HIGHTOWER: The Corporate Concept of Charity
True philanthropy is not a function of being rich, but of being generous, giving of yourself without expecting anything in return.It's interesting that the greatest philanthropists in our country are middle and low-income folks. These people give a higher percentage of their income to charities, churches, and other philanthropic causes than do the privileged families that hold great wealth.Yet, the establishment media would have us believe that corporate executives are now the big philanthropists. We get gushing stories about various mega-corps "generously donating" bundles of money to various universities, for example.But check it out: Behind every one of these heart-warming tales of corporate altruism is a much less flattering story of corporate avarice. The New York Times reports that corporate giving is now above $4 billion a year ... but these gifts come with strings attached.Cal State University at Fresno, for example, is getting several million dollars from Save Mart Supermarkets to help build a campus event center. How nice of Save Mart, right? Not exactly. In return, Cal State's place will be named Save Mart Center, and the company also gets the exclusive right to all off-campus ticket sales for Cal State events. That's not philanthropy -- it's a straight business deal. Yet Save Mart's "gift" can be deducted from its corporate taxes as a charitable donation.Likewise, the drug giant Merck & Company is giving $15 million to M.I.T. for the philanthropic purpose of development of innovative technologies by faculty and students there. What's the catch? Merck will be given patents and licensing rights to the technologies and products developed under M.I.T.'s program.These corporate schemes to convert our university facilities and faculty into bottom-line assets for the corporation are a perversion of the very concept of charity, changing it from giving ... to getting.