An interesting extract from The Frontman: Bono (In the Name of Power), by Harry Browne, loc 2967:
What is intriguing about Bono’s rhapsody is the part of the history lesson that really excited him: not democracy, but the ability of a group of rich men to bring about dramatic change, and to do so in the name of a ringingly good idea. The association of this peculiar form of greatness with Bill Gates, who had become something of a partner and patron to Bono, is surely no accident. (For more on the Gates connection, see below.) Bono’s version of America’s ‘idea’, in short, is fully in keeping with his own campaigning practice: rich and powerful men making decisions and creating change that they say is in the interests of everyone else – who may or may not get a say in the matter.
I’d like to find more unguarded statements of inspiration by prominent philanthrocapitalists, in order to consider their underlying motivations.
A fascinating observation in No Such Thing as a Free Gift, by Linsey McGoey, loc 785. I wonder if the digital elites who interest me see their wealth in similar terms?
It was a Janus-faced ideology; one side of Carnegie was extraordinarily generous, expending time and vast financial sums on goals such as military disarmament and racial equality. On the other side, he adopted ever more draconian policies towards his workers the more convinced he became that his wealth would ultimately benefit the larger community.
From No Such Thing as a Free Gift, by Linsey McGoey, Loc 492:
The William J. Clinton Foundation dispensed money to numerous causes, with a focus on global health and economic development. Band’s idea was something new. He saw the need for an annual event, similar to Davos, which could bring powerful elites into contact with each other to forge ‘partnerships’ aimed at solving global problems. The first meeting of the Clinton Global Initiative (CGI) was held in 2005 and the get-together has grown larger ever since. Organizations pay a membership fee of $ 20,000 each year ($ 19,000 of which is tax deductible). This fee includes attendance at the CGI annual meeting, held in New York, as well as what the Clinton Foundation describes as “media support and showcasing opportunities.” The meeting is billed as a chance to publicize one’s philanthropic efforts to the “nearly 1,000 members of the media [who] are on-site at the Annual Meeting each year to report on the accomplishments of CGI members.” The $ 20,000 membership fee is just to get past the door. Corporate donors often spend hundreds of thousands extra in sponsoring the annual meeting. Once inside, the event is run a bit like a charity auction.
I had no idea how rapidly this was growing. From No Such Thing as a Free Gift, by Linsey McGoey, loc 282:
Nearly half of the 85,000 private foundations in the United States alone were created in the past fifteen years. About 5,000 more philanthropic foundations are set up each year.
There are questions that can be raise empirically about whether this represents an overall growth in charitable giving. But the evidence of elite philanthropy seems unsalable. As she observes on loc 302:
The surge in global philanthropy is rooted in growing wealth concentration, something that has enriched the ability to give away eye-popping sums.