Sour Grapes Won’t Spoil Oprah’s Generosity

By |  January 8, 2007

Philanthropists should be celebrated; 89 percent of American households contribute to charity, according to the National Philanthropic Trust (NPT). That’s a good thing.

America’s fascination with the uber-rich makes much of their life media events, including their charitable donations.
So when Oprah Winfrey announced she opened a $40-million school for girls in South Africa, headlines were abound.

Not surprising, it was met with some criticism from some Americans who would have liked to see the gift in our backyards.

My response: Lashing out at Oprah is merely a symptom of the frustration many working-class families feel about the growing divide between the rich and poor. In case you haven’t noticed, the rich are getting very rich.

Record bonuses were awarded this year for top Wall Street brokers, yet media pundits have yet to hold their feet to the fire about where their philanthropic efforts might go.

Star athletes receive food stipends during away games, as if they can’t squeeze lunch money out of their $100-million contracts. High-paid executives, movie stars, athletes and trust-fund babies can insulate their families from work for centuries, but what should they owe the society that allowed them to amass their fortunes?

Granted, there are many generous givers in this stratosphere. Still, there are many Americans with enough disposable income to fix America’s ills. Unfortunately for Oprah, we single out those who give the most because we disagree with their motives and agendas. We’re jealous of their gifts, even if it’s to some of the world’s poorest children who are stricken with the fallout from decades of inequitable social policies.

Oprah doesn’t deserve one disparaging word until we as a society ask ourselves: How much money is enough? What is the role for the super-rich for the betterment of all men?

I know many are doing their part. But for the first time in American history, the richest 100 people in the country are all billionaires. Their combined wealth rivals the gross domestic product of all but the 50 most prosperous countries of the world. Seriously, let that sink in.

Andrew Carnegie furnished our country with libraries. What will the legacy of today’s super-rich be? What should it be?

— David Frabotta, Senior Editor

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1 Comment on "Sour Grapes Won’t Spoil Oprah’s Generosity"

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  1. Anonymous says:

    I was just looking at a list of philanthropists and the money they give and what it goes to. And I started thinking about the fact that I, who live on the poor side of a working class city have never seen or heard of most of these organizations…I don’t know anyone that has been helped by those organizations.the majority of the money that was on the list I was looking at went to medical research or small specialized programs in inner city neighborhoods.And while I agree less disease is a good thing I couldn’t help but think of all the highly paid, highly educated medical reseachers that alot of that money went to. and I think it’s great to support inner city art programs for a handful of kids(believe me as an artist I get the value)but again the majority of people running those programs get paid well and are educated. And this to me is where the problem lies.In my town they got a $70,000 grant to study homelessness.The money went to one or two proffesors at the local university. No one I know on the streets was ever talked to by these researchers and no one in need and homeless ever saw a penny of that money.They are all still shivering and hungry on the streets.And I see this all the time in America.We try to solve social problems by throwing alot of money at educated affluent people so they can ponder the problem in the comfort of there warm office and the real work never gets done.It’s a shame that good intentions get so lost along the way but that’s the disconnection that grows as the gap between the rich and the poor increases….I have only one thought that comes to mind…let them eat cake….