Let’s Give Mark Zuckerberg a Break, OK?

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Mark Zuckerberg’s announcement that he will use 99 percent of his wealth for charitable purposes has generated a surprising amount of acrimony. I don’t really get why. Anyone who looks into it for more than a few seconds understands that the financial structure he set up doesn’t benefit him personally, so there’s no point griping about that. Nor does it make a lot of sense to make Zuckerberg into a poster boy for income inequality. There are lots of better examples. Josh Barro identifies the only real concern about Zuckerberg’s plan:

The bigger issue is the promise: to use nearly all his wealth “to further the mission of advancing human potential and promoting equality.”….[This] is, to a large degree, subjective. Most political donors believe their favored candidates benefit not just themselves but the public, and essentially all start-up founders in Silicon Valley believes their companies will serve to advance human potential. Even donations that fit within the legal framework of charity can be duds: Mr. Zuckerberg’s $100 million gift to the Newark Public Schools seems to have done little to benefit Newark students.

Well, yeah. There’s no way to force Zuckerberg or anyone else to give their money away. There’s no way to force them to give it away on projects you approve of. There’s no way to guarantee that all their donations will work out well. That’s life, and Zuckerberg is no better or worse than any other billionaire on these scores. Still, the mere fact of announcing that he plans to give away 99 percent of his wealth is praiseworthy, isn’t it? He’s putting himself under pressure to follow through and setting an example for others at the same time. What’s not to like?

As for the fact that he wants to oversee what the money is spent on instead of, say, giving it all to the Red Cross—well, I’d do the same thing. Wouldn’t you?

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SIX TRUTHS

Reclaiming power from those who abuse it often starts with telling the truth. And in "This Is How Authoritarians Get Defeated," MoJo's Monika Bauerlein unpacks six truths to remember during the homestretch of an election where democracy, truth, and decency are on the line.

Truth #1: The chaos is the point.

Truth #2: Team Reality is bigger than it seems.

Truth #3: Facebook owns this.

Truth #4: When we go to work, we're in the fight.

Truth #5: It's about minority rule.

Truth #6: The only thing that can save us is…us.

Please take a moment to see how all these truths add up, because what happens in the weeks and months ahead will reverberate for at least a generation and we better be prepared.

And if you think journalism like Mother Jones'—that calls it like it is, that will never acquiesce to power, that looks where others don't—can help guide us through this historic, high-stakes moment, and you're able to right now, please help us reach our $350,000 goal by October 31 with a donation today. It's all hands on deck for democracy.

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