Mother Jones illustration; Jörg Carstensen/Getty

MacKenzie Scott Shows Billionaires How To Give Away a Fortune Right

December 26, 2020 — Not long ago,

Never mind the old saying. A person actually can be too thin—and too rich. Consider the opening lines of Just Giving, an eye-opening book published earlier this year by Stanford political scientist Rob Reich: “Your fortune is rolling up, rolling up like an avalanche! You must keep up with it! You must distribute it faster than it grows! If you do not, it will crush you, and your children, and your children’s children!”

So wrote Frederick Gates to sixty-seven-year-old John D. Rockefeller in 1906. Rockefeller was the founder of Standard Oil, a corporation that had generated a colossal fortune and made him the richest man in the world.

Gates was Rockefeller’s trusted business and philanthropic adviser, who helped the tycoon incorporate one of the nation’s first general purpose charitable foundations, but he could easily have been delivering that warning to Bill Gates or Jeff Bezos—or perhaps the novelist-turned-philanthropist MacKenzie Scott, who made headlines last week when she revealed on Medium that she has spent the past four months giving away almost $4.2 billion to 384 organizations in the United States and Puerto Rico. [Read more.]

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