|Marky Mark, Priscilla Chan and daughter Max.|
Who could resist such cuteness? I could.
And, an alleged skeptic should know better. After being given a lawyer's explainer of what such a corporation is, as he attempted to refute a Pro Publica pice from my original blog post, and referenced again below. I Googled to find the actual law instead.
It's true that 30 states have some sort of benefits corporation, per Wiki. It's also true that every one of them was created this decade, when the man and the hour of neoliberalism met nationally in Barack Obama. That alone should be ground for pause. Nobody has any real empirical evidence on how these babies operate.
Specific to Zuckerberg and where Facebook is?
(a) No person may bring an action or assert a claim against a benefit corporation or its directors or officers under this chapter except in a benefit enforcement proceeding.
(b) A benefit enforcement proceeding may be commenced or maintained only as follows:
(1) Directly by the benefit corporation.
(2) Derivatively by any of the following:
(A) A shareholder.
(B) A director.
(C) A person or group of persons that owns beneficially or of record 5 percent or more of the equity interests in an entity of which the benefit corporation is a subsidiary.
(D) Other persons as have been specified in the articles or bylaws of the benefit corporation.
(c) A benefit corporation shall not be liable for monetary damages under this part for any failure of the benefit corporation to create a general or specific public benefit.
(D)efined as a material positive impact on society and the environment, taken as a whole, as assessed against a 3rd-party standard, as defined, that satisfies certain requirements.
Benefit corporations need not be certified or audited by the third-party standard. Instead, they use third-party standards solely as a rubric a company uses to measure its own performance.
Let's see how this spells out in detail.
(e) “Specific public benefit” includes all of the following:
(1) Providing low-income or underserved individuals or communities with beneficial products or services.
(2) Promoting economic opportunity for individuals or communities beyond the creation of jobs in the ordinary course of business.
(3) Preserving the environment.
(4) Improving human health.
(5) Promoting the arts, sciences, or advancement of knowledge.
(6) Increasing the flow of capital to entities with a public benefit purpose.
(7) The accomplishment of any other particular benefit for society or the environment.
No. 2? Former San Francisco Mayor, now Cal Lite Guv Gavin Newsom's pothole Donkey Kong ideas would fit.
Back to that tax issue:
And, again, per Pro Publica, Huckterberg gets to save on his tax bill while doing all of this.
So what are the tax implications? They are quite generous to Zuckerberg. I asked Victor Fleischer, a law professor and tax specialist at the University of San Diego School of Law, as well as a contributor to DealBook. He explained that if the LLC sold stock, Zuckerberg would pay a hefty capital gains tax, particularly if Facebook stock kept climbing.
If the LLC donated to a charity, he would get a deduction just like anyone else. That’s a nice little bonus. But the LLC probably won’t do that because it can do better. The savvier move, Professor Fleischer explained, would be to have the LLC donate the appreciated shares to charity, which would generate a deduction at fair market value of the stock without triggering any tax.
Because, per that same lawyer, and contra one neolib pseudoskeptic, Zuckerberg's money can be used for lobbying purposes, too.
Zuckerberg didn’t create these tax laws and cannot be criticized for minimizing his tax bills. If he had created a foundation, he would have accrued similar tax benefits. But what this means is that he amassed one of the greatest fortunes in the world — and is likely never to pay any taxes on it. Any time a superwealthy plutocrat makes a charitable donation, the public ought to be reminded that this is how our tax system works. The superwealthy buy great public relations and adulation for donations that minimize their taxes.
Instead of lavishing praise on Zuckerberg for having issued a news release with a promise, this should be an occasion to mull what kind of society we want to live in.
A. Technology is the answer for everything, and thus
But, since a lot of Americans ARE suckers for that?
Thus, yes, giant statues of Mark Zuckerberg on every county courthouse square in the United States could be called a "specific public benefit."
Or, much more likely to happen, and more scary, Zuckerberg could do a Facebook-based version of Über or Lyft, undercutting both.
Or he could become an urban slumlord.
As for tech-neolibs thinking their philanthropic dollars do better than government, think again. Will our even-more-stretched tax dollars, unable to repair roads and bridges, see Zuckerberg help with that?
In the face of this, only a neolib who thinks the private sector can do everything better, even if the private sector has ego-inflated individuals who their ideas are always right, would claim the current non-profit system is broken.
Part of the problem is that many Americans, including said neoliberal pseudoskeptic, don't understand what philanthropy actually is. Per this piece, remember:
If you are giving money to somebody with the expectation that they will carry out your instructions, further your agenda, owe you compliance and assistance, or complete a project you've assigned them — you're not a philanthropist. If your giving is designed to give you power or control over an aspect of public life in our country — you're not a philanthropist.
Actually, maybe what was broken is how a certain non-profit was being run?
And thus, my lightbulb about the "motivated reasoning" angle for a certain interlocutor of mine just went on.
Because, among the transparency missing from LLC public corporations is that the Chan Zuckerberg Foundation won't have to disclose salaries. On 990 form for the IRS, an actual charity has to disclose the salaries of a president, chairman of the board, etc.
Update, April 12, 2016: Facebook's new Siri-on-Oxy-slow bot-apps are surely a public benefit, right?