going to last 1000 years with slow incremental changes same as dear old England. We’re Anglo-Sasons here, not excitable Gauls that like to change their governemnt every generation.

  24. You’re gone off the rails completely Ted. It seems that as your career winds down you’re just flailing about, lashing out and otherwise not making much sense. Pity. You had your run and did some great work, but this is just nuts.

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