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How to Cover the One Percent

Source: NY Review of Books

As the concentration of wealth in America has grown, so has the scale of philanthropy. Today, that activity is one of the principal ways in which the superrich not only “give back” but also exert influence, yet it has not received the attention it deserves. As I have previously tried to show, digital technology offers journalists new ways to cover the world of money and power in America,1 and that’s especially true when it comes to philanthropy.

Over the last fifteen years, the number of foundations with a billion dollars or more in assets has doubled, to more than eighty. A significant portion of that money goes to such traditional causes as universities, museums, hospitals, and local charities. Needless to say, such munificence does much good. The philanthropic sector in the United States is far more dynamic than it is in, say, Europe, due in part to the tax deductions allowed under US law for charitable giving. Unlike in Europe, where cultural institutions depend largely on state support, here they rely mainly on private donors. read more