But the context I was using probably needs to be clarified.
First, I am referring to the right wing anti-big government notion that charity and aid are best controlled by the private sector. Note that I did acknowledge that the issue of who deserves help also applies to government.
Second and more importantly, some believe that the charity Oprah (and others like her) extends has the power to change the world in that the empowerment of others (i.e. education of girls in South Africa) will allow them too to become wealthy. From this perspective, Oprah becomes a saviour. Certainly, her help has the power to change the world for x number of children. But she and those like her still get the biggest pieces of the pie and all the wealth and power that goes with it. And the rich have long given charity to the power, there is nothing new in the notion.
And the hero worship from those who see Oprah as a saviour is troublesome. I don't think she merits hero status and in real terms, does not challenge or change the status quo. The rich remain rich while the poor get poorer while people like Oprah wield far too much power. And given her extreme largesse she's not exactly making a sacrifice in giving away money. While others of equal largesse may not do the same or as much, it is still not hard for her do. And she gets paid many times over in adulation from the masses and affirmations of her power.
I'm amused by the posts calling Oprah "self-important." Oprah's impact and importance is no greater than what "the public" has freely given her! Every book she mentions becomes a best seller. Every business she likes becomes swamped. Every face cream she adores becomes a must-have. How can you not be "important" if you have such enormous influence?
Yeah, she was annoying at times with it, but the collective "we" made her a deity. She didn't do that herself. Is she always right? No, but apparently the public doesn't know any better. Clearly, a lot of people adored her and put stock in what she had to say.
Criticizing someone for giving away millions is ridiculous. No one has the right to criticize someone else's charitable choices. How many of your belongings have YOU given up to help the poor? Oprah lives in a capitalist society. She made her money because people willingly watched her show and bought her magazine and paid to see her speak. It's not like she hustled or robbed anybody or forced little kids to work in sweat shops. Honestly, why so critical of a woman who has done so much good, where others would not have?
"Marge, if you're going to get mad at me every time I do something stupid, then I guess I'm just going to have to stop doing stupid things!" - Homer Simpson in the Mr. Plow episode
And you just can't compare how much ordinary or low income people give to the poor to what Oprah gives. She could give away my entire annual income in five minutes and it would hardly make a dent in her bank account.
I love Oprah, even though I rarely watch her show. I also think she's an underrated actress.