We looked inside some of the tweets by @AnandWrites and here's what we found interesting.
Inside 100 Tweets
Rankings (sorted by number of followers)
456. in category Writer
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We're led by a billionaire crook because, for decades, billionaires ran America like a club for their own benefit; and now billionaires promise us they are the solution. I wrote @WinnersTakeAll for all who ask why we're here and how we set ourselves free. https://www.penguinrandomhouse.com/books/539747/winners-take-all-by-anand-giridharadas/9780451493248/ …
This priceless @nytimes piece on the "philanthropy arms race" in France to repair Notre Dame is literally @AnandWrites' "Winners Take All" in three paragraphs. Dying. 🤣 https://www.nytimes.com/2019/04/17/world/europe/yellow-vest-notre-dame-fire-donations.html?action=click&module=Top%20Stories&pgtype=Homepage …
Which gets us to the heart of the matter. They are happy to part with some of their money so long as they don't have to part with any of their power. In fact, through the donation, they increase their power -- reputationally, access-wise, and in the administration of the gift.
"I feel much more comfortable with our ability as a private foundation to allocate those funds than I do giving them to the government," Michael Dell said in Davos, which is a conference similar to that Saudi Future Investment Initiative, but on a Swiss mountain.
Even if you pay a lot of taxes, your money isn't special when it takes the form of taxes. More of it doesn't buy you more esteem, more discretion, more of a say in how the money is spent. But when you donate, that can get you a board seat, an advisory role, the right to decide.
This offends many plutocrats in a few distinct ways. One, they just like controlling things, deciding things. That's often how they make and keep their money. They are, or think they are, good at it. They want to do that same deciding here. But with taxes, they can't.
But we haven't yet talked about the biggest differentiator for many of the plutocrats I have reported on. The biggest differentiator is control. The problem with taxes is that you wire them in, and they go into a big pile with everyone else's, and they go where they go.
So you're now out only $50 million, but you have stories out there saying you spent $100 million, and maybe you have general reputational benefits or specific access benefits that help you get a project approved or avoid some legislative crackdown, which sweetens the deal.
So when you donate, you may drop $100 million. But (a) you get some of that back via deduction. And (b) many donors will also derive some intangible reputational and access benefits. If a $100 million check makes it easier to call a senator, that could be worth millions.
What I mean by "defray the cost": If you're rich and powerful, you may have various interests that make you dependent on decisions by public actors, and various things you want to avoid (antitrust rules, regulations). So having a moral glow, being seen as a good guy, pays.
Another reason is reputational. Paying taxes doesn't give you much esteem. To paraphrase Chris Rock, one doesn't get credit for doing what you're supposed to do. But donations, especially well-publicized ones, buy you reputational benefits that in effect also defray the cost.
What we see in France is part of a larger pattern: The plutes often hate to pay their taxes but love to donate. Now, you might say, what's the big difference? Why do you hate paying $100 million in taxes but relish paying $100 million in a philanthropic gift?
.@EmmanuelMacron, a former banker, eliminated France's wealth tax because the rich apparently couldn't afford to underwrite social programs at the level they were. Then the Notre Dame fire happened, and billionaires got into a contest to give away money. https://www.nytimes.com/2019/04/17/world/europe/yellow-vest-notre-dame-fire-donations.html …
Some questions about philanthropy, large and small, and the re-building of Notre Dame. https://www.nytimes.com/2019/04/17/world/europe/notre-dame-france-reconstruction.html …
If the French billionaires thought they were going to be able to shower coins on the Notre Dame and swat away all questions about how they made the money, whether they paid their proper taxes, and what power and access the donations will buy, they hadn’t heard of @robreich.