Feeling Patronized? Chicago’s Public Institutions and the Very Rich

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April  18, 2011; Source: Chicago | In this blog emanating from a city known, from time to time, for its patronage, Whet Moser worries about the increasing control that the very rich are exerting over public institutions in Chicago. Moser said that at the same time we are concerned about the corporate financing of politics, we maybe should also be more concerned than we are about the growing influence of “well-funded nonprofits” over public institutions.  Moser then goes into great detail on the connections he is worried about which are between corporate, political and nonprofit players in that city.

This is, of course, nothing new. There is a similar hidden or not so hidden power structure at work in most cities but Moser’s concern resonates. “While there’s a natural disinclination to look a gift horse in the mouth . . . the increasing reliance of public institutions on private generosity comes at an awkward time: one of increasing disparity between the very rich and everyone else.” He goes on to say, “public institutions are inevitably collective, and to have them be reliant on the attention of the very rich, even with the best of intentions, feels a bit . . . well, I guess it’s what being a charity case feels like.”—Ruth McCambridge