(Mark Zuckerberg/Facebook)

< Go to Homepage

The Unintended Consequences of Billionaire Philanthropy

Rich donors like Mark Zuckerberg may be prolonging the problems they seek to solve.

In February 2017, Mark Zuckerberg made headlines for something other than Facebook: his charitable donations. The Chan Zuckerberg Initative, founded by the tech billionaire and his wife, Priscilla Chan, gave out $3 million in grants to aid the housing crisis in the Silicon Valley area. For years, the Initiative has committed billions of dollars to philanthropic projects designed to address social problems, with a special focus on solutions driven by science, medical research, and education.

But ironically, the boom in the tech industry in Silicon Valley, a boom in no small part due to Facebook, has been a major contributor to the housing crisis in San Francisco. It is a city with massive income inequality, and has the reputation of the most expensive housing in the U.S.

Zuckerberg is not the only billionaire to promise and initiate large-scale donations of wealth to whatever cause they think is best. The Giving Pledge, a philanthropy campaign initiated by Warren Buffett and Bill Gates, targets billionaires around the world and encourages them to give away the majority of their wealth. There are about 175 people on the list, including Richard and Joan Branson, Michael Bloomberg, Barron Hilton and David Rockefeller.

But some people don’t see this charity as a good thing. Human geographers Iain Hay and Samantha Muller say that since the late 1990s, donations like Zuckerberg’s have been “diverting attention and resources away from the failings of contemporary manifestations of capitalism,” and may in fact be serving as a substitute for public spending withdrawn by the state, writes The Guardian. 

Read the full story at The Guardian