From this piece in Der Spiegel referring to the recent news that 40 billionaires (led by Bill Gates) would donate large sums of their own money to charity:
I find the US initiative highly problematic. You can write donations off in your taxes to a large degree in the USA. So the rich make a choice: Would I rather donate or pay taxes? The donors are taking the place of the state. That's unacceptable. ... It is all just a bad transfer of power from the state to billionaires. So it's not the state that determines what is good for the people, but rather the rich want to decide. That's a development that I find really bad. What legitimacy do these people have to decide where massive sums of money will flow? ... In this case, 40 superwealthy people want to decide what their money will be used for. That runs counter to the democratically legitimate state. In the end the billionaires are indulging in hobbies that might be in the common good, but are very personal.** [emphasis mine]
It's not clear to what extent this person - himself a multi-millionaire - speaks for the rest of Germany. But it's a really interesting (and frankly, terrifying) look into the European-social-democrat mind. "It's not the state that determines what is good for people"? "People want to decide what their money will be used for. That runs counter to the democratically legitimate state."? What? Those are notions so foreign to me - and I believe to most Americans - that it seems caricatured. As in, I would almost expect to see this in a Republican smear campaign of Nancy Pelosi.
If this is what the modern American Progressive movement is thinking, that's really, really bad for the rest of us.
H/T my brother.