A Debate: Joanne Barkan vs. The New Yorker: Should Billionaires Control Public Policy?

Diane Ravitch's blog

Joanne Barkan has written powerful articles in Dissent about the power wielded by billionaires to control and direct public education. (See here.)

Now she has written an article in The Guardian about the Zuckerbergs’ pledge to place 99% of their Facebook stock (value: about $45-46 billion) in a limited liability corporation, which they will use to influence public policy. Her article has the title “Wealthy Philanthropists Should Not Impose Their Idea of the Common Good on Us.”

She writes:

There’s a strong argument to be made that the private tax-exempt foundation doesn’t fit well in a functioning democracy. As the eminent US jurist Richard Posner wrote: “A perpetual charitable foundation, however, is a completely irresponsible institution, answerable to nobody. It competes neither in capital markets nor in product markets … and, unlike a hereditary monarch whom such a foundation otherwise resembles, it is subject to no political controls…

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