David Callahan recently reviewed Rob Reich's new book "Just Giving: Why Philanthropy is Failing Democracy and How It Can Do Better." in an article "Impossible to Justify" A Political Scientist Takes on American Philanthropy". The review and the book are a further wake-up call that there are concerns in the public about philanthropy. We can wait for people to become more cynical of the charity sector or we can act now to prevent that. It is definitely worth reading David Callahan's review.
With recent changes to the US tax code that reduce the number of US taxpayers that will receive a charitable deduction to 5-10% of taxpayers and the recent changes in Canada to allow Canadian registered charities to conduct unlimited non-partisan political activities - it is possible that these sort of dramatic changes and disruption may have both intended and unintended consequences.
There is also another review of the book by Dylan Matthews of the Vox at "The case against billionaire philanthropy: A philosopher explains how megadonors can undermine democracy."
It has an interview with Rob Reich and one of the quotes is:
What a large foundation represents is the exercise of the power of a wealthy person to direct private assets for some public influence. It’s a plutocratic element in a democratic setting.
What a foundation represents today is (putting it provocatively and generally) a wealthy person who has a pile of money; does everything she can to diminish the tax contribution she makes to zero, legally speaking; complains about the effectiveness of government in producing various public benefits; declares herself willing to create public benefits or social benefits at her own choosing at the time that she prefers; takes a further tax break for creating a foundation entity; and then asks everyone involved to bend over in gratitude for her benevolence and genius in sprinkling around some social benefits.
That is the moment we sit in.
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Mark Blumberg is a partner at the law firm of Blumberg Segal LLP in Toronto and works almost exclusively in the areas of non-profit and charity law.