This week we’re asking whether philanthropy is bad for democracy. Philanthropy funds scholarships for needy students. It builds libraries, hospitals, and museums. What's not to like? For starters, we shouldn't let those good things blind us to the corrosive harm that philanthropy does—especially to democracy.
What is it
In a liberal democracy, individuals should have the freedom to give money to charities of their choice. But there’s a difference between charitable giving from ordinary individuals and philanthropic giving from extremely wealthy individuals. Whose interests are served when the wealthy give? Should the state continue to encourage big philanthropy with massive tax breaks for the rich? Or should it focus more on taxing extreme wealth? Is big philanthropy destroying democracy? Josh and Ken take alms from Stanford political scientist Rob Reich, author of Just Giving: Why Philanthropy Is Failing Democracy and How It Can Do Better.