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Elon Musk’s Latest Innovation: Troll Philanthropy


Mr. Musk did not respond to an email asking him to discuss his philanthropic giving.The notion that rich people have a moral obligation to give is an ancient one. Mr. Soskis, a historian of philanthropy, notes that wealthy citizens in ancient Rome tried to outdo one another paying for public baths and theaters. The inscriptions on those edifices could count as a form of early donor lists.The idea that the richest might need charity to improve their public relations is also longstanding, driven home in the Gilded Age by the 1882 outburst by railway magnate William Henry Vanderbilt, “The public be damned!” that shadowed him to the end of his days.Updated Dec. 10, 2021, 11:05 a.m. ETEfforts to track the charitabl …

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