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June 03, 2005


Hi Half Sigma
You seem to have a very cynical view of charity. I think that many people gladly donate to charity without any thought of getting a reward. Sure, the very rich are really buying status by getting stuff named after them. If this really bother you, we could easily ammend the charity deduction to include only anonymous charity. Anonymity was a key aspect of my post on leveraging charity.

I like the idea of encouraging charity because charities can be more entrepeneurial in solving social problems than government can. Charity does a much better job of helping the poor in this country than does the government. Most of the people who donote to the charitible organisation that help the poor never expect to get anything in return. They just want to help others. What's wrong with that? Why shouldn't somebody like that not get the same tax break that his neighbor got for having a ridiculously large mortgage?

If anyone wants to read a contrarian view on charity, read my post on leveraging charity.

Your view of charity is misguided. An underlying assumption of the charitable deduction does not relate to donors but to the larger public purposes charitable entites assist. Charity helps to define how a society operates and also - in the best sense - creates a set of institutions that is less answerable to government. In a number of areas charitable activity presents a real alternative to government provided activities. Indeed a better view would be to make charity completely deductible - as it was for a short time before the 1986 tax revision - and recreate an above the line charitable deduction so that all taxpayers could deduct their contributions regardless of whether they use the long or short forms.

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