Thursday, 28 December 2017

Against charity: against philanthropy

It's not just the universally-recognised reality that the poor give more than the rich:

Are the Rich Really Less Generous Than the Poor?

May 24, 2017 by Stephen J. Dubner

LISTEN NOW: Our latest Freakonomics Radio episode is called “Are the Rich Really Less Generous Than the Poor?”

A series of academic studies suggest that the wealthy are, to put it bluntly, selfish jerks. It’s an easy narrative to swallow —but is it true? A trio of economists set out to test the theory. All it took was a Dutch postal worker’s uniform, some envelopes stuffed with cash, and a slight sense of the absurd.

Are the Rich Really Less Generous Than the Poor? - Freakonomics Freakonomics

It's what the philanthropist chooses to spend their donations on:

Why the Rich Don't Give to Charity

The wealthiest Americans donate 1.3 percent of their income; the poorest, 3.2 percent. What's up with that?


Wealth affects not only how much money is given but to whom it is given. The poor tend to give to religious organizations and social-service charities, while the wealthy prefer to support colleges and universities, arts organizations, and museums. Of the 50 largest individual gifts to public charities in 2012, 34 went to educational institutions, the vast majority of them colleges and universities, like Harvard, Columbia, and Berkeley, that cater to the nation’s and the world’s elite. Museums and arts organizations such as the Metropolitan Museum of Art received nine of these major gifts, with the remaining donations spread among medical facilities and fashionable charities like the Central Park Conservancy. Not a single one of them went to a social-service organization or to a charity that principally serves the poor and the dispossessed. More gifts in this group went to elite prep schools (one, to the Hackley School in Tarrytown, New York) than to any of our nation’s largest social-service organizations, including United Way, the Salvation Army, and Feeding America (which got, among them, zero).

Underlying our charity system—and our tax code—is the premise that individuals will make better decisions regarding social investments than will our representative government. Other developed countries have a very different arrangement, with significantly higher individual tax rates and stronger social safety nets, and significantly lower charitable-contribution rates. We have always made a virtue of individual philanthropy, and Americans tend to see our large, independent charitable sector as crucial to our country’s public spirit. There is much to admire in our approach to charity, such as the social capital that is built by individual participation and volunteerism. But our charity system is also fundamentally regressive, and works in favor of the institutions of the elite. The pity is, most people still likely believe that, as Michael Bloomberg once said, “there’s a connection between being generous and being successful.” There is a connection, but probably not the one we have supposed.

Why the Rich Don't Give to Charity - The Atlantic

Earlier this year saw the demise of David Rockefeller, 'the world's oldest philanthropist', the grandson of the granddaddy of philanthropy, John D Rockefeller:
Philanthropist David Rockefeller Dies at 101 | News | PND
World's oldest billionaire David Rockefeller dies age 101 | Daily Mail Online

Indeed, a century ago, the "class question"—who would control industrial profits, who would set wages, whether capitalism was even compatible with democracy—was at the forefront of American politics, the impetus for mass uprisings, partisan warfare, and, for some, the hope of full-blown revolution:
The Rockefellers and class warfare - Slate

It was then that we saw the creation of Public Relations:


By Sean Braswell OCT 24 2015

When the 1,000 men, women and children living in a tent city near Ludlow, Colorado, first saw the National Guard approaching in the fall of 1913, they greeted them with rousing cheers. But the guardsmen had not been sent to protect the striking coal miners from the daily attacks of vigilante gunmen stationed outside the camp — they were there to protect the investment of the Colorado Fuel & Iron Corp., owned by John D. Rockefeller Jr., who happened to be bankrolling both the vigilantes and the guardsmen.

Six months later, on April 20, 1914, those remaining in the camp were sprayed with machine-gun fire by the guardsmen, and the tent colony was torched, killing at least 66, including two women and 11 children who suffocated in a pit they had dug beneath their tent to escape the bullets. The strike failed, but the bloody Ludlow Massacre was a public relations disaster for Rockefeller — one so bad that it required the birth of modern corporate PR to remedy the situation and salvage Rockefeller’s charred legacy from the smoldering ash of the miners’ tents.

“[S]ince the dawn of representative democracy, corporations and political elites have used public relations and lobbying to subvert and subdue democracy,” argue David Miller and William Dinan in A Century of Spin: How Public Relations Became the Cutting Edge of Corporate Power. Still, while publicists had occasionally penned puff pieces to defend company interests from muckraking journalists in the late 19th century, true corporate spin doctors like Ivy Lee, sometimes called the father of public relations, did not emerge until events like Ludlow demanded their talents.

Lee, a Princeton economics grad, had been a muckraking journalist himself, until the long hours and low pay drove him and a friend to open one of the nation’s first PR firms — dedicated to bringing the journalistic principles of “accuracy, authenticity and interest” to the embryonic PR field. For Lee, it was about transparency and helping companies get out in front of potential controversies. For example, U.S. railroad companies had long failed to acknowledge fatal accidents on railway lines, but Lee made sure that reporters were briefed and allowed to inspect the accident scene and question officials, successfully deflecting unwarranted criticism in the press.

But Lee was also a student of what he called the psychology of the multitude and believed that publicity worked best when trained professionals played on “the imagination or emotion of the public.” Presentation was paramount, and the facts, well, they were flexible. As the philosophical Lee put it, “What is a fact? The effort to state an absolute fact is simply an attempt to … give you my interpretation of the facts.”

Ivy Lee’s interpretative skills would be tested like never before in the wake of Ludlow. Earlier, John D. Rockefeller Jr., obsessed with burnishing his father’s robber baron image, had testified before Congress about the miners’ desire to unionize to win better wages and working conditions. Asked two weeks before the massacre if he would stick to his anti-union principle even “if it costs all your property and kills all your employees,” Rockefeller had chillingly replied, “It is a great principle.”

The whole episode, according to an official statement from Rockefeller, was “to be regretted,” but the “defenders of law and property … were in no slightest way responsible for it.”

And that was just the start of Rockefeller’s rehabilitation. The following year, after the miners had returned to work, the industrialist made a well-publicized visit to Ludlow, where he ate with the laborers and announced a plan to address worker grievances. And over time, Lee’s client was recast as a humanitarian and philanthropist, a reputation he still enjoys today.

The Bloody Birth of Corporate PR | Flashback | OZY
100 Years of Modern Public Relations - The Ludlow Massacre

The incident also saw the birth of 'philanthropy':

Power Politics and the Empire of Economics: An Introduction

Andrew Gavin Marshall
MAY 27, 2015 7:00 AM / 9 COMMENTS

But the global financial mafia – and the oligarchs and dynasties who sit at its core – cannot wield significant influence without the political legitimacy that comes with state power. 
Successful financial dynasties (with the Rockefellers as perhaps the best example) establish complex networks of influence, building institutions and supporting ideologies that in turn influence the state and shape the minds and careers of those who rise through it. 
The Rockefeller family established the University of Chicago and have long been patrons of Harvard. They created philanthropic foundations which provided strategic funding to universities, research centers, think tanks and international forums, having a lasting impact on the shaping of the social sciences (notably Political Science and Economics). 
The Rockefeller name has made its imprint on some of the most influential American and international think tanks and forums, including the Council on Foreign Relations, the Bilderberg meetings and the Trilateral Commission, which was founded by David Rockefeller in 1973 in an effort to encourage cooperation between the ‘trilateral’ regions of North America, Western Europe and Japan.

Bringing Down the Empire: Challenging the Institutions of Domination

Andrew Gavin Marshall
MARCH 12, 2012 5:33 PM / 4 COMMENTS

Though it was in the 19th century that revolutionary ideas and new philosophies of resistance emerged in response to the increasing wealth and domination at the top, and the increasing repression and exploitation of the rest. 
In reaction to this development, elites sought out new forms of social control. Educational institutions facilitated the rise of a new intellectual elite, which, in turn, redefined the concept of democracy to be an elite-guided structure, defined and controlled by that very same intellectual elite. 
This led to the development of new concepts of propaganda and power. This elite created the major philanthropic foundations which came to act as “engines of social engineering,” taking a dominant role in the shaping of a global society and world order over the 20th century.

Bilderberg 2011: The Rockefeller World Order and the “High Priests of Globalization”

Andrew Gavin Marshall
JULY 15, 2011 3:59 PM / 46 COMMENTS

The fact that the major American foundations – Rockefeller, Carnegie, and Ford – were so pivotal in the origins of the Bilderberg Group is not a mere coincidence. The foundations have, since their founding at the beginning of the 20th century, been the central institutions in constructing consensus among elites, and creating consent to power. They are, in short, the engines of social engineering: both for elite circles specifically, and society as a whole, more generally. As Professor of Education Robert F. Arnove wrote in his book Philanthropy and Cultural Imperialism:

Foundations like Carnegie, Rockefeller, and Ford have a corrosive influence on a democratic society; they represent relatively unregulated and unaccountable concentrations of power and wealth which buy talent, promote causes, and, in effect, establish an agenda of what merits society’s attention. They serve as “cooling-out” agencies, delaying and preventing more radical, structural change. They help maintain an economic and political order, international in scope, which benefits the ruling-class interests of philanthropists and philanthropoids – a system which… has worked against the interests of minorities, the working class, and Third World peoples.[8]

These foundations had been central in promoting the ideology of ‘globalism’ that laid the groundwork for organizations such as the Council on Foreign Relations and the Bilderberg Group to exist. The Rockefeller Foundation, in particular, supported several organizations that promoted a ‘liberal internationalist’ philosophy, the aim of which:

was to support a foreign policy within a new world order that was to feature the United States as the leading power – a programme defined by the Rockefeller Foundation as ‘disinterested’, ‘objective’ and even ‘non-political’… The construction of a new internationalist consensus required the conscious, targeted funding of individuals and organizations who questioned and undermined the supporters of the ‘old order’ while simultaneously promoting the ‘new’.[9]

The major foundations funded and created not only policy-oriented institutes such as think tanks, but they were also pivotal in the organization and construction of universities and education itself, in particular, the study of ‘international relations.’[10] The influence of foundations over education and universities and thus, ‘knowledge’ itself, is unparalleled. As noted in the book, Philanthropy and Cultural Imperialism:

The power of the foundation is not that of dictating what will be studied. Its power consists in defining professional and intellectual parameters, in determining who will receive support to study what subjects in what settings. And the foundation’s power resides in suggesting certain types of activities it favors and is willing to support. As [political theorist and economist Harold] Laski noted, “the foundations do not control, simply because, in the direct and simple sense of the word, there is no need for them to do so. They have only to indicate the immediate direction of their minds for the whole university world to discover that it always meant to gravitate to that angle of the intellectual compass.”[11]

The major philanthropic foundations created by America’s ‘robber baron’ industrialists and bankers were established not to benefit mankind, as was their stated purpose, but to benefit the bankers and industrialist elites in order to engage in social engineering. Through banks, these powerful families controlled the global economy; through think tanks, they manage the political and foreign policy establishments; and through foundations, they engineer society itself according to their own designs and interests. Through these foundations, elites have come to shape the processes, ideas and institutions of education, thus ensuring their continued hegemony over society through the production and control of knowledge. The educational institutions train future elites for government, economics, sciences, and other professional environments, as well as producing the academics that make up the principle component of think tanks, such as the Bilderberg Group.

Foundations effectively “blur boundaries” between the public and private sectors, while simultaneously effecting the separation of such areas in the study of social sciences. This boundary erosion between public and private spheres “adds feudal elements to our purported democracy, yet it has not been resisted, protested, or even noted much by political elites or social scientists.”[12] Zbigniew Brzezinski, foreign policy strategist, former director of the Council on Foreign Relations, Bilderberg member and co-founder with David Rockefeller of the Trilateral Commission, wrote that the blurring of boundaries “serves United States world dominance”:

As the imitation of American ways gradually pervades the world, it creates a more congenial setting for the exercise of the indirect and seemingly consensual American hegemony. And as in the case of the domestic American system, that hegemony involves a complex structure of interlocking institutions and procedures, designed to generate consensus and obscure asymmetries in power and influence.[13]

In 1915, a Congressional investigation into the power of philanthropic foundations took place, named the Walsh Commission, which warned that, “the power of wealth could overwhelm democratic culture and politics.”[14] The Final Report of the Walsh Commission “suggested that foundations would be more likely to pursue their own ideology in society than social objectivity.”[15] In this context, we can come to understand the evolution of the Bilderberg Group as an international think tank aimed at constructing consensus and entrenching ideology among the elite.

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