privatizing charity
May 2, 2003 01:10 PM

A common conservative perspective is that charitable giving would increase if rich people didn't have to pay all those darned taxes. So, cut taxes and, from a trickle-down theory perspective, everyone who needs a little help still gets it. In fact, with the minds who run corporations able to contribute more to charitable organizations, everything would run better!

Leave aside the implication that monetary success is all about innate ability and has nothing to do with one's economic class of origin (an assumption that sociological study after study has proven to be flat-out untrue), and you see what so many conservatives don't admit to: wild idealism and impracticality. See, the problem is that a large proportion of those rich people are quite conservative, and also quite convinced of the whole innate ability argument. This lends them a certain perspective on charitable giving.

I started thinking about this again last night. Chris Matthews (not entirely conservative pundit and former host of Hardball, a show I never watched) was on Celebrity Jeopardy with someone from ER and Lorelai from the Gilmore Girls. They played for charities like OxFam and children's hospitals. He played for his private schools' scholarship funds - actually, for funds he himself endowed, which seemed rather cheap. While equal opportunity in schooling is damned important, I doubt that funding scholarships at private schools really bridgets that gap.

If the Chris Matthewses of the world were to take charitable policy upon themselves, would they actually give to the causes that needed it? Would they sponsor universal healthcare and education? Or would money get inequitably bestowed upon their pet schools and churches? Would money get distributed at all if it were left up to individuals to decide?

The tax-and-spend approach to government may result in misguided funding, may glaze over areas that need it, but if you think that privatization on that count will solve those problems, you're dreaming.

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your wicked thoughts

That trickle down doesn't seem to make sense. Don't a lot of uber-rich people give away money to get out of paying taxes? Or to keep their kids from paying taxes?

these are the thoughts of Roni on May 2, 2003 04:05 PM

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