Wednesday, April 06, 2016

April 6, 2016--With Charity for One

In his Second Inaugural, near the end of America's bitterest and bloodiest war, Abraham Lincoln called for "malice toward none . . . with charity for all."

In more recent years the Koch Brothers called for charity for one. Or two. Them.

Here's how this works thanks to an analysis by Jane Mayer in her important Dark Money: The Hidden History of the Billionaires Behind the Rise of the Radical Right--

Drawing largely on their half-understanding of the work of Austrian School economist Friedrich Hayek and the juvenile pieties and simplicities of novelist Ayn Rand, brother Charles, to justify the Kochs' anti-tax, anti-charity views, also cited the 12th century philosopher, Maimonides, by referring to him as saying, "I agree with Maimonides who defined the highest form of charity as dispensing with charity altogether, by enabling your fellow human beings to have the wherewithal to earn their own living."

In other words, do not allow inclinations or pressures to be charitable to interfere with people's motivation to amass unfettered wealth. Charity if unchecked can interfere with the workings of the Market's "invisible hand."

No matter that this is totally untrue. It fits the Kochs' narrative of what to them and their network of big-money activists constitutes a better world.

They also call for the end of all taxation--federal, state, personal, inheritance, corporate, and capital gains--as it too gets in the way of the freest of enterprise.

Foster Freiss, the Wyoming fund manager and Koch ally since the 1980s asserted this blatantly when quoted in Chrystia Freeland's, Plutocrats: The Rise of the New Global Super-Rich:

He argued that the public benefited more when the wealthy were not taxed because they would use their money to benefit the public more efficiently and effectively than the government. As he put it, left alone and unregulated, they would "self-tax" by contributing to charities.

With a straight face, Freiss wrote--
It's a question--do you believe the government should be taking your money and spending it for you, or do you want to spend it for you? (sic) It's the top 1 percent that probably contributes more to making the world a better place than the 99 percent.
Key to understanding this gibberish is the "probably."

The top 1 percent probably would do so many wonderful things to improve the world. Like fund right-wing think tanks. Like promote the activities of the Tea Party. Like support states in their efforts to gerrymander and suppress voting. Like giving more money to museums that will carve their names in granite than to organizations that are dedicated to assisting the poor.

Have the Kochs ever given anything to God's Love We Deliver, an organization that brings hot meals to the homebound?

Have Freiss and the Kochs contributed any of their cash to rebuild crumbling bridges?

Have they supported any charities that provide healthcare for the indigent?

Is there a homeless shelter named for any of them?

They have not done any of these things.

If they were sincere, rather than merely selfish, to demonstrate that if the government, which they want to phase out, were to eliminate all social programs, including Medicare and Social Security (which they favor) and would eliminate all forms of taxation (which they advocate), to illustrate their generous intentions, if they were allowed to keep all of their money, they would in fact have already done things, again to quote Freiss, "to make the world a better place."

With the exception of some charitable giving to cancer research, I can find few such examples.

Though they have thus far given $64 million to the Metropolitan Museum of Art.

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