birds in a barrel's mission is to release creative nonfiction into the wild.

40 Days & 40 Writes is its first project.


David Callahan nails it in his new book, The Givers: Wealth, Power and Philanthropy in a New Gilded Age. We have more billionaires than ever and they want to change the world to more perfectly reflect their ideals, so they are throwing their money at a whole host of problems they think they can fix. One problem with this problem solving is we are all underwriting it by allowing them to not pay taxes on this income. It is outsourcing our social welfare system to a handful of ridiculously rich people and we have no say in how they "invest" this money in our society. It's as undemocratic as it gets.

Now, if I were a billionaire, or even just a multi-multi-millionaire, I'd do things differently. First, I wouldn't take the tax write-off for the money I give away. Well, I wouldn't take all of the tax write off I would be allowed. Still sorting through exactly the percentages here. But I would remember there are lots of people like the real me who will depend on Medicare and I'd make sure it is funded.

I'd give money to non-profit journalism outfits, all of them. In fact, I'd fund any effort to create a more transparent world. Total disclosure of all campaign donations, nonprofit donations, PAC donations. I would think about all of the ways to support the real me, a journalist who can't get arrested.

I want to fix every part of society that is broken, but I don't know how. So I would report the hell out of everything. I'd talk with everyone everywhere. And I'd listen to the people who know and follow their lead. In short, if I were a billionaire, I could afford to be a journalist.

The food system, homelessness, healthcare, inequality. Half of the money would be spent on immediate suffering and half on long term solutions so the problem goes away.

And then I'd buy an place in NYC and a place on Martha's Vineyard and go to concerts, plays, art museums and read books. And I'd drink better wine.

I'd do what every billionaire does with their money, spend it on myself.


How we keep score