Wednesday, December 09, 2009

For philanthropists of the past, charity was often a matter of simply giving money away, but the new generation of billionaires who are reshaping the way they give see charity as more like business. Matthew Bishop explains how philanthrocapitalism works and what it means for philanthropy. In Philanthrocapitalism, written with Michael Green, he speaks with Bill Gates, Bill Clinton, Warren Buffett, Oprah Winfrey, Bono, and other wealthy people motivated to change the world.

Read Matthew Bishop's blog here.


Matthew Bishop

Comments [26]


Gross! We don't want a world where rich people determine policy for everyone else. Nobody begrudges anyone's success, but every self-respecting human being wants to make it on his or her own. Philanthropy in recent years has been all about undermining public institutions and replacing them with vanity showcases with dubious long-term prospects.

Dec. 09 2009 09:35 PM
Jon P. from The Garden State

CJ from NY,

Ed Begley jr is also making a lot of money while living green on his TV cable.... No body is a complete saint when it invloves making lots of money.

The anger towards Philanthropists on this page is so typical. If you’re rich and successful, you can do no right, no matter who you give your money to…

Dec. 09 2009 01:37 PM
CJ from NY

Good points James and Justine. "Do as I as I say, not as I do. I'll throw a little money at charity through my tax-deductible foundation."

You have to love Ed Begley Jr. He is one of the few celebs who walks his talk.

Dec. 09 2009 12:52 PM
Tom from NYC

George Soros has done a lot to promote democracy throughout the world???? Really?? You and your guest should do some research. Soros has done more to attempt to cripple economies and destabilize currencies than anyone else. In regard to the recent economic woes in the U.S.,he was also quoted as saying "I'm having a very good crisis." Hardly an empathic attitude to the suffering of others!

The man is a megalomaniac, and the worst kind of capitalist robber baron; and yet, the Left falls for his smooth talk duplicity hook-line-and-sinker. I will never understand this.

Dec. 09 2009 12:50 PM
James from Brooklyn

Justine - I so agree. If you're flying a private jet around the world to warn people about carbon emissions, say, your logic must be, "well, I'm important enough that the carbon I emit (and the behavior I model) is worth my work." In this egoistic country of ours, where does that logic end?

Dec. 09 2009 12:42 PM
Mike from Manhattan

OVER PAY them to do the right thing? We dont NEED to do that! This is an apologist for the system that exploits us at best....

Dec. 09 2009 12:42 PM
Jeremy from nyc

Heres the LA times link...,0,2533850.story

Dec. 09 2009 12:41 PM

I think it's important to consider the cultural geopolitics of this philanthropy. Shakira is an interesting example of a philanthropist that is contributing money and resources to the region/country she grew up in. Other philanthropists, however benevolent their actions, continue to pahtologize underdevelopment, often at the expense of local poverty.

Dec. 09 2009 12:41 PM
Amparo from Brooklyn

My day is never complete without an apologist for income equality.

Dec. 09 2009 12:41 PM
Jeremy from nyc

There is something hugely missing in this discussion. According to the LA times in-depth investigation of the Gates Foundation they found it only gives 5% of its total per year and that it will NOT be given away in any of these people life-times! The Gates/Buffet money might not be given away for 100 years. The world needs ALL the gates/buffet money NOW in the next years as the world hangs in the balance. thanks, JL

Dec. 09 2009 12:39 PM
Justine Williams from Brooklyn

While I applaud the efforts of philanthrocapitalists and celanthropists, I am wonder why there is rarely any attention paid to connections between the issues that they are addressing and the quality of life that they represent and live as celebrities and wealthy people. There seems to be no internal critique on their parts of Hollywood, capitalism and the ways in which they choose to live are also contributing to inequality and excess.

Dec. 09 2009 12:36 PM
jtt from jackson heights

Those who have been blessed with great wealth should be happy to be taxed fairly. If they're not, they should be anyway. Then if they want to give away some of their money in addition, they deserve "extra credit".

The rest of us don't get to dictate how our tax dollars are spent, why should they?

Dec. 09 2009 12:36 PM
CJ from NY

I think philanthropy is wonderful but I am not sure I need to invest time in learning the details of how people give. It seems a little self-promoting to be featured in a book like this: "look at how smart and generous I am."

Dec. 09 2009 12:35 PM
James from Brooklyn

What about having an economic system - not one with declining real middle-class wages and a tax system tilted towards the massively rich - where everyday people are not in the position of serfs relative to a few corporations and very wealthy individuals who can deploy massive capital? What about the average person reclaiming the dignity of being able to help their fellow humans?

Dec. 09 2009 12:34 PM

What about Social Entrpreneur programs like those at NYU' Berkley Center. What does the guest think of social entreprennuership?

Dec. 09 2009 12:33 PM

I think it's sad, that people only respond those who are celebrities and those in power to get social causes done.

It's sad that a dedicated person in the non-profits can't get his phone call answered, but a celebrity can.

Dec. 09 2009 12:32 PM
Katherine Jackson from lower manhattan

But isn't the vast disparity in wealth one of the big contributing factors to global poverty, global hunger, etc.? Relying on the private sector has gotten us into trouble in so many areas-- look at the American health care imbroglio. In Europe, public funding -- yes, higher taxes -- has led to universal health care. The argument that government is unimaginative and only these hero-capitalists have the imagination to solve these problems certainly doesn't hold up in the case of universal health care, for example.

And the creation of immense wealth in itself contributes to all sorts of imbalances and economic problems -- viz. the financial meltdown, or the creation of a society dependent on ever-greater consumption (like our own), and the credit-dependency that has ensued.

Bottom line: doesn't the creation of great wealth contribute to global problems????

Dec. 09 2009 12:32 PM
Castorini from Brooklyn

Interesting that you mentioned turning the spotlight on Steve Jobs to ramp up his philanthropic profile. Looks as if he's worth under $6 billion--no pittance. But I've long wondered about the complete absence of Steve Ballmer--worth over $11 billion--who has no philanthropic profile whatsoever. I recall reading his response to a question about that--"Too busy. My wife can worry about that." What's up with that?

Dec. 09 2009 12:31 PM
Mike from Manhattan

"Giving wil solve the problems" ? inherent in that assumption is the premise that there wil be those that "Have " and those that "have not" . And that is the root of the problem. We should instead work toward redistributing wealth, opportunity and access. People do not need to be given too in a system that distributes these rights more equitably. We have many examples in History to illustrate that. Philanthropy soothes the cuts but unregulated, free market capitalism is the knife that causes the damage.

Dec. 09 2009 12:30 PM
Vincent Traficante from NYC

Shame on you. The richest .05% giving away money made to sound wonderful. Malaria in Africa. Yet, only as an example, Gates Castle that he live in. All coming from "poor" families. No question of pure luck or much worse for their success?
I'm a political economist. These people should not be labeled the title of this show. They would be the first (or 2-3) shot if the people had their say.

Dec. 09 2009 12:27 PM

What of the criticism that these large philanthropic organizations invest the majority of their money in corporations that undo the good that these organizations are trying to do?

Dec. 09 2009 12:25 PM

"Should we admire [Bill Gates]?" Oh when will LL stop asking these idiotic questions?

Dec. 09 2009 12:18 PM
James from Brooklyn

Could you ask Mr. Bishop how he might respond to Naomi Klein's position, which I support.

Roughly paraphrased, making things like public education into a matter of billionaires' largesse is wrong because public education should be consider a right, not a gift, and we the public should be taxed to provide this right.

Is there a danger that public institutions, and the idea of public goods, might be debased?

Dec. 09 2009 12:16 PM
Jgarbuz from Queens, NY

I think Christian philanthrophism and Jewish philanthrophism work a bit differently.
The kind of WASP and Scottish philantrophism practiced by Carnegie, Rockefeller, Bill Gates, etc., was to ruthlessly accumulate as much wealth as possible, and then give it all away much later in life, based on the NT ideal of storing up treasure in heaven by giving the earthly treasure away before death.

By contrast, the Jewish philantrophists tended more to give some it away all along the way as they made it, while making sure they got plenty of plaques and kudos along the way as well.

Dec. 09 2009 12:15 PM
RJ from brooklyn

Please include a discussion of what it means to have individuals with large amounts of money making decisions on public policy. Gates's money is driving many decisions on education and health care, on the ideas and implementation methodologies. I, for one, did not elect him to decide how my goddaughter should be educated.

Dec. 09 2009 12:03 PM
Gabrielle from Brooklyn

In regards to Bill Gates, how does his business ethics match up with his philanthropy? I've always been curious.

Thank you.

Dec. 09 2009 08:49 AM

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