Just Giving: Why Philanthropy Is Failing Democracy and How It Can Do Better (Hardback)Rob Reich (author)
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The troubling ethics and politics of philanthropy
Is philanthropy, by its very nature, a threat to today's democracy? Though we may laud wealthy individuals who give away their money for society's benefit, Just Giving shows how such generosity not only isn't the unassailable good we think it to be but might also undermine democratic values and set back aspirations of justice. Big philanthropy is often an exercise of power, the conversion of private assets into public influence. And it is a form of power that is largely unaccountable, often perpetual, and lavishly tax-advantaged. The affluent-and their foundations-reap vast benefits even as they influence policy without accountability. And small philanthropy, or ordinary charitable giving, can be problematic as well. Charity, it turns out, does surprisingly little to provide for those in need and sometimes worsens inequality.
These outcomes are shaped by the policies that define and structure philanthropy. When, how much, and to whom people give is influenced by laws governing everything from the creation of foundations and nonprofits to generous tax exemptions for donations of money and property. Rob Reich asks: What attitude and what policies should democracies have concerning individuals who give money away for public purposes? Philanthropy currently fails democracy in many ways, but Reich argues that it can be redeemed. Differentiating between individual philanthropy and private foundations, the aims of mass giving should be the decentralization of power in the production of public goods, such as the arts, education, and science. For foundations, the goal should be what Reich terms "discovery," or long-time-horizon innovations that enhance democratic experimentalism. Philanthropy, when properly structured, can play a crucial role in supporting a strong liberal democracy.
Just Giving investigates the ethical and political dimensions of philanthropy and considers how giving might better support democratic values and promote justice.
Publisher: Princeton University Press
Number of pages: 256
Dimensions: 216 x 140 mm
"One of the LSE Marshall Institute's Books of 2019"
"A Choice Outstanding Academic Title of the Year"
"Surveying philanthropy from ancient Athens to the modern-day Rockefeller Foundation, and political philosophers from John Stuart Mill to John Rawls, Stanford political science professor Reich . . . mounts a wide-ranging critique of charity and the government preferments that subsidize it. . . . A lucid, thought-provoking analysis of the public impact of charity." * Publishers Weekly *
"Critics take aim at government policy when it fails, in their view, to sufficiently encourage donations to charity. In Just Giving, Rob Reich . . . argues that a more fundamental question needs to be asked: Why should government policies encourage philanthropy at all?"---Leslie Lenkowsky, Wall Street Journal
"In this erudite study, Stanford University political philosopher Rob Reich quotes . . . gems from the history of ideas to explore what he calls the 'plutocratic bias' inherent in large-scale philanthropy today. He treats readers to rich insights from enlightenment philosophers onwards who have criticised the assumption that mega-giving from the mega-rich is something to celebrate."---Linsey McGoey, Times Higher Education
"An instant classic."---David Callahan, Inside Philanthropy
"Reich judiciously weighs the philosophical pros and cons of tax-subsidised philanthropy."---Edward Luce, Financial Times
"It is well-written with plenty of supporting evidence, and interesting philosophical discussions." * Pennsylvania Literary Journal *
"An elegant critique of philanthropy as enacted in the modern state." * LSE The Marshall Institute *
"In this groundbreaking monograph, Rob Reich provides the first book-length political theory of philanthropy. Against the widespread folk view that philanthropy is an unqualified good, Reich argues that certain forms of philanthropy can exacerbate inequality and threaten democratic ideals . . . [it] is an instant classic." * Political Science Quarterly *
"Just Giving rigorously documents the power grabs, antidemocratic dominance, and the warehouse-ing of philanthropic gifts to take advantage of tax breaks . . . everyone should read this book- and everyone should be angry." * Nonprofit and Voluntary Sector Quarterly *
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