Just trust the billionaire! A response to “5 criticisms of billionaire mega-philanthropy, debunked”

I too initially thought the criticisms of Mark Zuckerberg’s new philanthropic foundation were in bad taste. Perhaps a little bit of sour grapes. Overly cynical.

Picture of Mark Zuckerberg, Priscilla Chan and their baby daughter Max Zuckerberg

But then I took the time to read some of the criticisms and realised that they had some really good points. So I was interested to see Quartz’s ‘Debunking’ of those criticisms.

I was, unfortunately, disappointed.

Here is my paraphrased summary of their “debunking”:

Mark rightfully wants to have the biggest impact possible with his philanthropy. Therefore he is right to found his own corporation so that he can avoid paying taxes on his capital gains, and retain control of everything. Who are we to question him? And besides, you’re just jealous.

My natural inclination is actually to give the benefit of the doubt to Mark. I do believe he has good intentions. But that doesn’t make the criticisms of his move any less valid.

In a move advertised to “make the world a better place”, his first step is to avoid paying a fair amount of tax on his massive profits. That really does not inspire a lot of confidence.

Everyone not in the Billionaire class seems to be stuck paying all of their tax bill every year – but for the mega wealthy, they are special. They get to make all of their money, and keep it to!

Oh I know, he doesn’t actually get to “keep it”. It goes into the LLC.

….which he controls.

Just stop and think about this for a moment. What does a multi-billionaire do with the extra billions he has in his bank account anyway? He certainly doesn’t need it for ‘cost of living’ expenses.

Once you get past the first billion or two, everything else is just waiting to be allocated to things you think are worthwhile. Like putting it into chosen charities, or investing it into startups and companies you think will make a difference, or potentially using it for political campaigning. ie: Exactly what Mark’s LLC will be free to do.

So the reality here is perfectly clear. Mark has simply arranged things so that he can move all of his capital gains out of the company, into his control (not ownership), without paying any tax on it. It’s brilliant. He, and his family, get everything, in perpetuity, without ever paying any tax on it. Not even estate taxes!

This means his entire lineage will be in the control of many billions of dollars of wealth without ever needing to worry about earning anything. Not that they get to spend it on their own cost of living – it isn’t *their* money. Sure. But they can definitely choose to hire themselves if they need a job…

Better still, when you control vast quantities of capital (which can be invested into companies and political campaigns), it is amazing how many other wealthy people (but not nearly as wealthy as your LLC) are willing to go out of their way to wine and dine you in the most extravagant ways possible in order to secure your support.

Being in control of a lot of money has many significant benefits which go along with it.

So basically, this is a great way to lock in your profits without paying capital gains tax, and also guarantee that your dynasty remains for many generations to come, never needing to pay estate tax either.

A great big F you to the government. And a call to the population to “Praise me!”

In my opinion, the criticisms against Mark and his “Philanthropy” stand. Nothing has been debunked.

Now we have no choice but to let him carry out his business as he sees fit. Hopefully he will actually live up to the ideals he has set forth for himself. Hopefully he will actually make a difference. Hopefully he will make the world a significantly better place.

You’re in charge now Mark.

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Web Social Phenomenons

I have just been getting myself aquianted with a couple of recent web phenomenons. Fiverr isn’t exactly new, but it is still a very current trend which I definitely think deserve classifying within the realm of ‘most recent’ internet trends. In case you don’t know what Fiverr.com is, it is all about ‘what would you do for a fiver?’ Basically, it is a giant list of ‘services’ of sorts being offered for the price of $5. And of course, you can request services for $5 too, if you can’t find exactly what you are looking for.

I think I like this website and trend. Superficially it seems to offer a LOT of really useful services for very cheap. And if you can use any of those services, then they are all bargains. I have taken a few deals out already, but am still waiting for delivery of them all, so I will have to report in again on what I thought of those services. I hope to continue exploring and finding really good services through fiverr for a while to come.

The second phenomenon I have found, thanks to Fiverr, is called Twiends. Now this one I am far less sure about. In fact, I am pretty sure it highlights exactly my biggest complaint and annoyance with the overall social phenomenon scene created by Facebook and Twitter et al. That you end up with giant crowds of people – who don’t really care…

I guess I will have to explain this – How Twiends works, is basically you follow people on twitter, or like pages on facebook and in return you get ‘seeds’. These seeds then allow you to ‘pay’ other people to follow your twitter account and like your facebook page. Pretty simple, apparently completely within T&C of both organisations (since they aren’t actually being ‘bought’ or ‘sold’) but completely pointless too…? I mean, what is the point of getting people to follow you who are only following you so they can get more people to follow them… Surely the people who have blindly followed you have blindly followed many other people too? So how are your tweets and updates even going to get through the noise of all of their other follows and likes???

The analogy which comes to mind is of these social networks being like a large party, where there might be 1000 people, but everyone self-organises in to smaller social circles where they can have discussions with one another. You can’t talk to everyone, but at least the 5-10 people in your circle can hear you. But with Twiends, it feels like we are trying to turn that party in to a rave where everyone is free to talk, but it is so noisy, no one can hear anyone at all. You might accidentally hear what the raver next to you says, but it is by accident more than design.

What is the point of all of it all anyway?


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