Video: Some More News Takes Down Billionaire Philanthropists

I’ll have a post up on the Gulf Stream/AMOC news tomorrow, but I had other things to do today, and I’m too fried for a real post. Instead, you get the good folks at Some More News to explain how billionaire philanthropy is a scam.


  1. John Morales says

    If scams are bad, and if billionaire philanthropy is a scam, then billionaire philanthropy is bad. Therefore, billionaires should not be philanthropic.

  2. sonofrojblake says

    The thing that always strikes me is – aren’t these people ashamed? I mean – I’m working class. By which I mean – I have to work, to pay my mortgage, my bills etc.

    I’d like very much to not be working class – to have enough salted away that I didn’t NEED to work, that all my foreseeable bills for the rest of my life could never impact my wealth, and that my two kids could expect to live the same way. I estimate that about ten million quid would cover it. I don’t want/need a yacht, or a Bugatti, or a stately home, or a helicopter. I want/need an absolute maximum of three cars (one more than I already have). If anything, I want LESS “stuff” than I actually have.

    But here’s the thing – if you gave me TWENTY million, my immediate action would be to secure my future and my kids’ future with the ten or so I think it would take… then think of how I could most satisfyingly give away the rest. If you gave me twenty BILLION… I think I could make a full-time job just out of thinking of ways to give it away. I’d be disappointed in myself and ashamed if I didn’t. Utlimately, I think being a billionaire is a moral failure.

    I’m not against people being rich to the point they have nice things and don’t need to work. I am against people being so rich they have to invent things to spend money on, like superyachts and Bugatti Veyrons (out of date reference, insert whatever the ridiculous vehicle of choice is this decade). It’s a failure of humanity.

  3. Dunc says

    @3: The thing is, your desires are always relative to your baseline. For about 50% of humanity, your “modest” wants / needs are every bit as absurdly luxurious and unecessary as the superyacht and the Bugatti seem to you, and they’d almost certainly say that if you gave them twenty thousand, they’d give half of it away.

    I’m now vastly better off than I ever imagined being when I was younger, and yet I still always find that my ideal level of wealth is always just a bit out of reach from where I am. For example, I have a two-bed flat all to myself – which is an absurd luxury to a great many people in Britain these days, and would have seemed so to me not all that long ago – but I still feel I could use a bit more space. On the other hand, I don’t even have one car, and don’t really feel the lack of it, yet you have two, and still feel you want another.

    As far as I can see, that sort of thing just never really tops out. You make your first million, or ten million, or whatever, you enjoy it for a year or two, but pretty soon you start thinking “this is OK, but a bit more wouldn’t go wrong”… Seems to be human nature – we’re all about relative comparisons, not absolute ones, and we’re never quite satisfied with what we’ve got.

  4. says

    I think there’s ample evidence that extreme wealth, or the process of GETTING extreme wealth, does serious damage to the human mind.

    I think some of it comes from a sincere belief in the dogmas of neoliberal capitalism, but beyond pathological greed, it’s important to remember that money equals power, especially in a capitalist society. People with hundreds of millions and up are aristocracy, and they tend to love power, and want more of it. The notion of empowering others, without some direct benefit to themselves, seems to be honestly offensive to some of them.

  5. Dunc says

    I guess I’m just a bit nervous about concluding that there’s something intrisically wrong with people who are better off than me, when I’m much better off than the vast majority of humanity*. It seems unlikely that the threshold for having something intrinsically wrong with you just happens to lie in the sliver of the distribution that’s above me, but below those bastards.

    * It’s worth remembering that 50% of the people alive today are living on less than $7 a day. For a typical human lifetime of 70 years, that equates to a bit less than $180,000 for their entire lives. I have more than that in net assets right now, and I’ll earn it over again in about 3 years. By global standards, I’m one of those bastards. Hell, I’m in the top decile (for income, not total wealth) here in the UK… And yet, I only have what would generally be regarded as a fairly modest middle-class lifestyle by UK standards – I don’t own a car, I can’t remember the last time I had a foreign holiday, and I don’t expect to pay off my mortgage before I hit 67. But on the other hand, I couldn’t tell you how much a pint of milk costs, and I don’t time my visits to the supermarket to co-incide with when they put out the cheap stuff that’s just about to go out of date.

    On the other other hand, if I were to sell up, move to some low-income country, and content myself with a one-room shack and a simple diet (which would still be a pretty good life, by the standards of the majority of humanity), I could retire tomorrow, and probably fund a small orphanage on the side. Who’s the greedy bastard aristocrat here, really?

  6. says

    You can make a case (as the video does) that Dolly Parton is an exception to the rule.

    When it comes to you personally, no, I don’t think you’re “one of those bastards”, unless you’re worth hundreds of millions of dollars. A lot of has to do with what power you do or don’t have to make real change. The biggest problem is people who are worth thousands of millions.

    I’m also not saying that we need to kill all rich people – just that we should no longer design the world around their interests, and their excess wealth should matter less than anyone’s right to shelter. I’m not super worried about “hurting” some nice people by building a world in which those people won’t ever have to worry about homelessness either.

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