Last week a peculiar incident took place in the year-end graduation ceremony of Moorhouse College, Atlanta. A billionaire businessman named Robert Smith was invited as the main speaker of the function. He is the most richman in America. He has fame for his service to the welfare of the people from the past days. Without giving anybody advance hint Robert Smith declared at the last stage, he would pay any unpaid education loan of everyone of them who were being coming out as graduates from this College in 2019. Several minutes of many persons passed away to understand the meaning of what Robert Smith said about. Not a few dollars only, a loan of about 40 million dollars of 400 learners was exempted by a single word. Expenses of education in the U.S.A. is not an easy matter. For prosecuting studies in the College for four years some of the learners have borrowed one lac dollar or more. Some of them are compelled to bear the burden of the loan even after the education career. A highly rich person who holds the ownership of about 2 billion dollars has now opened the new probability of many of these learners so easily.
Since few years the rich persons of the world have turned generous. From Bill Gates to Warren Buffet, from Mark Jakarberg of Facebook to Zef Bezoes – all of them have fallen in competition to give away riches more than others. Bill Gates has already declared that he would give away the heaps of money he has earned in life. His total riches counts about 100 billion dollars. It counts more than 45 billion dollars that he has so far donated.
In all the countries the rich people give more or less money in charity. Someone contributes due to craving for religious merit in the next world, some others do for earning name and fame in the present life and some people donate money on the thinking of receiving tax exemption. There are such persons who distribute money from the idea that earning fame through donation helps more acquirement of riches.
The former journalist of New York Times Anand Giridhar Das has stirred up an old controversy anew on the goodness or badness of giving away money. In a book named Winners Take All he has claimed that the act which the highly rich people make in the name of deed of gift is nothing more than one kind of mockery. None of them earned money in honest way. By applying influence and power themselves they create such a situation that helps them become millionaire, multi-millionaire. Now again they have started in the activities for changing the world the target of which is only one – not changing the world rather the facilities that they have been enjoying so far are to be kept lasting. According to the arguments of Giridhar Das the key problem of the running enjoyments system, inequitable distribution of wealth and continuous disparity. As the wealth of the rich people does not diminish even if they scatter over some money, so also disparity world over gets no difference. In a capitalist society the main instrument of creating personal wealth is the profit. Unless the laborers and the consumers are exploited no profit accrues. So the unlawful channel through which they have heaped up hill of riches, how can they minimize disparity by using the same system?
Then the highly rich people are inviting danger to the contrary by gifting their own resources? Off Course, they are doing at least a little. They themselves fixes how the money donated by them would be spent. It is in most cases as that of Foreign Aid given by America- where and in what sector the granted money would be spent and the other conditions are to be accepted before getting the donated money. It has been observed that about 60 percent of the money from the highly rich donor country goes to religious institution. The lion share of the rest 40 percent goes to education field. In most cases, money is being diffused there where the highly rich people themselves study, most of which are privately owned college-university. These educational institutions are usually rich; a big work of them is to prepare a reasoning for the learners in favor of ongoing disparity system. And extra money is being lavishly spent in that schools which is also done by applying the facility of tax exemption at government level. The former Labor Minister of Bill Clinton Robert Raish has commented that the acting the rich people do in the name of donation-charity is nothing more than an easy mechanism in practice to be relieved of reasonable tax burden.
The present President of America Donald Trump is the best example of this proposition. He opned a foundation on a plea of donation contemplation. And the tax-free money he collects from this foundation- something of himself, the major portion of others- most of this is spent for the support of his own pet projects. Even he spent thousands of dollars of this foundation for buying his own portrait. When a condition of ‘snakes come out in digging earth-worm’ developed the foundation was closed.
It is not that the charity-culture of Bangladesh is very much different. There was a time when king-emperor-jotdar-zamider built mosque-temple in the name of donation-meditation; some of them built Library or School. By now we have forgotten that how serious oppressive persons were these people in power or how they used the lathials to realize the rent. We have kept in memory ‘The Tajmahal’ but have not kept 20-22 thousand workers in our memory the blood and tears involved in the construction of the mausoleum, even we don’t know their names. It is not that this situation has changed in the recent time. Even today those who contribute-give in charity and make name and fame are mostly loan-defaulters or have made up wealth in an oblique channel. All of them want to wash at least little, filth and stain of the body by way of spreading money.
So, let the rich people enjoy their own wealth; they should not spend in any social work; it is more reasonable? None of those persons who have raised questions about the benevolence of the highly rich people do not say so. They only say that the aim of social change should not be stopping of bleeding by using band aid in the hand but to strike the causes of bleeding. If is not possible to make real change by keeping social disparity and inequality of income distribution. It is alright that Robert Smith helped 400 learners of Moorhouse College in changing their condition but what would happen to learners who are hump-backed with the loan burden or who would take this burden in future days? In fact if the rich people spread rice for the crows, few persons perhaps get advantage but the structural feature of inequality does never change; the world also does not change.
None says that the rich people themselves would cause this change. Such an expectation is also unjust. If the rich people honestly desire change, the minimum work they can do is that without taking the responsibility of redistribution of wealth themselves, they should be connected with the social initiatives. If they keep in mind the picture of general welfare without giving predominance to their personal priority small-big good works can be accomplished. For this purpose the first thing would be to tag those people to this work for whom this charity is meant for. If a donation comes for building a road in a village, which direction it would move for better advantage is best known by the villagers more than any other person.E
- Prothom Alo Special Representative in the U.S.A.
** Translated into English by ‘The Economy’ Analyst.