How I feel about the philanthropy of billionaires

Only the Onion can do the best job of what it means when a billionaire gives someone a million dollars. Who’d you gouge that money out of in the first place, Bill?


  1. says

    Probably a good place to drop a reminder that all the high-profile rich people who announced that they were donating to repair Notre Dame have reneged and backed out because they couldn’t get the cathedral to let them control the repairs or plaster their names all over the building.

  2. says

    The onion article is very funny, obviously referring to some psychopath, but PZ’s stance on it, once again shows a complete misunderstanding of what money is. Money isn’t pie. Money isn’t organs. When PZ posts stuff like this, it makes me think that he believes that if you just printed and gave everyone a million dollars, everyone would be rich and get everything they ever wanted. Related, I wonder how many of PZ’s former students had to indirectly pay him for his classes and never used any of the material they learned. Talk about “gouging” eh?

  3. a_ray_in_dilbert_space says

    George Norman,
    Funny. I have a PhD in physics and I’ve used just about every technique, trick and fact I ever learned. If you aren’t, I’d say that is on you.
    As to understanding money–can you point to anyone who does? There are so many different roles for and types of money that the very notion of “money” has become absurd.

    One of the things that makes it absurd is the extreme lack of equity in its distribution. What kind of kooky system would have a couple dozen Scrooge McDucks control more of the economy than the bottom 50%? And what possible service or task could a single individual perform that would merit $1 billion? Now look at the tasks that have been performed that have actually led to these great fortunes–building monopolies, hacking up failing companies and selling off the assets while bankrupting the employees, distributing opiates like candy, turning the only habitable planet we know of in the Universe into a toxic trash heap.
    And meanwhile, teachers have to pay for school supplies themselves. Police and firefighters barely make poverty wages. Students emerge from college with such crippling debt they can’t even think about buying a home, starting a business or in some cases, even getting married. It sure seems that money would have a whole helluvalot more benefit in the above cases than it does buying another yacht or Senator for a billionaire.

    We need a better class of rich person.

  4. Rob Grigjanis says

    George Norman @3:

    When PZ posts stuff like this, it makes me think…

    I’ve seen no evidence in your comments that you think about anything. You see someone criticizing obscene hoarding of wealth and respond with reflexive dismissiveness. Are you one of those benighted fools who longs to be a billionaire?

  5. says

    @4 @5
    I’m happy you are empathetic to poor people, but the device you are reading sentence on wasn’t made by the hands of someone well off. That said, less people in the world are impoverished than any other period of time. Things are getting better. Stealing money from the rich doesn’t make the world better, it only helps the robbers temporarily gain a little wealth, and leads to instability, starvation, and often times genocide. The balance has never been better than it is right now, more people are working and producing and purchasing goods and services than ever before. Being jealous of the richest people doesn’t help anyone at all. The biggest point is that destroying their wealth doesn’t make other people’s wealth greater, not one bit. If you want to help the common man, push for better labor laws like guaranteed vacation time, higher overtime pay, company worker profit sharing, etc. Scoffing at billionaires is futile. You could kill the top 400 Forbes list people, redistribute every penny they own, and besides the instability and chaos that would cause, nothing would change. Juan Carlos in Oaxaca in Mexico, still isn’t going to get his teeth fixed. Xio Lien in China still won’t be able to afford more than rice for dinner. And Joe Schmo in Texas still can’t get his truck fixed. Jealousy of billionaires is dumb. (fyi I was never a student of his, I’m simply stating the fact that waste is an inevitable part of any existence, in fact I’d say most of it is waste, especially in human endeavors. “Gouging” is a necessary evil that simply exists.)

  6. a_ray_in_dilbert_space says

    George Norman,
    Yes, class warfare always starts when the poor people start shooting back. The billionaire class have had it all their own way since 1980–and the result is an orange toddler billionaire currently wiping his ass on the Constitution. I say we try it FDR’s way–hell Adam Smith’s way–for a while. Capitalism has become the enemy of free markets.

  7. Rob Grigjanis says

    George Norman @6: Your mindless assumption that we’re jealous of billionaires tells us a hell of a lot more about you than it does about us. Someone who wants hundreds or thousands of times as much as they could possibly need to live a comfortable life is a sick individual. And “Stealing money from the rich” is a fucking joke. The RICO act steals from rich people, right? It should apply to drug kingpins like the Sackler family.

    Do you wish you had a billion? If so, why? What would you do with it?

  8. Rob Grigjanis says

    Further to my #8: The Koch brothers used their wealth to sow seeds of doubt about climate change, with great success, threatening the lives and/or security of billions of people, and devastating the biosphere. The lesson; no-one can be trusted with that much influence.

  9. chigau (違う) says

    I have been unclear on what was meant by saying someone has
    “the soul of a servant”,
    now I know.

  10. wzrd1 says

    Speaking, en blanc, I’ll day, working my best to achieve a comfortable income is important, helping others along the way, wonderful and frequent. Still, wanting to retire without being required to work to death, nearly equally wonderful, I do have a disabled wife.

    But, how many “champions” have actually taken homeless people into their homes?
    We have.
    Did we lose property? Yes, repeatedly.
    Are we going to stop doing so? Nope, we’ve been homeless, we know that environment, hostility societally and well, this veteran says, screw the lot of you.
    Our instruction for those succeeding forward, pay it forward.

    In some ways, I’m two different people.
    If OBL’s buddy, who killed my cousin on 9-11 to show up at my door, Ayman would be guided to law enforcement.
    Despite temptation to shoot him in the face with a thermonuclear fart, or something.
    Dealing with him as a leader, in country and in power, it’d be… Different.

    Overall, I do my best to do better, each and every day.
    But, a duality exists.
    Welcome to a minute, by minute struggle that we call life.
    I’m thinking roasted chicken for dinner tonight.

    Where one struggles on edges of a social problem, you’ll find a peer, also struggling, but in some cases, my fuse is less than a Plank instance.

  11. kenfabian says

    I have no problem with free enterprise democracies with the rule of law but I can’t help thinking billionares are evidence of the enduring failures of free markets and democracy and of the rule of law.

  12. Porivil Sorrens says

    Normal people standing up to defend billionaires who could spend thousands of dollars every hour and still have billions a century later, and who would gladly see our planet burn to a crisp for a few extra million in the short-term really is the ultimate stockholm syndrome.