Be it resolved: Billionaire philanthropy is bad for society
Play • 53 min

Philanthropy, the act of giving, the sharing of one's resources is an inscrutable facet of our social compact. But as global economic trends widen the disparity between the haves and have-nots, the act of philanthropic giving has come under increased scrutiny. In just the last 18 months, billionaires have increased their wealth by $1.2 trillion dollars as markets boom while the rest of the global economy crumbles. And in the spirit of altruism, billionaires have committed portions of this windfall to serve the people most in need. But is it really making a difference? A growing movement of scholars, thinkers, and politicians believe the time has come to call these philanthropic efforts what they are: expensive PR campaigns that valorize extreme wealth and perpetuate a status quo of crushing inequality. If billionaires wanted to help the world, they would push for higher taxes, a greater role for government, and a fairer division of society’s scarce resources. Supporters of large-scale philanthropy argue the critics' arguments are simplistic and ill informed. Citizens should be angry at governments for letting the urgent problems we face as species fester for generations. It’s billionaire donors, not governments, who are stepping up with creative solutions to some of the biggest global challenges. In our time, billionaire philanthropy is creating tangible benefits for millions of people around the world by addressing urgent public health crises, environmental degradation and pushing for accountability on behalf of all donors. The world is a better place thanks to billionaire philanthropy and we are all benefiting from their charity.

Arguing for the motion is Rob Reich, the Director of Stanford's McCoy Center for Ethics in Society, co-director of Stanford's Center on Philanthropy and Civil Society, and author of Just Giving: Why Philanthropy is Failing Democracy and How it Can Do Better.

Arguing against the motion is Beth Breeze, the Director of the Centre for Philanthropy at University of Kent and author of upcoming book In Defense of Philanthropy due out this November.

Rob Reich: “We should direct our scrutiny at the rich people for how they make their money, as well as how they give it away”.

Beth Breeze: “Philanthropy simply means love of humankind. I'm in favor of more, not less human kindness in our society”.

Sources: CNN, CNBC, ABC, and ABC News Australia

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