Friday’s cover story of the Daily News, written by one of their long-time gossip columnists, is essentially a rip job on Jennifer Lopez for not donating money to her old Catholic school in the Bronx, which her mother worked at for many years. Granted, it’s newsworthy since Lopez, who like most celebrities, does tout her involvement in charity efforts, but does it really merit the front page?
Joanna Molloy, who claims she grew up on the same block in the Castle Hill area that Lopez did, calls attention to Lopez’s net worth, which is a useful piece of information.
Depending on whether you read Forbes or Fortune, Lopez is worth anywhere from $110 million to $260 million.
But she quickly strays into a gratuitous attack on Lopez’s alleged dodging of autograph seekers when being interviewed by Diane Sawyer back in the Bronx in 2002.
“She doesn’t represent,” one kid said then.
So there you have it, a not so subtle way to imply that Jennifer, who feels free to “play the race card” to sell records, is too diva-licious to “represent.”
Almost hidden in Molloy’s attack–which certainly in some sense is well-deserved–is this reference to the real news of the week about mega-rich philanthropy:
Okay, so J-Lo, worth anywhere from $110 million – $260 million, whose philanthropy profile is barely touched on in this piece, is compared to Zuckerberg, worth, according to Forbes magazine, $6.5 billion. That’s at least 30 times as much as Lopez, and possibly 60 times as much. In fact, the money that Zuckerberg donated to Newark public schools could be equal to J-Lo’s entire net wealth. But for him it’s 1/60th of his holdings. Chump change.
So then, the Daily News front page is running a sexualized image of a New York Puerto Rican woman who is accused of playing the race card to promote herself and then doesn’t bother to donate money to the alma mater of the author of the piece. We don’t get much of an idea of where her charitable donations go, and we don’t even know how much the author is contributing to their school. And she is compared to someone who is 60 times as wealthy as she, who announced the Newark school donation deal the same week he was 1) named one of the richest people in the world and 2) the subject of a film that is notorious for having a pretty negative view of him.
How much money would go to public schools in the U.S. if people like Zuckerberg, the wealthiest people in the country, were taxed at the same rate they were before the Bush tax cuts? We don’t know that. But we do know that this past August 4th, dozens of U.S. billionaires pledged to give at least half their fortunes to charity.
One can argue that the billionaires are donating the money to avoid taxes, but under the current tax laws, which Democrats are too afraid to change even though they got a mandate from the American voter, they hardly seem vulnerable. What the billionaire’s pledge really means is that very wealthy individuals and very wealthy corporations will have the largest voice in creating public policy, not us. And in the long run, that control over public policy will create larger and more enduring profit streams.
At least through representative democracy we had the illusion that we were electing public officials who would then use tax dollars to implement policy. Now it’s about very wealthy individuals and corporations evading, for the most part, their fair rate of taxation and taking it upon themselves to shape public policy.
Take education for instance. This past weekend, unironically premiering in tandem with, Oliver Stone’s Wall Street 2, was Waiting for Superman, a corporate commercial, backed at least philosophically by Bill and Melinda Gates, the authors of the aforementioned “Billionaire’s Pledge,” as a rhetorical device to convince moviegoers that teacher’s unions, and not public disinvestment, are the reasons for the deterioration of public education. Don’t take my word for it, read this and this and this. I think you can even find a Facebook page for the last one.
Will someone pull back the curtain and reveal the gaggle of self-styled ubermensch who have amassed unspeakable fortunes and now want to be acknowledged as the true wizards who will deliver us from our own democratic incompetence?
Tune into next week’s episode of….Superman!