We’ve lived so long under the spell of hierarchy—from god-kings to feudal lords to party bosses—that only recently have we awakened to see not only that “regular” citizens have the capacity for self-governance, but that without their engagement our huge global crises cannot be addressed. The changes needed for human society simply to survive, let alone thrive, are so profound that the only way we will move toward them is if we ourselves, regular citizens, feel meaningful ownership of solutions through direct engagement. Our problems are too big, interrelated, and pervasive to yield to directives from on high.
—Frances Moore LappĂ©, excerpt from Time for Progressives to Grow Up

Thursday, October 6, 2016

Giving to Get

Click here to access a 55 minute interview with Linsey McGoey, author of No Such Thing as a Free Gift: The Gates Foundation, on the "Against the Grain" program from KPFA, a listener sponsored radio station in Berkeley, California.

There has been a vast increase of charitable foundations in the last several decades. McGoey, a lecturer of sociology at the University of Essex in Britain, has studied this phenomenon with special focus on the Gates Foundation. 

Foundations provide benefit to the rich by reducing their taxes and simultaneously giving them the power to allocate their money in crucial areas of health, education, and welfare. This in essence is a way to give more power to the rich over the public services which were designed to ameliorate the worst features of capitalist rule and to educate the youth of the nation.
In an era of massive cuts to social services, the largesse of the wealthy seems a blessing.  But what do the rich get in return for their philanthropy? Linsey McGoey argues that they receive both financial benefits and great influence over policy. She traces the history of philanthropy in the United States and discusses the Gates Foundation’s role in shaping primary and secondary school education, pharmaceutical patents, and more — with very little media scrutiny.

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