Repugnant to the Very Idea of a Democratic Society? On the Role of Foundations in Democratic Societies

PSC49_03By Rob Reich (Stanford University)

Foundations represent the institutional codification and promotion of plutocratic voices in democratic societies. With low accountability, donor-directed preferences in perpetuity, and generous tax subsidies, they are institutional oddities. What, if anything, confers democratic legitimacy on foundations? I first show why foundations might be a repugnant threat to democratic governance and then defend a particular mode of operation that offers redemption. I argue that foundations can play an important discovery role in democracy, a mechanism for experimentation in social policy over a long time horizon.

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PS: Political Science & Politics / Volume 49 / Issue 03 / July 2016, pp 466-472 / Copyright © American Political Science Association 2016