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  • 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 likeFairer Economies”, “Good Tech,” andHow 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.

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  • 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 ChangeIt'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 thegenerosityof 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

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On January 25th, 2021, a group of elite billionaires and political movers convened through their

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为什么亿万富翁不会拯救我们(Why Billionaires Won't Save Us)

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    joey joey 發佈於 2021 年 06 月 12 日
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