One of the excuses I’m seeing from defenders of Clarence Thomas and Harlan Crow is the claim that Crow was being generous and kind and you don’t want to discourage people from being kind, do you? Dahlia Lithwick is having nothing to do with that.
There’s also something specifically infuriating about the way defenders of the deep spiritual kinship between Harlan Crow and Clarence and Ginni Thomas root their argument in the fact that paying for an at-risk youth’s private school tuition is a noble act—“charity” even. The problem with that is, this is a conservative legal movement that is racing to subvert voting, public education, the administrative state, and (at present) the possibility of student loan forgiveness. So Harlan Crow’s replacement of an entire New Deal safety net with an ad hoc charitable benefits system administered by himself and directed only at the offspring of personal friends is specifically infuriating. Because the kids who receive the generosity of the Crow’s private charity are not yours, and the kids who receive the protections of EPA regulation are not yours, and the kids who receive the benefits of going to schools where nobody will shoot them are not yours. The beauty of Leonard Leo and Harlan Crow is that they always get to determine who benefits—and guess what? Unless and until you are related to a sitting Supreme Court justice: It will be not you.
The lesson we are learning from the new scandals at the high court go way beyond “ethics” reform. This is no longer an ethics problem. This is a democracy reform problem, and it signals first and foremost an effort to deform democracy to serve the Harlan Crows and the Leonard Leos of the world. It also signals a view of democracy in which they will determine whose private life is private and who are the “gossips.” (You may still know them as “journalists.”)
Right, let’s replace the social safety net with crony capitalism. That’s not generosity, that’s selfishness.
There was a New Yorker article several years ago with interviews of a number of wealthy philanthropists.
The general tone from these guys was that they want to choose who benefits from their philanthropy, it gives them pleasure to get the thanks from the recipients of their largesse. They are against having their income taxed because it would reduce the good they personally could do to help people. That is, if they had less income because they paid more in taxes, then they wouldn’t give as much to charity.
First, basic human needs shouldn’t be dependent what gives the wealthy a feeling of happiness.
Second, there is no way the charity of the wealthy can meet the needs of all the people who are less fortunate.
Third, individual wealthy people will undoubtedly choose charities which re-enforce their own prejudices.
Forth, a strong social safety net, paid for by the taxes on all people (including the wealthy), and distributed as equitably as possible, means less individual charity is necessary.
These assholes may not overtly say they require groveling subjects, but that’s certainly what they desire.
Marcus Ranum says
A guy who collects Hitler memorabilia is not “friends” with Clarence Thomas.
Harlan Crow isn’t handing out charity.
This is a pure retail transaction.
He is buying influence and power from a US Supreme Court judge.
Ginni Thomas Net Worth $80 Million (Forbes 2023)
Clarence Thomas Net Worth $32 Million (Forbes 2023) …
Clarence Thomas salary is $260,000 and his wife Ginni makes more.
People who have a net worth of over $100 million like Clarence Thomas and his wife and make maybe a million dollars a year in income don’t need charity.
If Harlan Crow wanted to give to charity, he would be giving it to people who really need it, the homeless, working poor, immigrants, refugees, animal shelters, Ukraine, and so on.
I knew it was wanting, I just didn’t want to be the first to mention that.
These Aholes (c thomas and crow) like all the other rtwingnut politicians, know they are above the law. Laws only apply to poor people or those without huge political or corporate clout.
Ron Wyden (one of the best most honest decent senators) demanded accountability and for crow to testify. Crow through his lawyers effectively said ‘f*ck you’.
I love the land, but I hate the society of this shithole country.
Raging Bee says
…There’s also something specifically infuriating about the way defenders of the deep spiritual kinship between Harlan Crow and Clarence and Ginni Thomas root their argument in the fact that paying for an at-risk youth’s private school tuition is a noble act—“charity” even.
The only way one could call that “charity” is if the kid’s actual adoptive parents/legal guardians were either unable, or unwilling, to pay for the tuition themselves. And we all know either Clarence or Ginni could easily have said “no, thanks, we got this.” So…were they unwilling to pay for the schooling they’d decided was best for him? If so, they could have just…you know…put him in a public school instead.
This whole “charity” shtick is bullshit on more levels than I have the caffeine for. I remember arguing with some obnoxious libertarian who was all up in arms about how collecting taxes to help the poorest people was “devaluing” his totally wonderful (but unspecified) charitable donations. The whole dialogue was even more ridiculous than the nonsense described in the OP above.
So, the first thing that I would do is make by law the finances into a matter of public record for all high level government positions, including the president, cabinet members, all federal judges, and all congress critters.
Second, in my dreamworld, I would have a rule that, as a condition to accept one of those roles, one needs to sacrifice all assets over X value, say 5m USD for the sake of argument, and sacrifice all future incomes, wages, dividends, sales, etc., except for a generous government pension, say 300k USD for the sake of argument.
It is almost impossible to prove outright corruption or bribery in so many of these cases, and that’s why need strong conflict of interest rules.
Oh, come on now, they have lofty, lord serving goals!
To bring back feudalism, with them as the lords of the land and everyone else serfs. So, this isn’t bribery, it’s investments in their futures and their plans.
True. Being poor is a significant stressor that can impact pretty much your entire life. Even unrelated things like relationships get stressed as you try to find ways to pay for the things that meet everyone’s basic needs. So you’re always going to see more gun violence around the poor and middle class than you will around the rich.
If the best excuse these bozos can come up with is that it was “charity” to spread money between a bunch of rich fuckers to cover the cost of what sounds like terrible educational experiences for a “troubled youth” relative they’re throwing under the bus… Yeah, I just hope his education was good enough for him to understand WTF they’re doing. Because they’re using him pretty badly. He should demand his own cut at this rate.