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What do you think primarily motivates charitable gestures by the very rich?

1) Generosity: people who are not really aware of income inequality and genuinely feel they are doing good by being charitable.

2) Cynicism: people who are aware they make way more money than the efforts of one person can possibly justify but rather than calling for reform or just paying their employees more they like to keep most of the money for themselves, donating a small portion to charity to boost their image and buy off dissent among the people.

3) Pragmatism: people who aware they make way too much but believe they can't change the system and use their wealth (and the tax deduction) to direct as much money as possible to causes that they champion and (in their eyes) get too little attention from the government.

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    Sep 26 2012: Guilt.

    It is a form of moral money laundering.

    A way of buying esteem.

    In Maine at the moment we have a classic example. The Chairman of the Board of Trustees of Colby College, a venerable and well respected old Maine college was right in the middle of the fiddle on the Libor and forced to resign from Barclay's. He has been a principal contributor to the school all through this time where the source of his wealth actually undermines opportunity for young people in Maine and globally.

    The college hasn't asked for nor has he offered his resignation.

    This moral money laundering thing is a two way street. The people who don't dare worry about where the money comes from keep it all going.

    Also, at least in our tax code, what constitutes "charitable contribution" is pretty wide open and 100% tax deductible.I would love to see an analysis of what these charitable contributions are actually supporting.

    ALEC, the lobbying arm of plutocrats and the Koch Brothers, had charitable status until recently.

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