The Groundhog Who Bit Bloomberg Got It Wrong

| Mon Feb. 2, 2009 6:52 PM EST

Writing on this blog, Josh Harkinson has fun at the expense of New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg, whose hand was bitten by a Staten Island groundhog:

Maybe biting the hand of a New York billionaire was [the groundhog's] way of saying that spring won't come until someone smacks down the plutocrats on Wall Street. Too bad this isn't Bill Murray's Groundhog Day. If it was, Bloomberg could relive the pain each day until he saves the world.

Actually, Bloomberg, who made his fortune not by swindling anyone but by providing a media service for which there was much demand, has done more to save the world than your average, TARP-sucking plutocrat. From a recent The New York Times story:

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Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg can now claim to be No. 1 in a category he cares deeply about: giving his money away.

Mr. Bloomberg, the self-made billionaire founder of the Bloomberg financial information firm, donated $235 million in 2008, making him the leading individual living donor in the United States, according to a list released online on Monday by The Chronicle of Philanthropy....

The mayor contributed to more than 1,200 organizations promoting arts, education and health care, like Johns Hopkins Medicine; the Robin Food Foundation, an antipoverty group; and Stand Up to Cancer, a research organization in Pasadena, Calif.

The previous year, Mr. Bloomberg gave to about 1,100 groups, and his total contributions of $205 million trailed those of several people, including Jon M. Huntsman, the chemicals magnate, and the financier George Soros....

"As the economy took a turn from bad to worse, I felt it was the right time — the essential time — for someone like me, someone who's been so fortunate in my own life, to step up and give back even more," Mr. Bloomberg said in a statement. "I don't think of it only as a responsibility, but as a privilege."

Bloomberg is an eclectic philanthropist. He has donated millions to fund anti-smoking efforts in China and other nations and to prevent traffic deaths in Vietnam and Mexico. Say what you want about him as mayor of NYC, he has, through his foundation, financed a load of good. If that groundhog was looking to make a statement, it should have chosen, say, the CEO of AIG.

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