SOCIAL SCIENCES

Just Giving: Why Philanthropy Is Failing Democracy and How It Can Do Better

Princeton Univ. Nov. 2018. 256p. ISBN 9780691183497. $27.95; ebk. ISBN 9780691184395. POL SCI
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Reich (political science, Stanford Univ.) asks what the relationship between the state and philanthropy in a democratic society should be, and urges the development of a political and moral philosophy of philanthropy. After examining ancient philanthropic models and the attitudes of several philosophers regarding their foundations, Reich scrutinizes contemporary practices and the redistributive record of private, perpetual, tax-exempt charitable organizations. He criticizes knee-jerk praise of charitable giving and questions whether current tax exemptions for powerful nonprofits and their wealthier donors that don't necessarily benefit those in need are just and equitable or actually contrary to democratic principles. He encourages a discussion of the role of philanthropy in a liberal society and how to redirect legislation by encouraging peer regulation or investment in long-term projects that benefit future generations. Some of the material here was published previously in journal articles and book chapters, but Reich reworks the information to appeal to nonscholars, hoping they will put more thought into theories of philanthropy.
VERDICT Recommended for philanthropists, nonprofit leaders, policymakers, and anyone interested in political science, economics, and philosophy.

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