Home / Economy / Is it Charity or “Philanthrocapitalism”? – Libertarians Beware. 

Is it Charity or “Philanthrocapitalism”? – Libertarians Beware. 

This article is one reason we have such an uphill battle when trying to reduce government. Libertarians especially are big on saying that things should be done, and could be done, voluntarily and if the rich want to increase taxes to help the poor then they should just give away their money and do it already! I agree. I think the government should do much less than it does (almost nothing) and that private organizations should help where help is required. But, to many, that’s a terrible idea and one they are just outright afraid of.

The author of the linked article writes about billionaires giving away their money for charity. They spend half the article outlining all the things the billionaires are doing with their cash. I kept waiting, what’s the hook here mister author? Then I read this, “Essentially, what we are witnessing is the transfer of responsibility for public goods and services from democratic institutions to the wealthy…” Which is pretty much just what libertarians and many classical liberals want. But you see, that takes out government which is who the author means when he says, “democratic institutions”. He laments that many are likely do it as a form of repentance for their clearly bad corporate deeds. Okay. Why is that bad? Why isn’t trying to do well good. Even if you are the cause of a problem fixing it is the right thing to do.

I see this as a direct assault on the libertarian idea of voluntaryism. Libertarians say people and businesses should help out and are, in fact, best suited to. Government, says libertarians (and I agree), does a piss-poor job of dealing out charity and welfare and can only do so by taking it first from someone else without regard to whether or not that person needs their own money.

“This is far from the benign shift to a different and better way of doing things that it claims to be – a CEO style to “save the world through business thinking and market methods”, as Jenkins puts it. Instead, the risk of philanthrocapitalism is a takeover of charity by business interests, such that generosity to others is appropriated into the overarching dominance of the CEO model of society and its corporate institutions.”

See how they attack the idea? It’s not benign. They aren’t really helping. As if the government is benign and as if the government is really in it for the good of all mankind. Please! Government is in it for power. It’s naive to think otherwise.

But of course you can guess (as I’m sure you have) that this comes down to the fact that it is the enemy of the left, the much hated 1% that this is really about.

“The hypocrisy revealed by CEOs claiming to be dedicated to social responsibility and charity also exposes a deeper authoritarian morality that prevails in the CEO society. Philanthrocapitalism is commonly presented as the social justice component of an otherwise amoral global free market. At best, corporate charity is a type of voluntary tax paid by the 1% for their role in creating such an economically deprived and unequal world.” So they get that all wrong. But no wonder they do because they get capitalism wrong.

I’m not sure I can blame them for that one though. Hardly anyone gets it right. Most people think what we have in America today is capitalism. It’s not. The author of the linked article writes this based on that false idea of capitalism, “Politically, the free market is posited as a fundamental requirement for liberal democracy. However, recent analysis reveals the deeper connection between processes of marketisation and authoritarianism. In particular, a strong government is required to implement these often unpopular market changes.”

You see, capitalism doesn’t require any government intervention. In fact, once government does intervene, capitalism is no longer what’s being practiced. But that fact gets lost on the left (and many on the right too).

At the very end of this very long article the author does get something right though: “Meanwhile, inequality is growing, and both corporations and the wealthy find ways to avoid the taxes that the rest of us pay.”

That’s right. Vast inequality is a bad thing and cronyism, that’s the marriage of government with business, creates it. Businesses alone cannot. They require the strong arm of government to do so. And today they have that. So yes, that is bad and we should fix it.

In that I can agree with the author.

Then there is the second part of that paragraph about taxes. Yes, I agree again. But to them the fix is to make business pay their “fair share” which, as we all know, they are. They are paying more as a group than all the mom’s and pop’s combined. The solution isn’t to force them to give up legally using the tax laws to their advantage. The solution is to reduce taxation.

You see, the author complains about something then skirts around the solution. Let the corporations give all they want and stop taking money from everyone to pay for things that corporations can help out with and billionaires, or a collection of you’s and I’s combining our efforts for causes we care about. If the government would get out-of-the-way then we all could manage our money. Americans have already shown they are more than willing to give but if you keep taking their money away from them they find it very difficult to do.

 

Billionaire giving lots of money away

The long read: More and more wealthy CEOs are pledging to give away parts of their fortunes – often to help fix problems their companies caused. Some call this ‘philanthrocapitalism’, but is it just corporate hypocrisy?

Source: The trouble with charitable billionaires

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