Do you want the good news, or the bad news?

The good news about the Warren Buffett gift to the Gates Foundation is that (according to the New York Times) the Foundation has to spend all of each year’s gift before it gets the next installment.  While that’s a lot of money to give away all of a sudden, and there are bound to be slips, it’s an excellent model for philanthropy: instead of sitting on piles of cash, go spend them for the public good.

The bad news is that the Buffett gift–and the existence of the Gates Foundation, for that matter–encourages Republicans to claim, falsely, that private philanthropy can replace government spending on, oh, foreign aid or reproductive health.  Let’s hope the Foundation decides to fund some advocacy groups that will help educate public officials that this isn’t the case–and shouldn’t be.  Individuals and private foundations reflect private values, no matter how generous.  It takes public money to reflect and enact public values; so if we really hold dear what we claim to (health, education, liberty, equality) we’re going to have to put our money–well, you know.



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