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 Lappé, excerpt from Time for Progressives to Grow Up

Thursday, November 6, 2014

Philanthropy in the age of growing inequality

Click here to access article by David F. Ruccio from Real-World Economics Review Blog.

From all of the reports from the One Percent's media, one would think that Bill Gates was the savior of the world's poor and downtrodden. Ruccio summarizes a report from Grain to show where Gate's money is really going. Another good summary is at The Guardian. Mainstream media, which is controlled by the One Percent, love to portray our rich masters as generous and caring toward the suffering masses in the Ninety-Nine Percent.

Ruccio uses this example to focus on the real significance of concentrated wealth under a capitalist system: it provides individual "winners" of the capitalist game the power to unilaterally make important decisions affecting entire societies. This power plays out in every sector of societies under capitalism--not just in philanthropy. The irony is that capitalist propaganda and indoctrination organs hide this reality behind rhetoric about the democratic nature of a "free-market" economy. (For some reason, they don't like to use the word "capitalism".)
Many of my well-intentioned students are in awe of Bill Gates. He’s a rich guy, a successful businessman, who is giving away a large portion of his income to help solve the world’s economic and social problems through the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation. What could be more admirable?

I do remind them that it’s Gates alone who gets to decide what the problems are, what the solutions are, and how those solutions will be enacted. We’ve seen that already in the area of education reform. The rest of us have no say in the matter.