Elsewhere online
April 07, 2015

Opinion: Big Giving Muffles Criticism of Income Inequality

Former U.S. labor secretary Robert Reich asserts in a Huffington Post column that Wall Street and corporate interests are using philanthropy to "buy off" institutions and organizations from highlighting the country's economic divide.

Mr. Reich, now a professor of public policy at the University of California, Berkeley, cites speaking engagements at houses of worship and small colleges at which he was asked by his hosts not to criticize Wall Street or advocate tax hikes on the rich for fear of antagonizing wealthy listeners. He moves on to larger examples such as billionaire industrialists Charles and David Koch's funding of university programs and Comcast's subsidizing of a policy institute that in turn makes the case for the cable firm's planned merger with Time Warner.

"It's bad enough big money is buying off politicians," he writes. "It's also buying off nonprofits that used to be sources of investigation, information, and social change, from criticizing big money."