I was moved by this incisive observation by my friend and former colleague Clifford W. Cobb (editor of The American Journal of Economics and Sociology) regarding foundations and philanthropy:
“Since so many progressive organizations are dependent on foundations for support, there is a tendency to think of those foundations as progressive. In fact, it would be more accurate to say that their aim is to provide just enough progressivity to keep things as they are–to buy off the dissent that might otherwise challenge the structures that have maintained inequality. Even the beloved progressive income tax was introduced originally (during the U.S. Civil War) for that reason–to provide a tiny offset to the dramatic increase in tariffs that cut deeply into the pockets of the poor by raising prices on necessities. Beware benevolence: it always comes with a price.”
The lessons of history and the writings of thinkers like Henry George are useful today more than ever.
March 17, 2016