Trump’s America – Episode 98 – Giving To The Rich

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By Arthur Piccolo

News Americas, NEW YORK, NY, Fri. Nov. 30, 2018: The first of my four weeks of Christmas episodes.

“On the first week of Christmas my true self came to me ……….”

There is a new book just published with an old message that remains new year after year. Consider it a Christmas gift from me to you. The author is Rob Reich (not Robert Reich for the more informed another Reich ).

I cannot afford to send all my readers a copy of the new book. I wish I could. Sorry. Rather I hope you appreciate I am very generous with my own words.

The Christmas book is titled “Just Giving.” Perfect for the Holidays or as media partner The Wall Street Journal calls it: “Generosity With Benefits.” Or as I would call it: very, very BIG benefits that make the rest of us poorer.

And this week’s Christmas story is special for the SUPER Rich! Let me name a few: Jeff Bezos, Michael Bloomberg, Mark Zuckerberg, Bill Gates and yes, let me not forget DONALD J. TRUMP. This list is far longer but less than 1% of Americans for sure. They all benefit greatly from generosity with very BIG benefits.

Otherwise known as how to avoid paying taxes while at the same time gaining even more power funding your personal pet projects, which can be well almost anything they fancy. There are very few restrictions for funding institutions, foundations, projects, causes – whatever they are with tax FREE dollars.

Yes, go ahead and imagine you are a member of the 1%. No cost for dreaming – not here anyway. So, what is your favorite hobby or pet project? It can be almost anything. You can fund it with tax FREE dollars.

Take whatever portion of your wealth you want. Just set up a foundation or put it into an existing foundation. Who is to say if your foundation is socially valuable to any of the rest of us. That is the point specifically not the IRS.

Do good whatever is good to you. Fund it with tax FREE money. Get enjoyment and satisfaction doing so. Even better increase your power and influence doing so a good way to make more money for yourself. It is a gift all year long from the IRS. Only one condition you need to be RICH to do it.

SORRY all you poor people. I did not tell you NOT to be rich!

That is the one feature they all have in common. Why pay taxes on a Billion or two for the common good in taxes when you can spend all that money anyway you wish with almost no restrictions and totally under your control.

When I say “you,” I do not mean any of my readers, I think. But for those who can do so, it is Christmas every day of the year. Let me bring in this week’s media partner The Wall Street Journal here from November 27, 2018.

They begin: “Among the critics of the 2017 tax bill, when it was first introduced, were virtually all the major organizations that claim to speak on behalf of philanthropists and nonprofit groups. Their principal objection was the bill’s proposed increase in the standard deduction for income-tax payers.”

Of no interest to the super rich anyway. A deduction who cares.

Now let’s get to the real point …

“Critics take aim at government policy when it fails, in their view, to sufficiently encourage donations to charity. In “Just Giving: Why Philanthropy Is Failing Democracy and How It Can Do Better,” ……..

“Rob Reich, a Stanford political-science professor, argues that a more fundamental question needs to be asked: Why should government policies encourage philanthropy at all?”

A more fundamental question???? Sounds RADICAL to me.

WOW, is Rob Reich serious???? Is he looking for trouble! More …

“Throughout history, Mr. Reich says, religious and ethical traditions have provided people from many backgrounds with powerful reasons for giving. If governments are to play a role, Mr. Reich argues, they need a different kind of justification: a political one. They need to be able to identify the ways in which charity achieves public purposes, and for him the greatest public purpose is that of promoting equality. A policy that fails in this regard, he believes, is shaky at best and perhaps unjustifiable.”

RADICAL!!! Let me provide a timely ENCORE here …

“They need to be able to identify the ways in which charity achieves public purposes, and for him the greatest public purpose is that of promoting equality. A policy that fails in this regard, he believes, is shaky at best and perhaps unjustifiable.”

Got that. Rob Reich in his book wants government policies that promote EQULITY and much of so-called tax-FREE philanthropy does not while STEALING (my word) tax dollars all of us would benefit from.

What’s that I hear a chant coming from The Trump White House ….

LOCK HIM UP!! LOCK HIM UP!! LOCK REICH UP!

EQUALITY????? Is Rob Reich serious or did he write a comedy book? Reich HELLO, this is the United States of America and it is 2018. Wake up! You expect the very rich to be advocates for EQUALITY. Are you serious? Loser.

Rob Reich obviously did not read “Winners Take All” by Anand Giridharadas, which I named the most important new book of 2018. Anand Giridharadas says time to wake up to Inequality and Extreme Capitalism destroying our future. Wait a moment that is also Rob Reich’s message from almost the same perspective. Reich’s point is all the very rich Americans giving money to their favorite causes while avoiding lots of taxes has the same result. Inequality!

The rich get richer and more powerful while doing “good” while only they decide what is worthy of their wealth. In many ways Bill Gates is the ultimate example he has given Billions of tax-FREE dollars yes to The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation one of the largest foundations on Earth, provide Gates tremendous power globally and today he is richer than he has ever been.

WOW, WOW, WOW, that is quite a deal. For Bill Gates, not you. Let me share the “wealth” here and not just concentrate on Gates. How about another good example? Michael Bloomberg, another serial giver, just gave over $1 BILLION TAX FREE dollars to his alma mater, the elite expensive university John Hopkins University where most, but not all whose students, come from wealthy privileged families. Rich or poor, Bloomberg is donating $1 BILLION + tax FREE dollars to John Hopkins so none of the students have to pay tuition.

By contrast, think of how much real good Bloomberg would have done NOT giving that $1 BILLION plus to John Hopkins but instead to public schools in poor under-served neighborhoods in New York City, where it could have provided these students all kinds of opportunities they are denied?

Why should Bloomberg bother? The answer is he should not. He gets the very same tax-FREE benefit worth many millions $$$ to him in tax savings, giving it to a rich university with a huge endowment and lots of privileged students. Obviously, giving to Hopkins makes Michael Bloomberg feel good, and as far as our government and the IRS is concerned, that is all that counts. Amen.

Now is a perfect time to return to WSJ’s review of Reich’s “Just Giving.”

This long passage is very much worth reading and studying …

“The main problem with current policy, Mr. Reich argues, is that it confers more benefits on the well-to-do than on others: think of those tax-deductible

gifts and estate bequests, whose value to the individual increases with the wealth of the donor. Inevitably, he says, a policy that encourages ……”

“people to give liberally to charity winds up reinforcing inequality: It directs resources to institutions that the better-off prefer, such as well-financed schools, prestigious hospitals and elite cultural organizations.

“Meanwhile, schools, programs and projects whose purpose is to help the less well-off find themselves in need of money. Mr. Reich is concerned as well about wealthy grant-making foundations, such as Gates, Ford and Rockefeller: In his view, they enable the super-rich to influence public life long after the deaths of their founders, and, beyond minimal rules, they don’t have to account to anyone for how they spend their money.”

So, it is in Bloomberg’s case, as my “case study” here.  This is me not but The Wall Street Journal speaking below …

The government has no ability to say: “WAIT A MINUTE MULTI-BILLIONAIRE MICHAEL BLOOMBERG, it is your right to give $1 BILLION plus to John Hopkins University for any purpose you like. But all other Americans are NOT going to give you a very special benefit worth many millions of dollars by NOT taxing you on those funds unless it truly serves the greater good, and giving rich kids free tuition does not and/or kids who can easily afford to take out student loans for college and pay them later and who will all get very good paying jobs after graduating from John Hopkins!

To which Rob Reich says in the words of the WSJ book reviewer …

“Mr. Reich believes philanthropy needs to be justified by its instrumental value, especially its egalitarian effects.”

To which I say:  Inequality and Extreme Capitalism are destroying our future. The over use and misuse of tax FREE wealth is stealing from everyone else tax funds that should go to the common good to be allocated by those we elect to do so.

It may be time for a WEALTH TAX for the super-rich for Christmas!

“Joy to the world, equality is reborn…. let Heaven and Earth and ALL Americans rejoice … let equality reign …. JOY TO THE WORLD.”

(This series dedicated in honor of the late Liu Xiaobo & Jamal Khashogg)

Arthur-Piccolo-ObamasAmericaEDITOR’S NOTE: About The Writer: Arthur Piccolo is a professional writer and commentator and often writes about Latin America for New Americas.