Friday, March 22, 2013

Rich Free Riders?

Atlantic's April edition's Money Report discusses the relatively paltry charitable giving by the rich.  It turns out that the top 20 percent of earners in the U.S. give on average 1.3% of their income to charity, which all the rest of us subsidize through the charitable gift deduction in the internal revenue code.  The bottom 20% of U.S. earners contribute on average 3.2%, more than double the rich, despite not having any tax advantage in doing so.

Top Quote:
Last year, Paul Piff, a psychologist at UC Berkeley, published research that correlated wealth with an increase in unethical behavior: “While having money doesn’t necessarily make anybody anything,” Piff later told New York magazine, “the rich are way more likely to prioritize their own self-interests above the interests of other people.” They are, he continued, “more likely to exhibit characteristics that we would stereotypically associate with, say, assholes.”
A couple of thoughts:

1.   The New York Times yesterday spotlighted a new darling of the conservative right, Benjamin Carson, a talented neurosurgeon from Johns Hopkins.  One of Carson's contentions according to the article is that churches are better mechanisms for taking care of the poor than government.  But that approach would serve to let the rich "free-ride" as to the social compact moral people join for dealing with extreme poverty in the world.

2.   As an example of such a free-rider, I previously discussed the incredible generosity of another darling of the right, Paul Ryan, here.   Paul and Janna Ryan are free to do what they want with their hard-earned money.  But save us all the "devout Catholic" claim.

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