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Rich People Can Be A Problem

Those ridiculously rich people keep all the money to themselves, right? And worse, they control politicians, right?
Did you know?
John D. Rockefeller, Sr., besides creating Standard Oil, the largest company in the world for many years gave over $500 million to charities and was a huge early donor to Spelman College in Atlanta, which is actually named after his wife? Did you know that he contributed hundreds of millions to create the University of Chicago? That he spent millions of dollars on the Appalachia and Deep South to bring literacy to those areas?
Did you know that his son, John D. Rockefeller, Jr., donated millions of dollars and tens of thousands of acres of land to help create the national parks of Yellowstone, Acadia, Great Smoky Mountains, Yosemite, Shenandoah and the Grand Tetons? Did you know that he gave 2/3 of his wealth to philanthropy?
Did you know that Andrew Carnegie built over 2,500 libraries for communities around the world? That 1,689 of them were right here in America in small towns all over the country?
yellowstoneWere the Rockefeller’s and Carnegie’s Republican? Who cares? They were rich and the country benefitted from their philanthropy, as well as from the economy that they helped spur.
We tend to demonize the rich, always have. There are countless Biblical references to the plight of the rich: James 5:1 “Come now, you rich, weep and howl for the miseries that are coming upon you.”
We really despise them when they support the other side. George Soros has donated hundreds of millions to liberal causes, but his various funds own substantial stakes in companies that make a very good living for many employees. Joe Lewis owns Progressive Insurance and has donated tens of millions to leftist causes, but his insurance has employed thousands and saved a lot of people money I assume. Rich Democrats. Then you have the Koch Brothers and Sheldon Adelson. Rich Republicans. Yet I venture to say that most of you have heard far more about how bad the Koch Brothers and Adelson are for the American political process than George Soros and Joe Lewis.
Here’s a novel concept, sure to bring about howls from many. Let rich people donate as much money as they want to their causes. Heck, let the poor people donate as much money as they want too. If we did away with the arcane limits on political contributions and let people donate what they want, with 100% disclosure within 24 hours on web, we’d stop all this PAC nonsense. Sure, you’d still have PACs for the smaller guys to pool their money to make an impact, but you’d pull the big money out of “anonymous” PACs and have full disclosure, for no other reason than the rich guys would want to control how their money is spent.
And why shouldn’t they? Yellowstone is gorgeous. Thank you Mr. Rockefeller.
Kelly Burke, master attorney, former district attorney and magistrate judge, is engaged in private practice. He focuses on personal injury cases and corporate litigation. These articles are not designed to give legal advice, but are designed to inform the public about how the law affects their daily lives. Contact Kelly atkelly@burkelasseterllc.com to comment on this article or suggest articles about the law that you’d like to see.

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