Patriotic Philanthropy? Financing the State with Gifts to Government

Patriotic Philanthropy? Financing the State with Gifts to Government

This Article offers a positive and normative account of an important and growing trend: wealthy individuals are increasingly giving their money to the government to encourage the government to fund particular projects that these individuals want the government to pursue. Such gifts—dubbed “patriotic philanthropy” by one prominent donor—raise fundamental questions about the role that private money plays and ought to play in public policy-making. Legal academics have addressed these types of questions in other contexts, such as campaign financing, privatization of government, and private philanthropy. However, patriotic philanthropy, which presents a new and perhaps more effective way for wealthy individuals to influence the government, has generally escaped the attention of the legal literature. We aim to remedy that lacuna with this Article. Although we do not question the enormous good that patriotic philanthropy can do, this Article argues that gifts to government raise significant concerns about democratic process, equality, and state capacity.

 

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