In the United States, we are now treated to regular announcements about benevolent billionaires pledging to share their wealth. Amazon founder Jeff Bezos, for instance, recently told CNN that he would be giving away the majority of his $124 billion fortune in his lifetime. Further back in 2015, Meta founder and CEO Mark Zuckerberg announced he would give away what he makes from 99% of his Facebook shares.

At this point, we should assume a skeptical posture. The truth is, pledges like these may take years, decades or even generations to reach their nonprofit destinations – if ever. That’s why we need more public scrutiny of billionaire philanthropy – and much clearer rules to make sure donations actually support real, working charities.

Chuck Collins directs the Program on Inequality and the Common Good at the Institute for Policy Studies, where he also co-edits 

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