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Current Events & Hot Topics Current Events & Hot Topics

Rich people’s idea of charity: Giving to elite schools and operas

Posted by on Dec. 14, 2013 at 3:22 PM
  • 76 Replies

The wealthy aren't donating to food shelters. They're giving to Yale and fancy theaters for a tax deduction ROBERT REICH, ROBERTREICH.ORG

It’s charity time, and not just because the holiday season reminds us to be charitable. As the tax year draws to a close, the charitable tax deduction beckons.

America’s wealthy are its largest beneficiaries. According to the Congressional Budget Office, $33 billion of last year’s $39 billion in total charitable deductions went to the richest 20 percent of Americans, of whom the richest 1 percent reaped the lion’s share.

The generosity of the super-rich is sometimes proffered as evidence they’re contributing as much to the nation’s well-being as they did decades ago when they paid a much larger share of their earnings in taxes. Think again.

Undoubtedly, super-rich family foundations, such as the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, are doing a lot of good. Wealthy philanthropic giving is on the rise, paralleling the rise in super-rich giving that characterized the late nineteenth century, when magnates (some called them “robber barons”) like Andrew Carnegie and John D. Rockefeller established philanthropic institutions that survive today.

But a large portion of the charitable deductions now claimed by America’s wealthy are for donations to culture palaces – operas, art museums, symphonies, and theaters – where they spend their leisure time hobnobbing with other wealthy benefactors. Another portion is for contributions to the elite prep schools and universities they once attended or want their children to attend. (Such institutions typically give preference in admissions, a kind of affirmative action, to applicants and “legacies” whose parents have been notably generous.)

Harvard, Yale, Princeton, and the rest of the Ivy League are worthy institutions, to be sure, but they’re not known for educating large numbers of poor young people. (The University of California at Berkeley, where I teach, has more poor students eligible for Pell Grants than the entire Ivy League put together.) And they’re less likely to graduate aspiring social workers and legal defense attorneys than aspiring investment bankers and corporate lawyers.

I’m all in favor of supporting fancy museums and elite schools, but face it: These aren’t really charities as most people understand the term. They’re often investments in the life-styles the wealthy already enjoy and want their children to have as well. Increasingly, being rich in America means not having to come across anyone who’s not.

by on Dec. 14, 2013 at 3:22 PM
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Replies (1-10):
fireangel5
by Gold Member on Dec. 14, 2013 at 4:14 PM
12 moms liked this

I don't really see how it's anyones business whom people donate their money to. Nor do I understand taking time to investigate this. 

tanyainmizzou
by on Dec. 14, 2013 at 4:17 PM
3 moms liked this

Class Warfare.


That way they can still point out how incredibly selfish the rich are, despite the fact the top 40% pay 106% of the income taxes. 

Quoting fireangel5:

I don't really see how it's anyones business whom people donate their money to. Nor do I understand taking time to investigate this. 


jessilin0113
by Platinum Member on Dec. 14, 2013 at 4:21 PM
7 moms liked this
Yeah, private charity should TOTALLY take over welfare ~
momtoscott
by Platinum Member on Dec. 14, 2013 at 4:25 PM

The top 40% pay income taxes out of the goodness of their hearts?  I thought we (cause that percentage includes my family) paid taxes because we're required to.   

However, I am all for people donating to the charity of their choice, and to support culture as well as food and shelter.   Part of my family's contributions go to arts organizations as well as soup kitchens.  

It's partly self interest, though, to keep this area of the economy running.  My first job out of college was as a clarinetist in an opera company, until the company started bouncing checks and went kaput.

Quoting tanyainmizzou:

Class Warfare.


That way they can still point out how incredibly selfish the rich are, despite the fact the top 40% pay 106% of the income taxes. 

Quoting fireangel5:

I don't really see how it's anyones business whom people donate their money to. Nor do I understand taking time to investigate this. 



Liastele
by Member on Dec. 14, 2013 at 4:26 PM
3 moms liked this

Wah, wah, people gave their money to something they believe in. How horrid! *eyeroll*

stacymomof2
by Ruby Member on Dec. 14, 2013 at 4:26 PM
4 moms liked this

This is in response to people's claims that charity could be substituted for government intervention.   It's not really anyone's "business" however if much of the charity is given to these kinds of charities it's not exactly helping the people who need it most.

Quoting fireangel5:

I don't really see how it's anyones business whom people donate their money to. Nor do I understand taking time to investigate this. 


stacymomof2
by Ruby Member on Dec. 14, 2013 at 4:30 PM
10 moms liked this

How much income are the top 40%  making compared to the percentage of taxes they are paying?

Class warfare, lol.  What is class warfare is claiming that this country is being bankrupted by hungry people rather than corporations and the top 1%, who are taking the poor's money and yours.

Quoting tanyainmizzou:

Class Warfare.


That way they can still point out how incredibly selfish the rich are, despite the fact the top 40% pay 106% of the income taxes. 

Quoting fireangel5:

I don't really see how it's anyones business whom people donate their money to. Nor do I understand taking time to investigate this. 



stacymomof2
by Ruby Member on Dec. 14, 2013 at 4:32 PM
1 mom liked this

That's not really the issue here.  Nobody said it was "horrid" and nobody was crying.  It's a statement about charitable donations.

Quoting Liastele:

Wah, wah, people gave their money to something they believe in. How horrid! *eyeroll*


UpSheRises
by Platinum Member on Dec. 14, 2013 at 6:19 PM
7 moms liked this
Well, as a poor person whose child attends an elite school on a partial scholarship...I'm depending on those donations.
turtle68
by Mahinaarangi on Dec. 14, 2013 at 6:44 PM
2 moms liked this


Quoting fireangel5:

I don't really see how it's anyones business whom people donate their money to. Nor do I understand taking time to investigate this. 

I dont care who and where people donate...it is there money to do that.  

I do however think they shouldnt be able to claim it as a charitable tax deduction.  Technically it is....and so it can be....but personally I think that tax deduction should get rewritten.

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