BILLIONAIRE PHILANTHROPY: A GOOD THING?

https://www.amazon.com/DECONSTRUCTING-ENIGMA-AMERICAN-PLUTOCRACY-NEOLIBERAL/dp/1976746515

Above is the link to purchase Deconstructing the Enigma of American Plutocracy on Amazon. Below is Chapter Ten: Billionaire Philanthropy and Rebutting the Neoliberal Apologia. Enjoy!

 

Charity is a cold thing. If a rich man wants to help the poor, he should pay his taxes gladly, not dole out money at a whim.

– Clement Attlee

You cannot just wait for private philanthropy to fix the problem, you know I think that private philanthropy is perfectly fine when it comes in addition to taxation, but when it comes instead of taxation, it is difficult to organize society. [i]

– Thomas Piketty

Credit: Forbes.com

At this point a skeptic might think that I have developed an argument that money is the root of all evil and would like to pursue it its logical completion. Well, essentially I am, with some caveats and some nuances explored here. Money may not be the root of all evil, but it certainly accounts for a lot. In fact, in a comprehensive study[i] by Paul K. Riff of the University of California at Berkeley found that the wealthy are more unethical that the poor, have more narcissistic personally tendencies, and have greater psychological sense of entitlement. Whether these characteristics helped them achieve their wealth, or wealth changed them as they acquired it is an open question, but the causal factors don’t matter much. The wealthy tend to be – to put it bluntly – assholes. (Billionaire philanthropy would seem to support Adam Smith’s tentative postulation that individual selfishness serves the greater good, but for reasons given below, I do not think that is the case.)

[i] Piff, Paul K., “Wealth and the Inflated Self,” Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin, August 10,2013, Vol. 40:1, pp. 34-42.

Be that as it may, obviously the world economy operates on money, and the history of commerce makes for a fascinating study. Historians and economists have written some very good books on the subject, but alas it is beyond this book. Let me give some specific form to the skeptic’s objection to criticism of wealth concentration: What about Bill Gates, Warren Buffet, the Walton family, Mark Zuckerberg, and many more billionaire philanthropists who have pledged to give away large portions (or all) of their wealth for the human good? What about liberal billionaires like George Soros whose foundations support progressive causes? Some of these people even support, after all, UBI, while others do not. These are serious questions. My answer is this: I applaud their efforts and some of their projects have helped many people, and they often accomplish more harm than good. Not of course harm to direct beneficiaries, but rather to the idea of the social compact between governments and the governed. There is a better way more compatible with democratic institutions and not reliant on on-again off-again vacillations of the wealth class’s charitable intent.

There are legitimate criticisms of billionaire philanthropy in individual case studies. For example, the Walton Family Foundation’s charitable giving appears to be mostly a tax dodge, and the infinitesimally small portion of their wealth has gone to the arts and the environment, doing very little if anything to help the poor.[iii] Meanwhile, their employees are so underpaid that taxpayers must supplement their incomes by the tune of $6.3 billion annually for public assistance programs.[iv] Some criticisms focus of billionaire philanthropy just being good public relations[v] predicated on the optics of income and wealth inequality being so bad. Surely, there must be some truth to that. Others are critical because quite a lot of charitable giving seems to be going to, arguably, the “wrong” places and in paltry amounts: according to the National Philanthropic Foundation, in 2016 a very large plurality (32 percent) of charitable contributions went to religion, and charitably giving only rose one-third as fast as the stock market.[vi]  In fairness, though, one might also consider a 2012 study which found that there are also illegitimate criticisms of rich philanthropists, such as it is only a tax dodge, or they don’t deserve praise because they’re still unspeakably rich.[vii] What is one to make of all this? Let us suspend disbelief about the nature of the human condition for the moment and assume for the purpose of argument that these philanthropists have only the best of intentions of society in mind, there is no nefarious counter-narrative for their actions, and they really do want to do good.

The first objection is simply to ask the question: Why is charity necessary? In an equality-based functioning socio-political system it wouldn’t be necessary at all. This question can be viewed as hopelessly naïve, an admission that utopia is achievable against my assertion that it is not, especially given my arguments about the deprivations of human nature and psychology that evolution has bestowed upon us. But the question does not require this radicalization. I would be happy to concede that charity has a place in society, and even happier to concede that it would be necessary to alleviate the worst of human suffering in any economic system one might imagine. The problem is that when we applaud billionaire philanthropy, are we not also validating an economic system which allows individuals to accumulate vast wealth at the expense of the less fortunate but no less worthy members of society? Consider that the four wealthiest American families own as much as 40 percent of the entire US population.[viii] Is the value billionaires have contributed to society commensurate with their wealth? Ideologues will argue that it is: with great risks come great rewards. In making that claim, though, what does that then say about the ordinary citizen who works very hard, perhaps at Wal-Mart trying to support a family, perhaps somewhere else, but still lives below the poverty line? After all, a series of studies collected by Bloomberg Businessweek, demonstrated fairly conclusively that an enormous factor in wealth accumulation is simply attributable to luck and the happenstance of one’s birth.[ix] (This is one area where intuition appears to have a solid base in reality: Would Donald Trump have become a billionaire if he had been born into a poor family in rural Appalachia?) Meanwhile, workers’ incomes may be so low that they don’t pay an income tax, and they are forced to take public assistance payed for by the middle class. In the case of Wal-Mart, the Walton family apparently finds it acceptable to pass the burden of poverty wages on to the middle class as they enjoy special tax breaks not available them.

At some point one must decide either that we as a society are all in this together, or we are all just individuals competing in a reality show. The billionaire class implicitly recognize that we are all in this together; if they didn’t they would hardly bother with charitable giving. Or in the alternative, they recognize that the capitalist system is unsustainable without some form of wealth redistribution. Be that as it may, the minimum wage – and the idea of raising it to a living wage – enjoys broad popular support.[x] But establishing a maximum wage is political taboo, despite the fact that at one time we had a de facto maximum wage with a top marginal tax rate of 90 percent.[xi] This seems odd. Would Bill Gates have not founded Microsoft if he knew that his maximum personal wealth would be capped at, let’s say, one billion dollars? Of course risk taking and innovation are partially products of the will to accumulate riches. But is there not a point at which the returns diminish? Would one’s lifestyle improve much if one accumulated two billion dollars instead of merely one billion? How many yachts, airplanes and mansions – and charitable foundations – are enough? These are not questions that capitalist neoliberals take seriously, much less ask. It is outside of their ideological comprehension. But these are the questions that we should all be asking.

Billionaire philanthropy is also undemocratic. In the abstract, in democratic societies people vote on issues indirectly through their vote for politicians who have stands on those issues. The public policy issues that they collectively agree upon become law (again, in the abstract). When billionaires decide what is important according to their fancy, and therefore where their money goes, they indirectly subvert democratic institutions. Perhaps their judgment is better than that of the mob. Perhaps it isn’t. Take, for example, the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, which according to its website, had a foundation trust endowment of $ 40.3 billion in 2016.[xii] Much of this money goes to support health, education and agricultural projects in developing countries, and much of that in Africa. In Tanzania alone, the Foundation spent $300 million in 2017.[xiii] The Foundation is making progress in improving human health in many other impoverished countries as well. The goals are laudable and the successes are measurable. But one has to wonder, if given a choice, if a US politician’s platform included distributing a $300 million budget surplus to the poor in the United States, or using it for college and trade school subsidies, or to stabilize the health insurance market, or to be invested in clean energy technologies, or any number of other things, how voters would respond. There are poor and needy in America too. It seems that, at least in this particular case, billionaires – in addition to all of the other perks – may substitute their own priorities over others. It is, after all, their right.

One of the strangest books I have read recently is Matthew Bishop’s and Michael Green’s 2009 Philanthrocapitalism: How the Rich Can Save the World. It was a broad book, and well-researched. But something about it made me uneasy, it seemed to be a little too rosy – an advocacy piece shrouded in a protective journalistic clamshell veneer, not seriously discussing the downsides of billionaire philanthropy. Notably, it didn’t directly address what I think is an important question: Doesn’t billionaire philanthropy perpetuate the myth the endemic problems of society can only be solved by the rich and the powerful? I felt a similar unease in watching Robert Reich’s excellent documentary “Saving Capitalism,” based on his book of the same name. It is rich with policy prescriptions to reverse growing wealth inequality – re-growing the strength of trade unions, increasing taxes on the wealthy, among many other things which would undoubtedly help – but largely ignores the fundamental flaws of capitalism itself. I suppose one cannot blame professor Reich: he spent many years in government as Secretary of Labor, and he was good at his job (remember the Clinton surplus) so one might expect that he would be a supporter of capitalism. But until we are to seriously look at its structural flaws, I fear that we constantly patching holes and replacing parts when what it really needs is a complete overhaul. Reich would like to return to the halcyon days of the post-war boom, or perhaps the Clinton 90s, but technology has changed the rules of the game. It is difficult to argue, given the history available to us, that these snapshots in time are not in fact anomalies.

There is a further objection, and one that is in many ways more troubling. Billionaire philanthropy can be nefarious too. Enter the Koch brothers. Their philanthropy, unlike the Walton family’s, is not primarily a public relations tool or tax avoidance scheme. Nor, like Gates’ philanthropic projects, is it well-intentioned. Much of the Koch’s money is funneled into philanthropic endeavors that are baldly self-serving and dangerous.

But before we go there, we should take a slight digression and look as the now-famous “Powell Memo” or “Powell Manifesto” of August 23, 1971.[xiv] Lewis Powell, who was months later to become an Associate Justice of the Supreme Court of the United States, was working at the U.S. Chamber of Commerce when he penned the memo to his boss, who was the Chairman of the Education Committee. The late 1960s and early 1970s was a turbulent time in America, and one of the many sources of that turbulence was the general dissatisfaction with the outcomes of capitalism for workers – low wages, anti-unionism, dangerous consumer products brought to the attention of the public by Ralph Nader, among others, and a growing sentiment towards more socialist policies. Powell’s deeply cynical and somewhat paranoid memorandum was a call to arms for the business community to fight back in an organized and disciplined way, through the funding of conservative think tanks, the media, congressional lobbying efforts, and among other things, invading academia with a conservative counter-balance in order to attack what was perceived as a liberal, neo-Marxist bias within the academy. Apparently it worked, and the following decade ushered in an aggressive pushback by the business community resulting in the creation of a plethora of new conservative pro-business causes and academic appointments,[xv] as well as the expanding role of the U.S. Chamber of Commerce. Oddly, Powell didn’t perceive that this general dissatisfaction with capitalism and big business was a general response to its abuses, but was rather purely political ideology at work. I don’t know how one can account for this glaring mistake from a bright person, but the corporate community took Powell’s admonitions to heart, and there is no better example of this than the Koch brothers.

Their lobbying efforts, support of conservative think tanks, and political contributions are well known. And yes, they support public television, the United Negro College fund, as well as other non-political causes such as medical research. Nonetheless, The Kochs were apparently shocked at a 2010 exposé in the New Yorker by Jane May which painted them in, shall we say, a less than flattering light.[xvi] They developed a rapid response public relations team and a new website, KochFacts.com as a counter narrative, focusing on their giving. But you can support medical research and have your name put on hospital wings all you want; the fact remains that the Kochs are partisan ideologues of the first order and were avid supporters of the now-defunct Tea Party movement,[xvii] marshalling an army of the credulous and undereducated to crusade against their own interests. They are also smart, and their most insidious attack with money has been on higher education and research.

Colleges and Universities in the United States have long been bastions of liberal and progressive thinking. (I touched upon some reasons for this in Chapter 3.) Graduates become leaders in many areas of both private and public endeavors, including of course politics. It would make natural sense that the Kochs would want to spread their influence to the university campus as well as a counterweight, and that is precisely what they’ve done, with of course as many strings attached as possible. In partnership with the Center for Public Integrity, David Levinthal of The Atlantic produced a piece of investigative journalism that shed much light on the Kochs’ ambitions in shaping young minds and developing scholarship toward neoliberal free market principles.[xviii] The findings are troubling.

Koch foundation’s spending on college campuses increased from $12.7 million at 163 institutions in 2012 to $19.3 million at 210 campuses in 2013. As Levinthal writes, “A review of hundreds of private documents, emails, and audio recordings—along with interviews with more than 75 college officials, professors, students, and others—indicate the Koch brothers’ spending on higher education is now a critical part of their broader campaign to infuse politics and government with free-market principles.”[xix] Of course many wealthy donors are patrons of universities, so there is nothing automatically untoward about this fact, unless such donors interfere with academic freedom. Levinthal recounts that back in 2007, a large donation to Florida State University came with some strings antithetical to the concept of academic freedom: “Teachings must align with the libertarian economic philosophy of Charles Koch, the Charles Koch Foundation would maintain partial control over faculty hiring and the chairman of the school’s economics department—a prominent economic theorist—must stay in place for another three years despite his plans to step down.”[xx] While Florida State ultimately rejected the request, the Kochs continue to donate and ties with the university remain close. The lion’s share of Koch funding in 2013 was received by Virginia’s George Mason University[xxi] and its Mercatus Center – a libertarian-leaning free market research center which a former director described as housing the “largest collection” of “free market faculty” in the world.[xxii] Not surprisingly, the research taking place at the Mercatus Center is noticed by Congress, and used to support movements to end the Affordable Care Act and cut taxes for the wealthy.[xxiii] Many other examples abound of the Kochs aggressively asserting their neoliberal libertarian ideology on college campuses.

Again, the Kochs are entitled to their views, but they should not be entitled to interfere with academic research to suit their ideological goals consistent with their conglomerate’s bottom line. It is inimical to the very idea of a marketplace of ideas.[1] And just when you think it can’t get worse with the Kochs, it does. Readers may be familiar with Project Veritas, a 501(c)(3) nonprofit run by an unscrupulous (even by Koch standards) character named James O’Keefe. His mission is ostensibly to discredit institutions he views as progressive or left-leaning with sting operations, and has a long history of failures in this regard.[xxiv] O’Keefe gets millions of funding from Donors Trust and Donors Capital Fund, which in turn are funded by billionaires, including – you guessed it – the Koch brothers.[xxv]

As to the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, I remain somewhat ambivalent. There is something troubling about the fact that, first, individuals can accumulate such vast, almost obscene, wealth, and second, that it is entirely up to them to decide what is in the best interests of societies and what charitable causes to spend it on, or as the case may be, not spend it at all. If we lived in a just society, one that was not rigged in favor of the rich, these moral and ethical quandaries would not be presented for us to ponder. The fact that they exist, and continue to be debated, points to the fact that there is a very real foundational problem to the neoliberally-led political economy in America.

The quote at the outset of this chapter from Thomas Piketty comes from a BBC Newsnight interview with Evan Davies, roughly 18 months after the release of his book. Piketty goes on to say that

 

[i]f you want to do philanthropic giving I think it’s important that you don’t keep control…we have to be serious about what’s public interest and what’s private interest. In many countries in order to all this philanthropic giving to a public interest charity then you must lose any control right…it would be much more convincing if he [Bill Gates] gave away power.

I think we’re being very naïve if we think about the idea that now we don’t need taxation and that we don’t need the government, we just need to wait for the billionaires to give some of their wealth away.[xxvi]

 

The emphasis on the word power in the first paragraph above is Piketty´s. He goes on to talk about how nice it must be for billionaires to have people coming to them with projects to help humanity, and how good it must make them feel to become involved in the planning and implementation of such projects. Piketty is more than a brilliant economist: he is also an intuitive amateur psychologist. One has to wonder how the proportion of hubris, power, and psychological satisfaction plays out in the minds of billionaires who cannot bear to relinquish control of their wealth.  If philanthropy were to replace taxation, Piketty notes, it would also end democracy. At this stage in history I am not aware of anyone seriously arguing that it should, but keep your ears open. Given the history of neoliberalism, I wouldn’t be surprised if someone at a libertarian think tank, whose salary is paid by the Kochs, is mulling the idea over. One could accuse me of hyperbole here, but I plead not guilty. A single example, in my view, is sufficient to make the point that democracy – to the extent that it still exists in any meaningful way – is in danger of complete sublimation to the whims of billionaires.

Keith A. Spencer of Salon wrote an interesting piece recently about how the wealthy scions of Silicon Valley have kept the SETI Institute (Search for Extraterrestrial Intelligence) operating through their charitable contributions.[xxvii] In the fever pitch of neoliberal ideology in the 1990s, where Bill Clinton declared that “the era of big government is over,” the NASA appropriations bill was stripped of SETI funding. Now, you may or may not think that SETI is a good idea, or that it is a proper use of taxpayer dollars – there are good arguments on both sides of that particular debate. But in terms of the underlying principle, do we really want science and research to be funded at the impulses of billionaires? And it isn’t only SETI – enormous areas of what were formerly public domain, such as the arts, social safety nets, prisons, public education, and infrastructure development, just to name a few, have been sold off to private interests with a profit motive, or altogether abandoned to sink or swim depending on the fancies of philanthropists. We are rapidly approaching the perihelion where the public interest will be protected and advanced by only two sources of power: for-profit enterprises or benevolent billionaires. Anything that cannot be monetized and does not attract the interest of the wealthy, will simply die. That, I submit, would not be a good society in which to live.

 

A Refutation of Neoliberalism’s Apologia

Obviously there are arguments in favor of neoliberalism, quite a lot of them. I undertook the task of reading as many as a could for a full week. Something about the three dozen or so papers I read – journal articles, op-eds, long form essays and pieces in the popular press – struck me as odd. They seldom began with vociferous advocacy of the neoliberal view. Almost all of the authors seemed to think that a very long introductory throat-clearing was required. This usually took the form of an intellectual history of economic thought, an unnecessary and pained pointing-out of neoliberalism’s nascent beginnings in classical liberalism, followed not by neoliberalism’s accomplishments, but by a defense of it from critics. It was usually not until the very end, sometimes the final paragraph, that most writers got around to extolling the successes of neoliberalism. When they did, I found four recurring points of advocacy, which roughly follow the following lines. First, the defenders of neoliberalism make the claim that critics of neoliberalism have nothing to offer other than criticism. Second, that communists saw the light in the late 1980s and early1990s and committed apostasy in favor of the neoliberal world view, so it must be right. Third, there will be winners and losers in any economic system, and the winners under the neoliberal model far outweigh the small number of losers. Finally, neoliberalism produces great wealth, which is then voluntarily redistributed by beneficent philanthropists.

As to the first point that critics have nothing better to offer, I offer Chapter Eight. As to the last point about philanthropists, see above. The second point is simply a non sequitur: it does not follow that because the Soviet Eastern Block and the Chinese threw in the economic towel, they did so because they were finally convinced of the superiority of neoliberal economics. Indeed, there were many reasons that these and other countries abandoned their national political ideologies: a very expensive arms race and military spending, a yearning for liberal freedoms unrelated to economics, a recognition that communism was wasteful, regressive and inefficient, and also, of course, that capitalism leads to material wealth. That, I have never denied, but rather only questioned: Creates material wealth for whom? And that’s only the beginning – the geopolitical complications in the early 1990s consisted of a complicated amalgam of competing strategic and economic interests, led by strong personalities. But let us say that the Soviets and the Chinese, did in fact embrace capitalism because of its superiority. That wouldn’t prove in any way that neoliberalism is the best system for the most people, but only that it is better than communism – the setting of a very low bar.Obviously there are arguments in favor of neoliberalism, quite a lot of them. I undertook the task of reading as many as a could for a full week. Something about the three dozen or so papers I read – journal articles, op-eds, long form essays and pieces in the popular press – struck me as odd. They seldom began with vociferous advocacy of the neoliberal view. Almost all of the authors seemed to think that a very long introductory throat-clearing was required. This usually took the form of an intellectual history of economic thought, an unnecessary and pained pointing-out of neoliberalism’s nascent beginnings in classical liberalism, followed not by neoliberalism’s accomplishments, but by a defense of it from critics. It was usually not until the very end, sometimes the final paragraph, that most writers got around to extolling the successes of neoliberalism. When they did, I found four recurring points of advocacy, which roughly follow the following lines. First, the defenders of neoliberalism make the claim that critics of neoliberalism have nothing to offer other than criticism. Second, that communists saw the light in the late 1980s and early1990s and committed apostasy in favor of the neoliberal world view, so it must be right. Third, there will be winners and losers in any economic system, and the winners under the neoliberal model far outweigh the small number of losers. Finally, neoliberalism produces great wealth, which is then voluntarily redistributed by beneficent philanthropists.

The third objection is the only serious one – that neoliberal economic systems create more winners than losers. If this is true, then I have wasted a book. After all, I have been going on and on about how the best public policy is the one that benefits the most people while hurting the fewest. Obviously this book concerns the effects of hyper-capitalism on the population of the United States. In previous chapters I have already laid out my best argument that neoliberalism benefits the fewest while harming the most – there is no question in my mind that that is the case. But I’m willing to take a more expansive view; after all, we all share the same planet, and an American life is no more valuable than a Bangladeshi or Indian one.

So let’s take a not-so-simple metric: the amount of people living in extreme poverty as defined by the World Bank on a 30-year timescale. I say not-so-simple because the World Bank defines extreme poverty as people living on less than $1.90 a day, which is a developing nation standard applied equally to developed countries. An American living on $1.91 a day would not be included as living in extreme poverty. But let’s not niggle. The World Bank estimates that in 1990, 37.1 percent of the world’s population lived in extreme poverty, and only 9.6 percent in 2015, accounting for a 74.1 percent reduction in just 25 years, despite population growth.[xxviii] Way to go hyper-capitalism! Perhaps a rising tide really does raise all ships. Notwithstanding the fact that making even $2.00 per day would mean you were still quite poor, it’s an impressive statistic. But wait. If we use the US Census Bureau threshold for poverty in the US (about $33 per day), it would account for 13.5 percent of the population in 1990, and 12.7 percent in 2016[xxix] – hardly a change at all, and significantly higher than the world extreme poverty average of 9.6 percent.

What are we to make of this? One conclusion could be that neoliberalism and its corollary of outsourcing to cheaper labor locals, is good for developing nations and bad for developed ones. That seems like a reasonable conclusion, given that developing countries are receiving increasing balance of trade for both manufacturing and service from the United States. Then again, these trends are perhaps not the result of neoliberalism at all: Had we stuck to a Keynesian restrained capitalist model, or a more overtly socialist one, would the world reduction of poverty have been significantly different? If it were true, we also have another problem: as developing economies improve and head down the same path as the US, global businesses operating within them will feel increasing pressure to reduce costs as well. Simply put, there is no endgame – it’s a race to eventual collapse.

There is of course a more fundamental macroeconomic flaw in neoliberal theology that is seldom mentioned by its apologists: it is supposed to be about growth, but its results are increasing wealth and income inequality. At some point wealth will become so unequal, it will make sustaining further growth impossible. The International Monetary Fund acknowledged this in 2016:

 

[S]ince both openness and austerity are associated with increasing income inequality, this distributional effect sets up an adverse feedback loop. The increase in inequality engendered by financial openness and austerity might itself undercut growth, the very thing that the neoliberal agenda is intent on boosting. There is now strong evidence that inequality can significantly lower both the level and the durability of growth. ­

The evidence of the economic damage from inequality suggests that policymakers should be more open to redistribution than they are. Of course, apart from redistribution, policies could be designed to mitigate some of the impacts in advance—for instance, through increased spending on education and training, which expands equality of opportunity (so-called predistribution policies). And fiscal consolidation strategies—when they are needed—could be designed to minimize the adverse impact on low-income groups. But in some cases, the untoward distributional consequences will have to be remedied after they occur by using taxes and government spending to redistribute income. Fortunately, the fear that such policies will themselves necessarily hurt growth is unfounded.­[xxx]

 

Though couched in neutral academic language, this is a startling admission from the IMF.

Neoliberalism, if it is to be sustainable requires not just redistribution of wealth for people who have been harmed by it, but also pre-distribution of wealth by people who will be harmed by it before the actual harm takes place. Let’s think about that for a moment. If neoliberalism is supposed to, as it claims, be good for everyone because expanding economies lift everyone up, why would redistribution be necessary? There is a larger point, too: if it is such a superior economic model, as its advocates claim, why would it need so many patches to keep in from self-implosion? Like religion, it is riddled with self-contradictions, inconsistencies, and claims of the miraculous, that it cannot be distinguished from religious dogmas themselves. Nor can neoliberalism’s wonkiest advocates be distinguished from our average preachers, priests, Imams, rabbis, shamans, and new age faith healers. The emperor has no clothes.

[1] For a detailed description of the Koch’s involvement in and support of radical right wing economic causes, see Nancy MacLean’s 2017 book Democracy in Chains: The Deep History of the Radical Right’s Plan for America. Much of her research involved uncovering archival correspondence between GMU neoliberal economists such as James M. Buchanan and the Kochs. Some of the conversations are chilling and involve destroying Social Security and re-segregating schools. Not surprisingly MacLean’s scholarship has been vigorously attacked, by libertarians.

[i] BBC Newsnight interview, available at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=X6frECZhxJA

[ii] Piff, Paul K., “Wealth and the Inflated Self,” Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin, August 10,2013, Vol. 40:1, pp. 34-42.

[iii] O’Connor, Clare, “Report: Wal-Mart’s Billionaire Walton’s Give Almost None of Own Cash to Foundation,” Forbes, June 31, 2014, available at https://www.forbes.com/sites/clareoconnor/2014/06/03/report-walmarts-billionaire-waltons-give-almost-none-of-own-cash-to-family-foundation/#6c96e5df7d52.

[iv] Report: “Wal-Mart on tax day: how taxpayers subsidize America’s biggest employer and richest family,” Americans For Tax Fairness, April 2014, available at https://americansfortaxfairness.org/files/Walmart-on-Tax-Day-Americans-for-Tax-Fairness-1.pdf.

[v] See, e.g., “McElwee, Sean, “Bargain for billionaires: why philanthropy is more about PR than progress,” Salon, February 10, 2014, available at https://www.salon.com/2014/02/10/bargain_for_billionaires_why_philanthropy_is_more_about_p_r_than_progress/.

[vi] Charitable Giving Statistics, the National Philanthropic Trust, available at https://www.nptrust.org/philanthropic-resources/charitable-giving-statistics/.

[vii] See, e.g., MacAskill, William, “5 criticisms of billionaire mega-philanthropy, debunked,” Quartz, December 4, 2015, available at https://qz.com/564805/5-criticisms-of-billionaire-mega-philanthropy-debunked/.

[viii] Galka, Mark, “America’s 4 Richest Families Own as Much as the Bottom 40%,” Huffpost, February 24, 2016, available at https://www.huffingtonpost.com/max-galka/americas-4-richest-families-own-as-much-as-the-bottom-40_b_9259942.html.

[ix] Kenny, Charles, “How Did the World’s Rich Get That Way? Luck,” Bloomberg Business Week, April 222, 2013, available at https://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2013-04-22/how-did-the-worlds-rich-get-that-way-luck.

[x] Desilver, Drew, “5 facts about the minimum wage,” January 4, 2017, Pew Research Center, available at http://www.pewresearch.org/fact-tank/2017/01/04/5-facts-about-the-minimum-wage/.

[xi] See, e.g., Yglesias, Mathew, “The case for a maximum wage,” Vox, August 6, 2014, available at https://www.vox.com/2014/8/6/5964369/maximum-wage.

[xii] Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, Foundation Fact Sheet, available at https://www.gatesfoundation.org/Who-We-Are/General-Information/Foundation-Factsheet.

[xiii] Ng’wanaki, Fumbuka, “Gates Foundation to spend $300 million in Tanzania in 2017,” Reuters, August 13, 2017, available at https://www.reuters.com/article/us-tanzania-health/gates-foundation-to-spend-over-300-million-in-tanzania-in-2017-idUSKCN1AT0IF.

[xiv] Available in pdf format at http://dy00k1db5oznd.cloudfront.net/wp-content/uploads/2012/09/Lewis-Powell-Memo.pdf..

[xv] See, e.g., Hacker, Jacob S. and Pierson, Paul, Winner-Take-All Politics: How Washington Made the Rich Richer – And Turned Its Back on the Middle Class, New York: Simon & Schuster (2010).

[xvi] See, e.g., Mayer, Jane, “Covert Operations,” The New Yorker, August 30, 2010, available at https://www.newyorker.com/magazine/2010/08/30/covert-operations.

[xvii] See, e.g., Nesbit, Jeff, “The Secret Origins of the Tea Party,” Time, available at http://time.com/secret-origins-of-the-tea-party/. For a fuller account, see, e.g., Nesbit, Jeff, Poison Tea: How Big Tobacco Invented the Tea Party and Captured the GOP, St. Martin’s Press (2016).

[xviii] Levinthal, Dave, “Spreading the Free-Market Gospel,” The Atlantic, October 30, 2015, available at https://www.theatlantic.com/education/archive/2015/10/spreading-the-free-market-gospel/413239/.

[xix] Ibid.

[xx] Ibid., see also, e.g., Levinthal, Dave, “Koch foundation proposal to college: Teach our curriculum, get millions,” The Center For Public Integrity, September 12, 2014, available at https://www.publicintegrity.org/2014/09/12/15495/koch-foundation-proposal-college-teach-our-curriculum-get-millions.

[xxi] See, e.g., “How colleges used Koch money in 2013,” The Center for Public Integrity, available at https://www.publicintegrity.org/2015/10/30/18673/how-colleges-use-koch-money.

[xxii] Id., at note 14.

[xxiii] Ibid.

[xxiv] See, e.g., Weiss, Brennan, “The 33-year-old who tried to trick the Washington Post with a fake sexual harassment story has a long history of sting operations backfiring,” Business Insider, November 28, 2017, available at http://www.businessinsider.com/james-okeefe-project-veritas-sting-fails-2017-11.

[xxv] Kotch, Alex, “The Secret Right-Wing Donors Behind James O’Keefe’s Vile Project Veritas, Alternet, November 29, 2017, available at https://www.alternet.org/news-amp-politics/secret-right-wing-donors-behind-james-okeefes-vile-project-veritas?akid=16421.1932697.ROW5Ij&rd=1&src=newsletter1085805&t=22.

[xxvi] Ibid., at note 1.

[xxvii] Spencer, Keith A., “The new hobby of the super-rich: Alien hunting,” Salon, November 26, 2017, available at https://www.salon.com/2017/11/26/the-new-hobby-of-the-super-rich-hunting-aliens.

[xxviii] Cruz, Marcio, et al., “Ending Extreme Poverty and Sharing Prosperity: Progress and Policies,” World Bank Group, Policy Research Institute, October 2015, DRN/15/13, available in pdf format at http://pubdocs.worldbank.org/en/109701443800596288/PRN03Oct2015TwinGoals.pdf.

[xxix] Statista, “Poverty rate in the United States from 1990 to 2016,” available at https://www.statista.com/statistics/200463/us-poverty-rate-since-1990/.

[xxx] Ostry, Jonathan D., et al., “Neoliberalism: Oversold?” International Monetary Fund, June 2016, Vol.53, No.2, available at http://www.imf.org/external/pubs/ft/fandd/2016/06/ostry.htm.