Nonprofit Newswire | Displacing the State? Billionaire Pledge Criticized

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August 10, 2010; Source: Spiegel | This interesting interview with Peter Kramer, a German billionaire who objects to the Buffet/Gates challenge, puts forward an alternative and somewhat unflattering view of that effort, claiming that it runs counter to the democratically legitimate state. NPQ has raised this issue in previous Newswires—some have voiced concern that the infusion of massive amounts of money into government systems may result in undue influence being exerted by those with enormous wealth. Says Kramer, “It is all just a bad transfer of power from the state to billionaires. So it’s not the state that determines what is good for the people, but rather the rich want to decide. That’s a development that I find really bad. What legitimacy do these people have to decide where massive sums of money will flow?”—Ruth McCambridge

  • Tom Grinley

    I understand the concerns but the argument is also based on three mistaken assumptions:
    1. The “state” somehow has more legitimacy than individuals,
    2) The “state” does not exert undue influence, and
    3) The “state” shoudl determien what is best for people

  • Tim Unnerstall

    What legitimacy do the poor have to decide where small sums of money will flow? Answer: it’s their money. But what about the money the poor directs through government proxy, wealth they’ve done nothing to create? What legitimacy do they have to do that? In this country the wealthy have the right to dump it all in the ocean. How can anyone possibly think they should not have the right to do whatever legal thing they want to with their money? How can a transfer of power from people who wound up as bureaucrats because they couldn’t hack it in the competitive world to people who actually mastered the art of creating a higher standard of living be a bad thing?