Monday, November 25, 2013
Give It Away
Ordinarily, I don't watch '60 Minutes,' haven't for years. Problems with their coverage have been noted many times in other venues, so I won't go into them here, but I happened to catch a rhapsodic segment featuring billionaires and their 'giving' in a previous episode that has me gobsmacked. It was an episode which included a piece on the Recycler Orchestra of Paraguay. Simply bizarre, and really, why should we care?
I know that these days the billionaires who own our governments and rule us with rod and staff are looked to as near-divinities by many of the Rabble, just as many of said billionaires expect groveling and supplication by their inferiors. It is their due.
It is a strange and disorienting circumstance for someone who grew up as I did, a rebel, who came to understand that no human, let alone any 'god,' was owed a god-damned thing simply for being. This attitude, which I still hold, didn't sit well with my Betters, of course, but there you are. There simply is no situation in which I find that anyone is intrinsically worthy by reason of wealth or status -- or for that matter religiosity.
Thus it was with some amusement at first that I watched the segment about billionaires and their 'giving pledge' hoo-hah, a commitment to give half their fortune -- at least -- to... erm... "charity".
Like Pete Peterson's numerous 'charities' focused on the national debt, particularly by promoting reductions in or elimination of Social Security and the like. Things that ordinary people have paid for an need but from which rich people like Peterson wish to profit mightily once they get their hands on that "free money" revenue stream. That sort of stuff.
Who are these people, anyway, and why ever are they being so very generous? Generosity to whom, and for what purpose we may ask?
The list of givers is here for those who wish to check it out. There are letters from most of those on the list expressing their urge to give and why, sometimes even designating who is receiving their funding largesse and the purpose of same.
The 60 Minutes segment focused on Bill and Melinda Gates and Warren Buffett, the organizers of the Giving Pledge outfit, and with whose generosity few have so far taken exception. That they are doing good works with their many billions is widely acknowledged, the Gates in the realm of Third World public health and economic development, and Buffett... well, I'm not entirely sure... it appears he's given his largest donations to the Gates Foundation. How convenient. The rest goes to his own foundation and those of his children. What they do, though, has not really been much in the public eye. So far as I can tell from the Wiki, the Buffett Foundation mostly deals in population control among Our Little Brown Brothers and Sisters...something the Gates Foundation is also involved in. There are always too many of them after all.
I haven't made an extensive study of the list of Billionaire Givers, not yet anyway, and many of them I've never heard of before -- which is one of the miracles of today's Billionaires. So many of them manage to stay out of public view, unheralded, largely unknown to the Rabble, and able to keep a low profile even among their peers. I don't know of a previous era when so many of those who actually own our governments and much else besides were able to essentially disappear into another dimension (as it were) and conduct so much of their business behind the curtain of near-anonymity.
Those I have looked into, though, tend to be aligned with the Gates and Buffetts in their "charitable" interests, which means utilizing their wealth for neo-imperial objectives. What they appear to be doing is extending the model of Anglo-American public health, education and development practices globally, in essence turning the entire globe into "a better place" by transforming it into a version of the United States or Britain c. 1930 -- oh, and by the way, reverting the United States and Britain thereto as well.
Interesting. This is a form of imperialism and leveling such as I never imagined before, and yet there it is.
Controlling the populations of those people is as important to the High and the Mighty of today as it was to their predecessors. I've written before about how the British imperialists used famine strategically to control restive colonial populations, from Ireland to India and beyond, but it was ugly to say the least, and it was painfully obvious what it was. When the Soviets and Chinese adopted similar policies of control, of course, there was no end of OUTRAGE!!!!™. Hypocrisy! Yay!
But there was a domestic component as well.
Most of us are familiar with the Eugenics Movement which came into its own at the turn of the 20th Century. It came to a kind of apotheosis during the Nazi Regime in Germany and its conquest of Europe.
It was a means of making "a better world" by reducing or eliminating the population of "defectives" and "lesser peoples" of all kinds. Eugenics became nearly universal government policy throughout the West -- regardless of Nazi adoption of eugenics policies -- and many aspects of it were adopted in the Communist East as well.
Clearly, elements of eugenicism have been preserved among Our High and Our Mighty to this day. We see them in action through the many "charitable" activities of the Billionaire Givers.
They are out to make "a better world" for themselves and their issue. As for the rest of us, I'm reminded of the old cowboy song, "Get Along Little Dogies:" Get along little dogies, it's your misfortune and none of my own.
I noted with some little interest that Pierre Omidyar, slayer of media dragons, is on the list of Billionaire Givers. Since he has been in the news of late over his pledge to fund a (for profit) news outlet headed by the redoubtable Glenn Greenwald (oh dear...) to the tune of many hundreds of millions of dollars, I thought it was interesting that he also pledges to give away his wealth to "charity," in a parallel effort or actually a combined for profit/non-profit endeavor, with intentions that aren't entirely clear -- at least not from their Pledge Letter -- but which begin to become clear in an article written by muckrakers Mark Ames and Yasha Levine, an article which brings into question the whole concept of... giving... as it is performed by Omidyar, his Network, and the various others of his ilk to pursue similar activities and objectives.
I therefore continue to ask, "Who are these people, and what do they really want?"
It is, I suspect, little other than the same story we once knew about the High and the Mighty of Yore. They may -- or may not -- have done Good Works back in the day (we still treasure our Carnegie Libraries, don't we? I certainly appreciated one I spent many, many hours in when I was young). But these Good Works (or No) had a primary objective of ensuring the well being of the Givers on Earth as in Heaven, and served as a kind of protection from the Wrath of the Rabble for all that had been lost.
There are ulterior purposes. Always.
While we are urged never to look a gift horse in the mouth, it is wise to recall that major league charitable giving is always conducted for the benefit of the giver with little regard for the recipient's well being.
On the other hand, charitable giving by those who can little or least afford it is, by percentage of wealth and income, far greater than that of the Billionaire Givers as a rule. It comes with far fewer strings and is given almost entirely without regard to benefiting the giver.
Charitable giving -- or just plain helping one another however it can be done -- is one of the hallmarks of the Rabble the High and the Mighty are so intent on "helping." But that's a topic for another time.