Danny Tyree, 10/8/2014 [Archive]

Are You Giving Enough To Charity?

Tyrades!By Danny Tyree

Was F. Scott Fitzgerald scouring through IRS data when he wrote about the differences between the very rich and the rest of us?

Using statistics from itemized returns (2006 through 2012), the Chronicle of Philanthropy (a Washington-based newspaper covering the nonprofit world) recently revealed that poor and middle-class Americans have increased their charitable giving in the wake of the Great Recession. Those making more than $200,000 annually have CUT their donations.

To be sure, the wealthy still give more in absolute terms (especially to the arts and higher education); but as a percentage of their income, they (on average) are coming up short.

One should not blame the rich for being spooked by Wall Street calamities of the previous decade. Certainly, the more affluent are entitled to maintain a "rainy day fund" -- although some of those funds could withstand anything short of the animals marching along, two by two.

Some of the wealthy blame the underprivileged for their own problems, but others pride themselves on being more in touch with the less fortunate. ("Don't criticize a man until you've walked a mile with his personal shoemaker.")

Some of the wealthy believe they are already practicing oodles of "preemptive charity." ("Face it, if I don't leave a big inheritance for my idiot children, they'll wind up wards of the state. You're welcome.")

It seems that the wealthiest take little inspiration from Spider-Man's mantra "With great power comes great responsibility." If they apply comic book philosophy at all, it's ensuring that their offshore bank accounts go "Up, up and away."

Besides comparing economic groups, the Chronicle of Philanthropy article also ranks states and cities according to their residents' rate of charitable giving.

Perhaps it's an oversimplification, but the Chronicle notes that states with the highest church attendance tend to give more. Maybe religious people see the poor and think, "There but by the grace of God go I," whereas the more secular folks may think, "Honest, I thought that homeless person would EVOLVE into something more Brooks Brothers suit-y. Live and learn."

Utah is the most giving state. The state with the lowest charitable rate is New Hampshire, which explains the new state slogan, "Live Free (Or At Negligible Cost To Me) Or Die."

Analysts have attributed New Hampshire's ranking to a combination of low church attendance, an independent streak and a tradition of self-reliance. I think it also involves an overestimation of human ingenuity. ("Your husband died unexpectedly, you have three special needs toddlers and your employer embezzled your pension? Uh, I think there's an app for that?")

Some major cities think they have already been charitable enough by referring to their professional sports teams as professional sports teams.

Many people, whatever their state or income level, have become complacent about personal charitable giving because they think solving problems is the government's responsibility. That sets up an interesting comparison. People of faith are derided for thinking that a "white- bearded old man sitting on a throne in the sky" has the answer to everyone's problems. Other people think a white-bearded Uncle SITTING ON $18 TRILLION DOLLARS IN DEBT has the answer to everyone's problems. Discuss among yourselves.

Scams, deadbeats and impractical proposals abound. But so do worthy causes, whether hospitals, theater groups or social service organizations.

Give as you've been prospered -- not "as the Release The Hounds budget permits."

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© 2014 Danny Tyree. Danny welcomes reader e-mail responses at tyreetyrades@aol.com and visits to his Facebook fan page "Tyree's Tyrades". Danny's' weekly column is distributed exclusively by Cagle Cartoons Inc. newspaper syndicate.



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