A Defense of Political Philanthropy

February 26, 2011 at 6:41 PM Leave a comment

In the battle in Wisconsin over budgets and public employee unions, opponents of Republican Gov. Scott Walker have started to focus on billionaire brothers Charles and David Koch, libertarian philanthropists. In the Washington Examiner, the Center for Competitive Politics‘s Sean Parnell argues against claims that their contributions are used to “Astroturf” over true grassroots efforts:

One of the central complaints about the Koch brothers’ giving is that their funding will “drown out” the voices of “average citizens” and turn government into a plaything of the rich. By contributing generously to advance their views, opponents of the Koch’s support for free market and limited government causes claim, the brothers are unfairly shaping America’s political and public policy debate.

But a quick review of the last 100 years in America shows that rather than “drowning out” the views and voices of non-wealthy Americans, support from the wealthy actually gives a voice to those who would otherwise be silenced.

The author’s examples of this phenomenon include the NAACP (initially dependent on a few wealthy supporters such as John D. Rockefeller), the ACLU (half of whose funding came from a single donor in their early years), and the different left-leaning groups like the Center for American Progress funded by George Soros.


Entry filed under: General.

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News about philanthropy and the charitable instinct


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