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/

Neighbors wait for numbers to be called at a New York City free food pantry.

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.”


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