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Reich writes: "Increasingly, being rich in America means not having to come across anyone who's not."

Economist, professor, author and political commentator Robert Reich. (photo: Vintage Books)
Economist, professor, author and political commentator Robert Reich. (photo: Vintage Books)

When Charity Begins at Home

By Robert Reich, Robert Reich's Blog

13 December 13


t's charity time, and not just because the holiday season reminds us to be charitable. As the tax year draws to a close, the charitable tax deduction beckons.

America's wealthy are its largest beneficiaries. According to the Congressional Budget Office, $33 billion of last year's $39 billion in total charitable deductions went to the richest 20 percent of Americans, of whom the richest 1 percent reaped the lion's share.

The generosity of the super-rich is sometimes proffered as evidence they're contributing as much to the nation's well-being as they did decades ago when they paid a much larger share of their earnings in taxes. Think again.

Undoubtedly, super-rich family foundations, such as the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, are doing a lot of good. Wealthy philanthropic giving is on the rise, paralleling the rise in super-rich giving that characterized the late nineteenth century, when magnates (some called them "robber barons") like Andrew Carnegie and John D. Rockefeller established philanthropic institutions that survive today.

But a large portion of the charitable deductions now claimed by America's wealthy are for donations to culture palaces - operas, art museums, symphonies, and theaters - where they spend their leisure time hobnobbing with other wealthy benefactors.

Another portion is for contributions to the elite prep schools and universities they once attended or want their children to attend. (Such institutions typically give preference in admissions, a kind of affirmative action, to applicants and "legacies" whose parents have been notably generous.)

Harvard, Yale, Princeton, and the rest of the Ivy League are worthy institutions, to be sure, but they're not known for educating large numbers of poor young people. (The University of California at Berkeley, where I teach, has more poor students eligible for Pell Grants than the entire Ivy League put together.) And they're less likely to graduate aspiring social workers and legal defense attorneys than aspiring investment bankers and corporate lawyers.

I'm all in favor of supporting fancy museums and elite schools, but face it: These aren't really charities as most people understand the term. They're often investments in the life-styles the wealthy already enjoy and want their children to have as well. Increasingly, being rich in America means not having to come across anyone who's not.

They're also investments in prestige - especially if they result in the family name engraved on a new wing of an art museum, symphony hall, or ivied dorm.

It's their business how they donate their money, of course. But not entirely. As with all tax deductions, the government has to match the charitable deduction with additional tax revenues or spending cuts; otherwise, the budget deficit widens.

In economic terms, a tax deduction is exactly the same as government spending. Which means the government will, in effect, hand out $40 billion this year for "charity" that's going largely to wealthy people who use much of it to enhance their lifestyles.

To put this in perspective, $40 billion is more than the federal government will spend this year on Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (what's left of welfare), school lunches for poor kids, and Head Start, put together.

Which raises the question of what the adjective "charitable" should mean. I can see why a taxpayer's contribution to, say, the Salvation Army should be eligible for a charitable tax deduction. But why, exactly, should a contribution to the Guggenheim Museum or to Harvard Business School?

A while ago, New York's Lincoln Center held a fund-raising gala supported by the charitable contributions of hedge fund industry leaders, some of whom take home $1 billion a year. I may be missing something but this doesn't strike me as charity, either. Poor New Yorkers rarely attend concerts at Lincoln Center.

What portion of charitable giving actually goes to the poor? The Washington Post's Dylan Matthews looked into this, and the best he could come up with was a 2005 analysis by Google and Indiana University's Center for Philanthropy showing that even under the most generous assumptions only about a third of "charitable" donations were targeted to helping the poor.

At a time in our nation's history when the number of poor Americans continues to rise, when government doesn't have the money to do what's needed, and when America's very rich are richer than ever, this doesn't seem right.

If Congress ever gets around to revising the tax code, it might consider limiting the charitable deduction to real charities.

Robert B. Reich, Chancellor's Professor of Public Policy at the University of California at Berkeley, was Secretary of Labor in the Clinton administration. Time Magazine named him one of the ten most effective cabinet secretaries of the last century. He has written thirteen books, including the best sellers "Aftershock" and "The Work of Nations." His latest is an e-book, "Beyond Outrage." He is also a founding editor of the American Prospect magazine and chairman of Common Cause. your social media marketing partner


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+71 # Billy Bob 2013-12-13 14:08
My cousin is taking care of her dad. She's the only other liberal I know of in my extended family. She has 3 other siblings. All are very conservative Republicans.


Her father has expenses, which are not covered by his Medicare and Social Security. They would be covered, if she chose to move him to a nursing home. In other words, she's preventing Medicaid from spending about $4,000 a month.

She's following conservative talking-points to the letter.

Conservatives say, "Government should not be helping individuals. That's the job of their families, churches and private charities."

To keep her father out of a nursing home, she's asking her rich Republican siblings to split the costs with her, for her father's uncovered expenses.

You can guess what their attitude is about this!

They give her crap about, "Why can't we just send him to a nursing home? Why are we spending all of this money? This is another one of your liberal causes and we shouldn't be paying for your causes like a tax. Let him go on Medicaid."


That, in a nutshell, is the core of all conservative ideology. It goes something like this:

+14 # Glen 2013-12-13 14:55
Having spent the last year with a dying mother and discussing every bit of this with social workers, indifferent family, other "caregivers" and home health nurses, I understand what your cousin is going through.

Charity does not begin in the home or family. It CAN begin in the community among decent organizations and friends. Those "conservatives" among the populace have dignity only in their minds.

On the flip side, it is astounding how many family members simply dump patients in a nursing home or hospital, essentially stating, "Do something with them, I can't handle it".

You are correct in the indifference of her conservative family members. BUT liberals can turn their backs on family members as well.
+17 # Vardoz 2013-12-13 17:20
I took care of my mother for years but I would have liked my tax dollars to go to services that would have helped us and didn't cost a fortune.
+12 # Glen 2013-12-14 06:18
As the U.S. experiences increasing numbers of the elderly, something will have to be done to help or there will be literally thousands dying in their living rooms or on the street with no care. I'm quite serious about this.

You are right, Vardoz, taxes actually could go to help citizens, but the government prefers war over citizen health. I learned A LOT over this last year concerning the system at large, as well as community efforts. Help is out there, but most of the time it is limited.
+9 # Billy Bob 2013-12-14 08:34
From what I can see, we're already nearing the tipping point. Individuals and their families are already being forced into decisions that dramatically shorten the length and lower the quality of their lives.

My cousin fits the stereotype, in that she also makes less income than her LESS generous siblings. The amount they all agreed to pay for the monthly bill is just the minimum needed. She is covering everything else out of her own pocket. I asked her what the family thought of that, and was told that they specifically do NOT want to know about it, because it literally makes them angry that she's making them feel guilty for having more resources but not bothering to do the right thing. The whole thing is disgusting.

In other words, if they make decisions that affect her father in that way, it WON'T be for a lack of resources. They CAN afford these things, it's just that her siblings are pissed off that the family is "taxing" them to do it. They'd RATHER shorten his life, if it meant saving a penny.

The irony about them being the stanch Republicans and adhering to Republican core philosophy (the libertarian ideal that only families should be responsible for taking care of people), while complaining that they aren't taking advantage of a "free" "big government" program, is the main point I'm making.

The DOUBLE-irony, is that it's not really ironic at all. It just illustrates the conservative core philosophy, stripped down to it's honest hull.

+11 # Billy Bob 2013-12-14 08:35

Your comment that liberals can be guilty of the same behavior, is I'm sure true. It's what I call "SITUATIONAL LIBERALISM" and "SITUATIONAL CONSERVATIVISM".

Even Dick Cheney is a "liberal" when it comes to gay rights. WHY? Because HIS DAUGHTER IS GAY.

Even Rush Limb-blow, and Glenn "cry me a TV show" Beck, are suddenly, and uncharacteristi cally "liberal" when it comes to drug enforcement policy. WHY? Because they've both been revealed as having serious drug problems.

People are selfish.

Conservativism is a philosophy that makes a mission of saying "selfishness is a good thing".

Liberalism has a core philosophy that we all need to take care of each other and that none of us can stand alone without the help of others (whether we choose to admit it or not).

Conservatives who act like this are showing their true colors and showing that their greed and selfishness are not due to any "principles" at all. It's just greed and selfishness - nothing more.

Liberals who act like this are simply being hypocrites. One resource that will never run dry is hypocrisy.
+6 # Glen 2013-12-14 09:09
Nicely written.

Perhaps we should simply say human beings, rather than conservative or liberal. As you say, there are many variations on a theme and the selfishness compounds as the immediate responsibilitie s increase, erasing social or political affiliation.

Just as many Christians do not know which bible they adhere to, or the origin, conservatives and liberals don't understand the underlying concepts and traditions. Government parties are highly varied, as well, but a lot of that is covered with stage show shenanigans.

Real life is tough for thousands of people. Over this last year I came to understand clearly the words, "you've gotta walk that lonesome valley by yourself".

And then found out my mother had left me out of the will!!! Wadda world.
+6 # Billy Bob 2013-12-14 11:58
Thank you.

Well, my cousin has no worries about a will. Her Dad is completely penniless and has completely "depleted his resources" (or as Medicaid calls it, "spent down"). There's nothing left to give anyone.

There is a huge difference between "conservative" and "liberal". If people claim to be one thing, but are inconsistent, that has more to do with them as individuals, than it does, with the definitions of those words. People aren't necessarily all one or the other. But, I think those personal inconsistencies show that they just haven't thought it through.
+4 # Glen 2013-12-14 15:07
It was not in good taste to mention being left out of the will. It was a comment on the unexpected and lack of compassion. The folks who never helped her were given everything. Is that not also a comment on indifference and attitude attributed to political and social affiliation. The main recipient is a libertarian.

Correct. Personal inconsistencies are exactly what I was referring to when declaring we might want to eliminate political social affiliation. Just as Dick Cheney picks and chooses his loyalties so does the average human being.
+3 # Billy Bob 2013-12-14 21:06
I didn't take it as being tasteless. I just thought you were pointing out even more irony. Maybe your mom thought the money didn't matter to you as much. Maybe not getting it was sort of a compliment. I'm not just fishing for explanations here. I know that's how some people think. Of course I don't know her.

Another possibility, is that you were around so much that you were just easy to stop worrying about. I'm not saying she "took you for granted". But, maybe she just didn't worry about you so much.

Anyway, I'm not trying to belittle your comment. You have every right to feel the way you do, and no need to self-correct about it not being "tasteful". This is like a secret society, where we can be honest with each other. That's why I often spill my guts about my own psycho family.

I AM a liberal, so I hate public moralizing and religiosity, but I'll make an exception from my rule, to tell you that I honestly think there is such a thing as a greater reward after death. Your mom has earned hers, and maybe, just maybe, your reward will be a lot bigger than, what was kept from you.

I know that sounds phony to a lot of people, but I have personal reasons that make me a serious believer, and I feel no sense of contradiction or inability to reconcile it with the fact that I am very scientifically minded.

I also don't happen to think you're required to believe it yourself. Either I'm right or I'm wrong. If I'm right, you have earned some, shall we say, "karmic points".
+4 # Glen 2013-12-15 06:29
An aspect of care giving that truly is bad karma is being the one person determining the fate of another. Simply making a call to ask for home health therapy, then receiving a new person in the home, will have an effect on the patient. It is always an unknown when making those changes, just as the patient entering a hospital for care.

It occurred to me over this last year that a great many people do not want that on their shoulders - in addition to refusing to perform personal care. Individuals may not recognize that they do not want to make those decisions for another. It could be instinctive. Even decent people eschew that responsibility, but will bathe the patient or similar.

Your beliefs are necessary and personal, and as you said to me about the will, no need to explain. You appear to be open to possibilities, which most folks are not. They are self-limiting so miss out on wonderful aspects of life.

Science enhances life and beliefs, as well. Existence on planet Earth is pretty amazing, but we are but a speck in the endless universe. Pretty humbling.
-56 # Penn 2013-12-13 17:13
You re lying. Why would you make up such a phony story?
+17 # Nominae 2013-12-13 17:45
Quoting Penn:
You re lying. Why would you make up such a phony story?

I'd like to applaud your current comment approval count of zero, zip, zilch, nada, nil.

Perhaps people are finally refusing to bite on your bait.
'Bout time. They apparently used to think that such astoundingly flat-footed thinking could be corrected by sharing the actual facts.

They are beginning to "get" the fact that someone attempting to divert the entire conversation is not the same as someone who could eventually benefit from having his/her eyes opened.

The beauty of your comment above is that it doesn't even make sense. I hope you are no more ill than usual. Holiday stress ?
+7 # Billy Bob 2013-12-13 20:32
Sorry. I bit.
+4 # zornorff 2013-12-15 09:53
I like your idea...if these knuckledragging toads were ignored they would probably go away and go back to Faux news or Rush or Beck or some other dungheap. Unfortunately, there is nothing to keep cretins from using computers.
+14 # Billy Bob 2013-12-13 20:32
You're right. Why WOULD I make up such a story?!? Especially, why would I make up the excrutiating details? I really don't have the time to "concoct" phony stories. The fact that you think it's phony, says an awful lot about your life experiences. Do you honestly think anyone would NEED to make shit like that up?!?

Do you know anybody? Seriously, you don't get out much, do you?

This is COMMON. I'm talking about my cousin, because that's what's happening in MY family. When I tell other people about it, I NEVER get, "that's phony". All I ever hear are OTHER PEOPLE'S OWN family versions of the exact same story.

This is COMMON.

I have plenty of selfish conservatives in my own family too. I don't need to "make it up".
+13 # Vardoz 2013-12-13 17:18
Yup and that is not how a society can function. It's not everyman for themselves- We all still have to pay taxes- even those who are pretty poor and those taxes go in part to the society as a whole- this is how all societies should function that are not a banana republics. You never know when your job may not be there and you too might need a safety net.
+15 # Billy Bob 2013-12-13 20:33
That's right. And, it's not like we don't already pay many times more than this costs in military/survei llance/industri al servitude fees.
+4 # Cassandra2012 2013-12-14 15:04
The 'Common Good'=== as denigrated by the tacky Karl Rove, Dick (Darth) Cheney, Grover Norquist and the despicable Koch bros. in crime.
+11 # tigerlille 2013-12-13 17:51
Your sounds likue a wonderful person.
Her siblings sound like abominations.
+14 # Billy Bob 2013-12-13 20:34
She's a normal person. Her siblings are typical conservatives.
+8 # Lorraine B. 2013-12-14 10:18
Great point. I might add, I also find it offensive that many of my legal colleagues devote their legal practice to helping (for a tidy fee of course) the well-to-do avoid paying for their elders long-term care. They call it estate planning... shifting assets into safe harbors precisely so the folks CAN go on taxpayer funded Medicare/Medica id, so the family jewels and cash can be retained by the heirs. Something wrong with this approach. I do not personally engage in such "lawful" but IMO immoral practice, but it is a growing field that also contributes to the values discussed above.
+4 # Billy Bob 2013-12-14 12:43
That was another perfect illustration of what I'm talking about. Your colleagues sound like perfect conservatives (whether they define themselves as such or not). The philosophy just seems to be, that anything which can justify selfishness will be defined as "prudent", or "wise", or even "moral" - whatever it takes to get around the guilt that would be associated with actually having a conscience.

Gordon Gekko (the fictitious character from the book/movie Wall Street), sounds like their messiah.
+14 # LeeBlack 2013-12-13 14:12
We're going back to the days of the "Lord of the Manor". Everyone depended on the 'charity' of the Lord. Now we hope that the wealthy will support public radio and TV, like David Koch and PBS; the arts; the homeless shelter; planned parenthood; Thanksgiving Dinner, Toys for Tots, etc.
+18 # wantrealdemocracy 2013-12-13 14:13
"If Congress ever gets arpimd tp revsomg tje tax code"....that will only happen after an uprising of the people of this nation. Congress is owned, body and soul, but the very rich people who benefit from the current tax code. They love Ronny Raygun who said, "Greed is good!" and who gave the rich the tax cut they so enjoy.

Nothing is going to change as long as you sit there and do not challenge our corrupt government. YOU have to get angry at what the rotten government is doing to you, your children and our mother the earth. YOU have to resist and rebell. The ball is in YOUR court.
+25 # Gordon Berry 2013-12-13 14:29
The modern words for "robber barons" are "crooks", "liars", "tax-cheats", "republicans"
+20 # reiverpacific 2013-12-13 14:36
As an Artist, Musician and former Architect -inseparable in my life, who has been enriched by association with other true creatives in many countries, I have seen the arts become an elitist lottery, losing value as a means of idea/conceptual -exchange, resistance, protest and activism with the price of attending a "Major" concert or theatrical production becoming way beyond the means of more and more people.
After all, the Koch Bro's claim philanthropy to the arts, as did the Carl Linder (Chiquita) dynasty when they were based in Cincinnatti -so that they can control and censor what is shown.
A bit like the cost of having a advertisement on the owner-media in fact, so that ads become the main point and not the content of the programming.
Many restaurants also.
I grew up being culturally educated by two aunts in the theater -not wealthy but a lot of fun and well-connected, so was able to attend major venues at an early age with little cost. Then I discovered jazz which was played in pretty humble dives and I got to hear, play and sit in with some pretty famous bands in the UK and here.
Now it's all becoming sucked into the rarified atmosphere of the self-appointed elite tastemakers, especially in the US as 'morphs into Plutocracy.
The good news; there is a flourishing of small local and regional theaters and performance venues -at least on the west coast and from what my daughter tell me, in Madison Wis' also.
So fuck 'em; you can't buy creativity and camaraderie!
+14 # Douglas Jack 2013-12-13 15:27
Robert Reich, Thanks for caring.
reiverpacific, "You can't buy creativity & camaraderie". When all of us are interdependent for the contributions of a 7 billion person economy, each are beholding to all. Hence that sense of the whole to which arts appeal is never achieved in the isolation of money, but only during our sharing.
Billy Bob, ""Why can't we just send him to a nursing home?". I have a diploma in special education so have witnessed many times the institutional isolation of 'clients'. 1st they are segregated from their families, friends & loved ones usually on the advice of a misinformed 'specialist' at a cost of 50,000$ - 250,000$ / year.
Most of our tens of millions of institutionaliz ed people see 5 shift changes per day or 1800 changes of the guard per year. There is no life context, few relationships of meaning & valorization of skills to create together, no continuity or intimate knowing within these systems be it for their personal reactions to medications, programs or people.
Few (5%) of our social scientist have had a detailed look or experience at cultural systems of caring & sharing, the formal structured economics of caring for life as family, friends, multihome-build ings, communities, cities, nations, continents & as a world.
using the same colonial patterns, which got us into this mess.
0 # Gnome de Pluehm 2013-12-13 15:12
" Increasingly, being rich in America means not having to come across anyone who's not."

I'm not sure this is so for the super-rich.
+3 # Billy Bob 2013-12-14 16:51
Read Penn's comment to me. It's obvious he doesn't have a clue what other people are dealing with. I know some of these rich people, and that fact definitely rings true for them. It's common for them to make little remarks about homeless people, or whatever, that illustrate the fact that they are so sheltered, they literally don't even understand what it's like to not be rich.
+25 # BWKnister 2013-12-13 15:15
Ben Franklin had it wrong: the last refuge of a scoundrel is not patriotism. It's philanthropy. Ask the Koch brothers. They lavish money on various charities of the kind Reich describes.
And: generosity can never be attributed to those whose gifts cost them nothing in real terms.
+21 # Vardoz 2013-12-13 15:48
The current budget that is being agreed up is an abomination. This nation has become a land where the parasitic wealthy are sucking the life blood out of the majority and the health of our economy and it has to stop! All those reps who voted to cut food stamps , unemployment insurance, plus not raise the minimum wage, or create jobs and cut vital life support services like, WIC, and head start should all be put in prison!!! THEY ARE THE ONES THAT ARE THEATENING OUR LIVES!!!!! People will die because of what they are doing!!!! Perhaps they don't know that poverty KILLS- Do you care? Us Americans should at the very least get off our butts and call your reps and give them a piece of your mind - unfortunately we are not like the people of the Ukraine or Egypt where people get out in the streets with courage and conviction to tell our reps this level of abuse won't fly! We are literally paying for our own abuse and demise. I asked when I called what is Home Land Security for? Because it is clearly not for the protection the American people whose lives are being threatened by our so called reps and corporations who control them and who don't care if people die - we are considered disposable trash by these MFkers- so should we roll over and play dead?
+13 # giraffee2012 2013-12-13 16:08
The GOP/TP want us dead. Charity is not in their vocabulary (apparently not even for a relative = ah, like their dad (??))

Dems cave also -- military $$ is #1 because there is "profit" there for the rich (like airplanes, armour, etc. and OIL). If we wanted to spread democracy or fight to keep our democracy, we would fight where there is danger to us (i.e. Japan is now a real threat - hiding their nuclear waste that's creeping into all water ways, etc)

And it will be cold day in hell before the rich (who buy our politicians, via citizens united law) will revise the tax ode or even look where the ultra rich hide their $$ to avoid taxes.

Don't know about anyone else but I cannot wait much longer for Scalia to vacate the U.S. Supreme court (one way or another) -- followed by the other RATS
+7 # Sweet Pea 2013-12-14 08:40
The only thing that many of the wealthy know about "charity" is that it is a deduction on their income tax.
+2 # Tom Atlee 2013-12-13 17:11
Charity means voluntarily helping the needy, usually the poor or disabled, and that's what you've focused on. Of course, tax deductible non-profit activity (501c3 nonprofits) cover a wider range of organizations. However, if we eliminate tax deductions for contributions to elite educational, artistic, and community institutions, how do we avoid eliminating the tax deductions for contributions to groups trying to change the systems that overly benefit the rich, systems that generate poverty, suffering, and ecological and communal destruction? I'd love to see specific proposals that would deal with this in a way that legislators and IRS officials could use and that activists could rally around. I, myself, wouldn't know how to do that successfully.
+12 # Billy Bob 2013-12-13 20:45
I would suggest a simple fix. We leave all of that alone, BUT, we raise the maximum income tax rate to at least 50%, and we tax ALL income, even if it wasn't earned from actually working (i.e. investment income, and inheritance).
+8 # Quickmatch 2013-12-13 21:54
Check this site out:
In it you can find, for a single example, that in 1932 the top tax bracket on individual income between $6,000 and 10,000
(which today would be $100,000 to $167,000) was 9%--yep, nine percent. And the top bracket for those incomes over $1,000,000 (inflated to today: over $16.7 million) was 63%. It was the Depression and 25% of the workers were out of work and a good living income for those dark days was under $4,000. The rich were asked to step up and pay for their priveleged poosition in society.
+2 # Sweet Pea 2013-12-14 15:55
This is a fantasy that I'd love to see. Unfortunately-I was also hoping that Santa would stick a few hundred dollar bills in the stockings of all the people living in poverty this Christmas Eve.
+1 # Billy Bob 2013-12-14 16:54
In addition to "The Christmas Carol" (especially the beautifully animated, but rare, version with Allister Simm), I have my kids watch the Reader's Digest version of "The Happy Prince" (from the Hans Christian Anderson story). That's pretty much what that one is about, and it's really beautiful too.
0 # Douglas Jack 2013-12-16 12:17
Tom, Left & right ignore a number of ecological (relationship) factors in the equation of human inter-dependenc e & charity's good & bad sides. We must Valorize personal strengths in both short term emergency interventions & chronic-care. As an industrial 1st Aid technician & Special-Educato r, during crisis intervening, my 1st assessment starts with the person's vital signs & surrounding factors. Chronic care valorization of individual capacities to give, interact, & receive is essential not only to community but as well in care & well-being of any person.

Individuals & institutions must act 'culturally' (whole person, whole community drawing on strengths) rather than 'institutionall y' (Latin 'instituere' = 'to make stand' or 'impose'). Institutes target weakness typically unable to interact holistically. Western institutional 'charity' feeds off 3rd world nation trade-exploitat ion control. Culturally, we've huge untapped resources as individuals, families, multihome buildings, cities & states.

Humanity's worldwide 'indigenous' (L 'self-generatin g') ancestors matured over 100s of 1000s of years built primary institutions around the 100 person (32 households) critical-mass & proximity of the 'multihome' dwelling complex in Longhouse/ apartment, Pueblo/townhous e & Kanata/village.
-33 # Penn 2013-12-13 17:12
When was the last time the Imp walk on the street or took public transportation? Typical liberal garbage spewing class warfare.

Here is a hint for you parasites: I DO NOT OWE YOU ANYTHING, and YOU HAVE NO RIGHT TO WHAT I HAVE. If you don't have it, you didn't earn it. Stop blaming successful people for your failure.
+16 # Nominae 2013-12-13 18:01
Quoting Penn:
When was the last time the Imp walk on the street or took public transportation? Typical liberal garbage spewing class warfare.

Here is a hint for you parasites: I DO NOT OWE YOU ANYTHING, and YOU HAVE NO RIGHT TO WHAT I HAVE. If you don't have it, you didn't earn it. Stop blaming successful people for your failure.

Buddy ! I have decided that you are already on vacation, and that your computer is generating template boilerplate while you enjoy a hot toddy.

You have run your fact-free "hint" on this comment queue many times before, and the absolutely nonsensical intro sentence is ....... what can one say .... just *SUCH* vintage "Penn".

And again, at least so far, *no one* has made any attempt to "strike at the bait", plus or minus. Ignoring B.S. soon becomes a natural adult reaction.

If the above comment was written by *my* troll, I would fire the writer the day-before-yest erday.

But then, I would only pay for quality, not quantity.
I'm "Old School" that way.
+13 # ericlipps 2013-12-13 18:37
Quoting Penn:
When was the last time the Imp walk on the street or took public transportation? Typical liberal garbage spewing class warfare.

Here is a hint for you parasites: I DO NOT OWE YOU ANYTHING, and YOU HAVE NO RIGHT TO WHAT I HAVE. If you don't have it, you didn't earn it. Stop blaming successful people for your failure.

Right out of Ayn Rand.

I suppose, then, that nobody owes you anything either, so if your house is burning down your neighbors needn't lift a finger to help, even to call the fire department--nev er mind help you and your family out when you're out in the street with just the clothes on your backs.
+9 # Billy Bob 2013-12-13 20:42
Are there no prisons? Are there no workhouses?
+9 # tabonsell 2013-12-13 19:33
In my case, I dumped the rat race when I was still young and adorable to live the casual life on income pouring in from my investments. So it seems I have much more than you ever will have, but I side with the intelligent people who see through your hatred and mental/emotiona l sickness.

It says right up front in the United States Constitution that government has the power to tax (what you have) to provide for the general welfare of the nation (what you owe to your fellow Americans).

I suppose you also call your self a Christians even though you spout Antichrist garbage.
+13 # Billy Bob 2013-12-13 20:40
My uncle (who you think I'm making up), worked his ass off his entire life, saved his money, put money into a 401-K. Got sick, depleted his resources taking care of it, got too old to take care of himself...

And people with the exact attitude as yours would rather pretend he just doesn't exist, or blame him for living past 75, than actually lift a finger to help.

The irony is that my cousin is trying to save YOU money, by keeping him off of Medicaid, but her siblings don't want to chip in. Apparently, they feel the same way you do, and would rather charge YOU more because of it.
+5 # Michael Lee Bugg 2013-12-14 18:01
Penn: Class warfare began when "civilization" began. Class warfare began here shortly after the Mayflower landed and the rich have won most of the time. The insatiably greedy have used every trick imaginable to cheat their workers and their customers. For a time unions were able to end slavery and level the playing field by fighting for higher wages and benefits, and by electing representatives who imposed a far more progressive tax code than we now have. But now the unions have been beaten down by the super greedy and their handmaiden Congressmen and stupid state legislatures. Add to this the betrayal of "free trade" which allows the super greedy, like the Walton family, to cut American workers and import cheaper, poorly made products that must be replaced more often and therefore are NOT cheaper! You are right, you don't "owe" us anything, but then we don't owe you any consideration either. Keep on with your current attitude and you and your kind could find yourselves on the receiving end of a full fledged revolt like the Czars of Russia experienced in 1918! Enjoy your smug sense of entitlement while you can because the American people will wake up some day and make you really think "class warfare." The 98% do outnumber you in the 2% I guess you understand. You and your kind LOVE high unemployment because it gives you the advantage in the class warfare you are waging.
0 # Douglas Jack 2013-12-15 17:01
Michael, You're right. Before civilization was 'indigenous' (Latin 'self-generatin g') 'sylvalization' (Latin 'sylva' = 'tree') in which humans as primates were stewards of worldwide 3-dimensional Polyculture Orchards nurturing a food, materials, energy & water-cycle capacity which is 100 times (10,000%) more productive than 2-D 'agriculture' (Latin 'ager' = 'field'). 7000 years ago starts civilization with the cutting of Babylon's abundantly productive polyculture orchards for agriculture, the crops fail, irrigation salts the earth, 1000s of species of animals & plants die. Polyculture photosynthesis at 92 - 98% attracts warm moist ocean winds inland where 60% of water transfer is through condensation on leaf surfaces. Only 40% falls as rain or snow. Agriculture only photosynthesize s 2 - 8% of solar energy reflecting over 90% of solar energy pushing wind from continent to sea creating permanent deserts.

In scarcity Babylon became violently hierarchal, abusing its neighbours. Babylon invaded the lush Arabian Semite speaking peninsula, Palestine & Turkey spreading the disease of violence to the earth & people. Semites invade Greece & North-Africa, Greece invades Rome & all invade Europe to destroy land, rivers, food production capacities. Europe joins the 'exogene' (L 'other-generate d' nations to bring hell & thievery to Americas & then rest of the world.
+3 # T4D 2013-12-13 23:43
Long, long ago the Roman Senate had an excellent remedy for securing ample revenue, and controlling excessive wealth. It was called proscription. When the Senate ordered a citizen proscribed that person was no longer a citizen, and all his property could be seized and sold. His family could be seized and sold as slaves. The proscribed person had the choice of death or deportation. Cicero chose deportation, but the Senate ordered him killed, his oratory was dangerous to state security.
+2 # Wyntergreen 2013-12-14 12:25
I would just like to point out that a lot of people who work for these supposedly "elite" arts organizations are struggling artists and others who have to scramble for whatever they can to make ends meet. Whereas I may detest the Koch brothers, for instance, for their cynical (and some might say evil) political machinations, I do grudgingly appreciate that at least they give a portion of their obscene profits to cultural institutions. Even the grandest opera or symphony has plenty of people depending on those organizations to continue functioning well to support their meagre livelihoods - from car park attendants to performers. Until we have decent PUBLIC support for the Arts, patronage of the rich will have to do in some measure. Sad to say.
+2 # Cassandra2012 2013-12-14 15:12
The operative word, however is "depending" -- which means when the Koch 'benificence' is threatened to be withdrawn, the manipulation of what is ok or not ok begins. (Actually began --- since a documentary on them was NOT allowed to air already.)

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