Philanthropy: Good For the World, Bad For Democracy?

August 30, 2018
Updated 3mo ago

By Conor White

Americans gave more than $410 billion to charity last year. Many may see that as a positive trait, but author Anand Giridharadas thinks such altruism can often do more harm than good.

"I started this book trying to understand how is it that we live in this age of tremendous generosity and a system that reliably shuts most people out of the 'American Dream'," Giridharadas said Thursday in an interview on Cheddar.

In his new book, "Winners Take All: The Elite Charade of Changing the World," Giridharadas points to the Koch brothers, the Sackler family, and Goldman Sachs, among other examples, as entities that are praised for their giving but may actually cause real damage to Americans.

"The reality is, this 'changing the world' thing gives you a moral glow and allows you to get away with power grabbing that we would never allow some chemical company to get away with," said Giridharadas, formerly a reporter for the New York Times.

He said the same theory applies to some very prominent American visionaries.

"Mark Zuckerberg's not going to change the world, Elon Musk is not going to change the world," Giridharadas said. "These people say they're changing the world to grab wealth and power."

While tech mogul Zuckerberg has promised to give away most of his wealth, Giridharadas noted that he's also the same person responsible for building a monopoly, putting newspapers out of business, and potentially allowing foreign actors to interfere in U.S. elections.

"We need to change where we go to change the world," Giridharadas said.

In Giridharadas's view, America can solve some of its many problems by strengthening federal programs and reforming systems that already exist.

"We don't create one little charter school, we actually make sure we fund all public schools in America adequately and equally," he explained. "We don't allow some people to get health care and others not, we actually give people health care based on their being a human being."

"We need not an age of little initiatives and projects and giving back, we need an age of reform."

"Winners Take All: The Elite Charade of Changing the World" was released on Tuesday.

For full interview click here.