Philanthropists should be celebrated; 89 percent of American households contribute to charity, according to the National Philanthropic Trust (NPT). That’s a good thing.
America’s fascination with the uber-rich makes much of their life media events, including their charitable donations.
So when Oprah Winfrey announced she opened a $40-million school for girls in South Africa, headlines were abound.
Not surprising, it was met with some criticism from some Americans who would have liked to see the gift in our backyards.
My response: Lashing out at Oprah is merely a symptom of the frustration many working-class families feel about the growing divide between the rich and poor. In case you haven’t noticed, the rich are getting very rich.
Record bonuses were awarded this year for top Wall Street brokers, yet media pundits have yet to hold their feet to the fire about where their philanthropic efforts might go.
Star athletes receive food stipends during away games, as if they can’t squeeze lunch money out of their $100-million contracts. High-paid executives, movie stars, athletes and trust-fund babies can insulate their families from work for centuries, but what should they owe the society that allowed them to amass their fortunes?
Granted, there are many generous givers in this stratosphere. Still, there are many Americans with enough disposable income to fix America’s ills. Unfortunately for Oprah, we single out those who give the most because we disagree with their motives and agendas. We’re jealous of their gifts, even if it’s to some of the world’s poorest children who are stricken with the fallout from decades of inequitable social policies.
Oprah doesn’t deserve one disparaging word until we as a society ask ourselves: How much money is enough? What is the role for the super-rich for the betterment of all men?
I know many are doing their part. But for the first time in American history, the richest 100 people in the country are all billionaires. Their combined wealth rivals the gross domestic product of all but the 50 most prosperous countries of the world. Seriously, let that sink in.
Andrew Carnegie furnished our country with libraries. What will the legacy of today’s super-rich be? What should it be?
— David Frabotta, Senior Editor