Billionaires giving half their fortune to charity … They have devoted almost all their time and energy to building up fortunes worth billions. And now they are going to give most of it away. … Star Wars director George Lucas, New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg and Hilton hotels owner Barron Hilton are among those who will provide an estimated £250bn. Others pledging fortunes include media mogul Ted Turner, fashion director Diane Von Furstenberg, David Rockefeller, the heir to the Rockefeller fortune, and construction billionaire Eli Broad. The unprecedented commitment was brokered by Microsoft founder Bill Gates and investor Warren Buffett (pictured together left) over a series of intimate dinners. They set up The Giving Pledge, which asks billionaires to make a 'moral commitment' to give away at least 50% of their wealth to charity either during their lifetime or after their death. So far 40 have signed up. – UK / ThisIsMoney
Dominant Social Theme: The most admirable thing ever.
Free-Market Analysis: We've watched this story unfold and are quite taken by its admirable qualities. There is something amazing about watching so many important people come together to give so much money to worthy causes. That this cavalcade of generosity would be led by such luminaries as Bill Gates and Warren Buffet only adds to its impressiveness. These individuals could be out golfing instead of extracting billions from their friends and acquaintances for charity.
Obviously there is a dominant social theme at work here. We would venture to say that it is along these lines: "Not only are Western (especially Anglo-American) billionaires among the smartest that you will find, they are also among the most generous and caring." In this article, then, we will reflect on this giving and probe its causes. Of course, perhaps there is nothing more to this Giving Pledge than a belated realization that those with great blessings ought to give back proportionately. Sometimes, to paraphrase Gertrude Stein, a rose is just a rose.
So let us proceed then with the understanding that sometimes generosity is "just generosity." And certainly acts of generosity, without doubt, are being formulated within the parameters of this program. But being instrument of power-elite analysis, we need to ask WHY? As in "why now?" Why have powerful billionaires (at the behest of the power elite itself?) gotten together in 2010 to announce to the world that they are giving their money away? Why didn't they decide to do so in 2008, or 1998 for that matter? Has something changed? Are their forces at work (a generosity bug?) today that were not present a year ago, or ten years ago? And if there is a reason, what is it telling us about the society's larger trends?
We would argue, in fact, that there is a reason. As dedicated meme watchers, we have seen the power elite (and we don't necessarily include all generous billionaires among them) try to grapple with the reality that the financial system itself is radically tilted toward institutional gestures. When the financial crisis became severe in 2008, it was the big banks and securities firms that for the most got bailed out. Homeowners and others, especially in America, grappled with their burgeoning debts without the help of money printing.
While this is perhaps to be expected, as we have pointed out before, the spectacle of large institutions being laved with funds while the "little people" were left parched and hopeless, was at root immoral. In one poisonous fortnight, the reality of the financial system struck home to people in a way that it never had before. A very skilled meme watcher (as we have related before) brought this point home to us, sending us what we consider to be a seminal feedback on this issue. What he was basically saying was that the Internet had provided a window wherein people could see as they never had before how the system really worked.
In one instant, the reality of the system became crystal clear. The money that the elite was disbursing may have stabilized the financial system, but why was that money only flowing in one direction, people suddenly began to wonder. Not only that, but we must believe that many, probably for the first time, began to realize however foggily that the money that was given away was being "manufactured" – that it was being printed out of nothing and directed toward targets self-selected by those doing the printing. We wrote an article about it ourselves entitled, "Have the immoral actions of central bankers precipitated the decline of the West." Here is some of what we wrote:
And so it begins. You have seen the essential immorality of the system. You have felt it deep in the gut, just the way they did once they began to read Bibles (courtesy of the Gutenberg press) 500 years ago and began realizing that the Roman Catholic Church was profoundly immoral – that its entire ethic (you can buy your way into heaven) was built on a kind of lie. Just as society is today. Yes, he's right. This financial crisis and the "outside the box thinking" (President Obama's term) of Ben Bernanke and others has not just doomed the elite's dominant social themes, it has probably doomed the freakin' CIVILIZATION.
Even stranger, Bernanke and the rest have not yet likely realized this. They are too busy patting themselves on the back. Do Bernanke et al. really believe that the average joe is awestruck and thankful for their chicanery. No, the average joe has suddenly realized that he lives in a society where a few people control trillions while he controls thousands. This is not just going to lead to a breakdown of society, over time it is going to lead to a meltdown of western civ.
Click here to read more: Have the Immoral Actions of Central bankers Precipitated the Decline of the West?
Do we need to belabor the point? This Giving Pledge from our point of view may constitute a direct counter-attack by the powers-that-be on the perception of unfairness that was made manifest by the egregious central banking bailouts of institutional cronies during the depths of the financial crisis. The Federal Reserve in particular, which created tidal waves of cash at the time, has fought very hard to withhold information about just who funds went to and the amounts that were sent.
We do believe the powers-that-be attempt to control public opinion (and thus the public) through various promotions, most of them fear-based. In this case the promotion is not fear-based and has something of a rushed quality about it. The cause-and-effect in our humble opinion is obvious however. Whether it will have the requisite impact is another question. We tend to doubt it.
It is important to note however, because it does tend to show (if one accepts our interpretation) that those at the top of the heap are getting the message about how things are being perceived by the plebes down below. The trouble is that people, if they have already made up their minds, are not apt to be swayed by such a spectacle. The damage has already been done and we would argue that dramatic Acts such as these may have actually do more harm than good, given that people are already cynical about the system.
Of course, being cynical ourselves, we don't believe for instant that all this charity will in some sense ease the plight of those who are injured financially or otherwise. For one thing, the massive charities and foundations of the West today are run by the same power elite that runs the financial system and has orchestrated the current problems of Western economic society. Secondly, the program smacks of a kind of hold-up.
Yes, we visualize it as a sort of elegant blackmail in which a billionaire who has somehow resisted becoming part of the elite's one-world promotion, gets a perfumed letter asking that half of his or her wealth be directed to a "worthy" cause. These worthy causes, being organized by the elite, will likely only further benefit the ultimate goal of further promoting and strengthening Western-style regulatory democracy to the detriment of those who want to live their lives without high taxes, high inflation and endless regulatory encumbrances.
The Giving Pledge is a very clever promotion from our point of view, and illustrates the elite's penchant for never letting a crisis go to waste. It may, however, prove "too clever by half" as the saying goes. Its ultimate importance may have more to do with its rushed nature and the insight it offers us into the current mindset of the very wealthy and the measures they are willing to take to take to shore up their aggregate public personas.