字幕列表 影片播放 列印英文字幕 On January 25th, 2021, a group of elite billionaires and political movers convened through their screens for the World Economic Forum, also known as Davos. If ever there was an event that laid bare just how strong the connection between money and power is, this would be it. Across the span of four days, thought leaders, politicians, and billionaires basked in the light of ideas like “Fairer Economies”, “Good Tech,” and “How to Save the Planet.” In short, it's a conference for the global ruling class to decide on how they think the world should work, and to put those ideas into action. Davos is just one example of elite do-gooding and philanthropy in the billionaire class. At first glance, big ticket donations seem great, especially for climate action. More money towards crucial initiatives right? Well, as we'll soon see, billionaire philanthropy is far from the social good we paint it out to be. This video is sponsored by CuriosityStream, which now comes with Nebula for free when you sign up using the link in the description. The State of Climate Philanthropy As wealth inequality soars and climate change destroys the lives of millions, the hyper-rich are beginning to realize that hoarding ALL their money might not be the best thing for their public image. As a result, there's been a deluge of high-profile climate philanthropy in recent years, with the likes of Bill Gates, Jeff Bezos, and Elon Musk at the helm. They almost seem to be trying to outcompete each other in terms of donations. Musk created a four year tech competition that awards $100 million to whoever invents the most effective carbon capture technology. Bill Gates wrote a whole book on climate change, which I'll talk about later, and gathered his billionaire boys club to create a $1 billion venture fund that invests in fringe climate technologies like cloud seeding. And finally, Jeff Bezos stomped into the climate philanthropy space by establishing a $10 billion Earth Fund, which will dole out grants to climate-oriented nonprofits and for-profits over the next 10 years. While these gifts initially seem impressive, even a cursory glance at the math reveals otherwise. Musk's $100 million reward is just .06% of his wealth as of writing this. That's the equivalent of someone with a net worth of $40,000 giving away $23. To add insult to injury, his $100 million prize is actually spread out over a number of different winners and runners-up, so the grand prize is really only $50 million. Jeff Bezos' $10 billion fund is definitely larger, but still insignificant considering he's currently the wealthiest man on the planet right now, and the sum is also being handed out over a 10 year period. So really the fund is granting just 0.51% of Bezos' net worth every year. But these quick calculations are just the tip of the iceberg. If you dig even deeper, the new world of climate philanthropy is a lot less about changing the world than philanthropists would like us to think. How Philanthropists Changed Change “It's these nice deeds, this sprinkling of nice deeds, that help us uphold a system in which rich people can monopolize the future, horde progress and kill the American dream. And not satisfied with that, they're trying to kill the planet now, too.” That's Anand Giridharadas, author of Winners Take All. This clip perfectly demonstrates how philanthropy, especially in the climate space, is more of a charade than an actual avenue for change. Philanthropy should be seen less as an act of altruism and more as an act of self and wealth preservation. Philanthropy, as far back as Rockefeller and Carnegie, works to benefit billionaires in three main ways. The first is through image whitewashing. One way this happens is through large donations to museums and schools in return for a family name on a building or a gallery wing. This is exemplified in the Sackler family's donations to a number of academic institutions in the midst of lawsuits accusing the family of fueling the opioid crisis in the U.S. with their company's product OxyContin. And we can also see this in Jeff Bezos' multiple environmental donations that seem to attempt to counteract the dismal environmental and ethical reputation of Amazon. A union-busting company that has acquired a massive carbon footprint and squeezes its workers so hard that they have to pee in bottles just to complete orders. Same thing with Elon Musk, and even Bill Gates, who amassed his fortune by crushing the competition with intellectual property laws and monopolies. On top of all of that, multiple studies have shown that the richest 1% cause double the amount of emissions of the world's poorest 50%. So, if these billionaires really want to make change, they first need to look towards the exploitative practices that are making them rich. And if you're thinking these industry titans are extremely generous, they're not. A recent study found that the richest 20 people only donated .8% of their wealth. Essentially, billionaires like Jeff Bezos and Elon Musk are spending millions to mask the harm they cause making billions. This philanthropic whitewashing not only allows billionaires extreme cultural and political influence, but it allows for even more financial consolidation. The way the U.S. tax code is set up, which is where most of the richest people live, the government essentially subsidizes big ticket giving. When a billionaire like Bezos puts billions of dollars into a donor advised fund or gives to a non-profit, he is then able to write that amount off in his taxes. Essentially, when Bezos donates $500 million to wildfire relief, he is then taxed less because of that. This robs the government and the people of vast sums of money, and only returns a semblance of that capital under the control of billionaires. This is an inherently undemocratic way to decide how money is distributed in our society. Maybe the most insidious effect of big philanthropy is how billionaires are now changing what change means. Over the past 20 years, small donor donations have decreased, while mega-donations have increased. The ultra-rich are slowly consolidating funding for non-profits into the hands of the few. This rise in big ticket donations means an increased control of what nonprofits and foundations choose to focus on. Simply put, if your organization relies on the money of Jeff Bezos or Elon Musk, you'll be hesitant to criticize Tesla, Amazon, or espouse anti-capitalist views lest they pull their funding. A collective of radical feminists of color, INCITE!, write about this struggle in the intro to their anthology, The Revolution Will Not Be Funded. After securing funding from the Ford Foundation in early 2004, INCITE! developed two projects dedicated to abolishing state and interpersonal violence. Yet, six months later the Ford Foundation suddenly pulled its funding because of INCITE!'s vocal support of the Palestinian liberation struggle. On a personal note, this year I took a sponsorship from Bill Gates' private office to promote his new book. An act which I very much regret. Not only were some of the solutions in the book questionable, but I had to water down my criticism of Bill Gates to one line for fear of losing the sponsorship. I have since redistributed the money I received from the sponsorship, but the mere act of self-censorship was illuminating for me. If I, who wasn't reliant on that ad revenue to continue the channel, wasn't able to criticize Gates, what does that mean for a non-profit whose very existence is tied to the “generosity” of the billionaire class? Both these instances reveal the power of financial donations as a way to control progress. Big gifts come with big asterisks. Some stipulations might just be a name on a building or a seat on the board, but some can also mean dragging organizations away from radical change and into tinkering within the status quo. They co-opt organizations and even whole departments in universities and steer them with financial capital away from substantial systems change. This is at its core undemocratic. Who decided that Bill Gates gets to be the tsar of global health or that Elon Musk gets to rule over all things electric cars and space? The moment we began to rely on the unelected, wealthy few to create change, was the moment we were held hostage to their political whims. The reality is that big philanthropy helps to uphold the very system that is trashing the planet, exploiting workers, and making the ultra-rich richer. The money that Gates and Musk are committing to climate action for example, only seem to entrench their techno-optimist worldview. They're pouring billions into untested technological solutions like cloud seeding and carbon capture that have yet to be tested at scale. While these technologies are important to understand and research, they are certainly not the answer to climate change like Musk and Gates seem to think. In addition, these techno-solutions are appealing to the likes of Gates and Musk because they don't require any loss of money, power, or status. In fact, implementing a technology developed by Bill Gates' climate venture initiative like cloud seeding at scale would only amplify Bill Gates's power. Much like what we're seeing him do now with the hoarding of vaccines through the lionization patents, Gates could exert political control and influence through the very sky above us. Big Philanthropy Erodes Movements The reality is that true climate action will not be funded by billionaires. The world they live in, and the system that has made them rich is the very same one that is fueling the climate crisis. True progress, true action means taking power away from billionaires through heavy taxation and the simultaneous building of movements rooted in truly democratic and collective ideals. Jeff Bezos and Elon Musk don't know what small towns and city neighborhoods need, only the communities know. So they shouldn't be the ones deciding the course of action. Take for example, Mark Zuckerberg. In his arrogance he threw $100 million at Newark to revitalize the city's school system. The man had barely even visited the place. After funneling $100 million into a foundation, not much changed. In part because the foundation had little interaction with any of Newark's community groups or resident, and Newark's mayor at the time heavily criticized Zuckerberg saying, “You can't just cobble up a bunch of money and drop it in the middle of the street and say, 'This is going to fix everything.'” Real changes in terms of climate action and justice more broadly means transforming the entire world through people-oriented movements. We need to move from worker exploitation to worker liberation, from environmental degradation to environmental stewardship, from white supremacy to racial justice. This can't happen if billionaires are still hoarding wealth and deciding what change they feel comfortable with. If for example, instead of keeping it, Jeff Bezos redistributed the wealth he gained in the pandemic to Amazon workers, they would each receive a bonus worth $105,000. Taxing the wealthy is essential in the struggle for progress, but it's not the only thing we can do. Looking within our communities, towards mutual aid groups or grassroots organizations building people power like INCITE! instead of looking towards the scraps that capitalist monarchs throw us is essential because climate and justice solutions will only last if they are created by and for communities. Real change means the loss of power for billionaires, and transferring that power into the hands of billions. Watching this video you might have noticed that I barely touched on the massive donations coming from conservative billionaires like the Koch family. Well, I actually did write a little extra section all about conservative billionaires and their political influence, but it didn't really fit well with the rest of the video, so I've uploaded that section as an extended edition of this video on the streaming platform my creator friends and I built called Nebula. The bonus content replaces this ad because there aren't any ads on Nebula. 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