We've all heard of successful businesspeople who give lots of money to charity. Indeed, such benefactors have huge impact, such as the library world's beloved Andrew Carnegie.
But is such philanthropy really as good as it seems? A pair of articles from our friends at the New York Times and The Economist suggests otherwise. Those big donations, according to the Times article, net donors some big tax breaks, meaning that money given to little Timmy's private school is money the government can't use for potentially worthier purposes.
And what about all those companies that do good works? Well, as The Economist notes, Robert Reich thinks that focusing on corporate social responsibility misses the point. Businesses, even socially responsible ones, ultimately focus on their interests. We shouldn't get so preoccupied with them that we take the heat off the people who are supposed to be watching the economy: the federal government.
Here's what economist Tyler Cowen thinks. What about you?