On the one hand, Robert Smith’s choice to pay off the student debt of those in Morehouse College’s Class of 2019 is a remarkable act of generosity.
But, writes the New York Times Editorial Board, what it mostly does is act as a reminder of the massive failings that have led to today’s vast income inequalities, particularly in the US.
Nowhere is this more apparent than on online fundraising platform GoFundMe, the NYT writes:
The substitution of philanthropy for public policy is most glaring in the realm of health care, where it has become appallingly common for Americans to beg friends and strangers for the money necessary to pay for treatment. The fund-raising website GoFundMe estimates that it hosts about 250,000 fund-raisers for medical expenses each year. Over the past nine years, the site has processed about $5 billion in donations — about a third of which went toward medical expenses. The site’s chief executive has said that GoFundMe wasn’t developed as a substitute for health insurance, and he regrets the necessity. “We shouldn’t be the solution to a complex set of systemic problems,” he said. “They should be solved by the government working properly.”
I wish GoFundMe didn’t need to be around to solve problems that shouldn’t exist. Everyone should have access to health care. I would love for there never to be another medical campaign on GoFundMe. But that’s not the reality we live in.