Are the 21st century's rich people less likely to give to charity than those of the past? Victorian paternalism may be dead, but has the desire to help the community where you grew up or where your massive company disappeared too?
In a new Fabian paper today David Blunkett argued that the rich in Britain need to donate more to charity. His suggestion is that the British rich list are not pulling their weight as donations flatline, and the number of givers decline.
The recession should not be an excuse for ignoring your obligations to help the world around you, he argues.
Is it different in America? Bill Gates and Warren Buffett say they were inspired to give away large amounts of wealth by the example of celebrated 19th philanthropists such as Andrew Carnegie.
But for those that argue that extraordinary giving is a feature of a US culture of extremes of wealth and poverty, it is worth noting that the second biggest charitable foundation in the world is the Swedish Stichting Ingka Foundation, topped only by the Gates Foundation.
Surveys show that in Britain those who have least often give a far higher proportion of their income to charity than the rich, and charities are reliant on a small core of givers.