May 28, 2019

The Giving Pledge snags a Bezos

Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

MacKenzie Bezos is part of the latest tranche of billionaires to sign on to the Giving Pledge, which commits participants to giving away at least half of their fortunes.

Why it matters: Bezos is estimated to be worth more than $35 billion after her divorce from Amazon founder Jeff Bezos. Her move opens her up to criticism over how the mega-wealthy use philanthropy.

Details:

  • She might go further than half, hinting in her letter making the commitment that she “has a disproportionate amount of money to share” and that she will ”keep at it until the safe is empty.”
  • A spokesperson for Bezos declined to comment on her specific priorities, but the Day One Fund that she and Jeff Bezos launched last year focused on education and homelessness.
  • Other pledge signatories this year include WhatsApp founder Brian Acton and his wife, former Stanford Communications Director Tegan Acton, Coinbase CEO Brian Armstrong, Twilio CEO Jeff Lawson, and his wife, physician Erica Lawson, as well as VCs Chris and Crystal Sacca.
  • The total number of Giving Pledge signatories now numbers 204.

The big picture: Bezos and the other billionaires who’ve taken the pledge are liable to charges that they are using philanthropy to influence society without doing anything to address the underlying causes of inequality — or paying their fair share of taxes.

The bottom line, via Axios' Scott Rosenberg: There's a growing chorus of critics pointing out that we're allowing billionaires to choose how to spend their fortunes without paying any taxes on them, when we could be taxing them and devoting a portion to publicly agreed upon needs.

Go deeper

Updated 10 mins ago - Politics & Policy

George Floyd protests: What you need to know

Photo: David Dee Delgado/Getty Images

Clashes erupted between police and protesters in several major U.S. cities Saturday night as demonstrations over the death of George Floyd and other police-related killings of black men spread across the country.

The big picture: Floyd's death in Minneapolis police custody is the latest reminder of the disparities between black and white communities in the U.S. and comes as African Americans grapple with higher death rates from the coronavirus and higher unemployment from trying to stem its spread.

Updated 31 mins ago - Politics & Policy

U.S. cities crack down on protesters

Demonstrators gather at Lafayette Park across from the White House to protest the death of George Floyd in Washington, D.C. Photo: Yasin Ozturk/Anadolu Agency via Getty Images

Major U.S. cities have implemented curfews and called on National Guard to mobilize as thousands of demonstrators gather across the nation to continue protesting the death of George Floyd.

The state of play: Hundreds have already been arrested as tensions continue to rise between protesters and local governments. Protesters are setting police cars on fire as freeways remain blocked and windows are shattered, per the Washington Post. Law enforcement officials are using tear gas and rubber bullets to try to disperse crowds and send protesters home.

Trump to invite Russia and other non-member G7 countries to summit

President Trump at Cape Canaveral, Florida, on Saturday. Photo: Saul Martinez/Getty Images

President Trump told reporters on Saturday evening he would postpone the G7 summit to September and expand the meeting to more nations that are not members of the Group of 7.

Details: Trump said he would invite Russia, South Korea, Australia and India to the summit, according to a pool report. "I don’t feel that as a G7 it properly represents what’s going on in the world. It’s a very outdated group of countries," he said.