Unjust Rewards: Exposing greed and inequality in Britain today (2008)
This book is an extended critique of the holding, and holders, of wealth and the impact of economic inequality on contemporary UK society. It contains a chapter entitled ‘Philanthropy is no excuse’, which describes charitable giving by the rich as ‘mere ostentation’, a ‘passport to the in-crowd’ and ‘another way of exerting power and control’. It is, therefore, a little ironic that the book is published by Granta, owned by the widely admired philanthropist Sigrid Rausing, and that the research upon which the book is based was funded by the Joseph Rowntree Foundation and the Barrow Cadbury Trust. This book is a polemic without nuance – all the rich are greedy and anti-tax; all rich philanthropists are in it for themselves. It is a shame that Toynbee and Walker, both distinguished social commentators, fail to acknowledge the other sides to their story: that philanthropic motives range from the self-interested to the selfless and that philanthropic acts can benefit the neediest as well as the elite. Despite the infuriating sweeping statements, this book is worth reading to comprehend the essence of the anti-philanthropy position.