The inefficiency of capitalist philanthropy
Letter to the Editor | Wednesday, September 6, 2017
Capitalist philanthropy can be best described by the idea that what is lost through exploitation can be remedied by collecting excess funds from those who orchestrated the exploitation in the first place. For example, much of the surplus value extracted from workers in third world countries will go into the hands of the investors of multinational conglomerates; exploiting the resources and cheap labor of those countries while moving financial capital back to the first world.
The CEO of one such company then publicly declares that a fraction of the shareholders’ wealth will go towards helping impoverished communities in another country. In doing so, they have effectively martyred themselves in the eyes of the capitalist-owned media. The company then enjoys a tax deduction for their sacrifice and a bipartisan boot-licking, even if the “donation” works in their favor, such as an improved transportation system that will double as a means of lowering factor costs.
This inefficient exchange is not limited to companies, and exists within governments, universities and porn websites. In each case, the humanitarian tasks carried out for an oppressed people are contingent on the return of investments which led to, or perpetuated, the oppression in the first place. The U.S. in the last century has toppled entire governments in order to appoint leaders who are subservient to their foreign investments, and yet, is simultaneously regarded a generous god, donating to some of these same countries what amounts to pocket change for the global center.
Even worse, this foreign “aid” acts as a mechanism to inhibit those countries from developing infrastructure and an economy which would allow them to be economically independent from the first world. One example of this is the issuing of loans to developing countries with the condition of “structural adjustment.” This ensures that the target country reforms its political and economic policies (typically involving the destruction of social programs, privatization, restricted labor rights, etc.) in order to provide an attractive business environment for banks and other corporations in the first world.
Overwhelmingly, the transfer of wealth is from the third world to the first world.
The views expressed in this Letter to the Editor are those of the author and not necessarily those of The Observer.