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The Season of Giving
by Jack Wellman
2007-12-17 09:03:45
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For the world in general, the Christmas season or Holiday season, is the most giving time of the year. For corporations, it is no doubt the same thing. Tax write offs, as a way of reducing a company’s tax, is more common than known. The tax structure makes it necessary for some business’s to lose money on certain ventures. This is actually encouraged. One company I do cost-analysis for has a division that they intentionally want to lose money. The loss is then subtracted from the company’s profit tax.

Just as people have tax deductions, like for children or a home-related expenses, companies use the government to give them deductions back for what they legitimately did not deserve. It is outrageous to me that a company purposely loses money to, in fact, make money. This is close to stealing funds from legitimate social needs that the government can used during declared emergencies. But tax write-offs aren’t what the “govern meant“!

The greatest givers still are and I am convinced will remain to be, the private citizens. They are by far the most altruistic. Yes, they too get tax reductions by what is considered charitable donations, but their donations have direct impact and effect: at the point of the beneficiary. This is most frequently where the needs are the greatest. This is taking it to the streets, the shelters, the shut-ins…those deemed expendable by most of society. The elderly are seen as a debit to companies, corporations (as in retirees) and society, but to the citizen, a most worthy cause to support.

There was no one more cynical about the citizen than economist Arthur Brooks. He was convinced that Christians, for example, were probably the most stingy givers of all. He launched a three year research project and concluded he was wrong. His findings were published in his book “Who Really Cares? He totally changed his mind when he found out that secularists, liberals and the rich gave the absolute least.

Based upon Brooks’ findings, giant companies and CEO’s gave absolutely the least, in proportion to their income. The poorest 15% of society gave the most, again in proportion to their income. He also found that people of faith are 38% more likely to give to charity, 52% more inclined to do volunteer work, 350% more donations than the general public, 57% more likely to help a homeless person.

Do your homework and research any charitable organization before you give, since there are many wolves in sheep’s clothing. Feed the Children is one of the most highly rated based upon needs for children. Citizens who directly impact their own community with volunteering or donations more likely than not, get more for their money. Fewer middle men equals higher funds at the direct point of need. Even giving of yourself, holding the door, smiling at the clerk, giving generous tips at the restaurant, all create that positive, ripple effect of good will and cheer.

When those who have the most,
give less than those not rich.

They rob themselves of precious things,
and those who have not much.

The giver knows such fine returns,
than those who want for more.

And when given they do receive,
more than they sent the poor.

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Emanuel Paparella2007-12-17 17:52:23
That the poor give proportionally more comes as no surprise. Paradoxically, it is the rich that often are spiritually destitute and don't have the foggiest of what the concept of distributive justice is all about. Plato, who was no Christian had it on target: poverty has nothing to do with how many possessions one has but with how big one's desires are.

Sand2007-12-17 18:30:47
It is amusing how simpleminded people can quickly assume that they can psychoanalyze people on the basis of their finances. Assuredly any sensible look at a variety of people will discover all sorts of people at all sorts of income levels. There is no virtue in being poor.

Emanuel Paparella2007-12-17 20:28:58
And yet, it is not only amusing but hilarious and bizarre that the uncovenient statistics as stated above will be ignored by those who assume that they are enlightened and out of Plato's famed cave. There they are staring in their face; but the rationalist whose reality resides in his "computer of meat" (his mind)will simple-mindedly declare "so much the worse for reality."

Jack2007-12-17 21:05:27
There is no analysis on the part of deciding who gives more and why. It is just stated as simply fact and the facts speak for themselves. There is no virtue in being poor, true, but so also is there none in being rich. Virtue is independent of income but dependent upon actions. There surely is virtue in giving to those who have not (an excellent priority being children, i.e. with Feed The Children).

Sand2007-12-17 21:07:16
There are three kinds of lies: lies, damned lies, and statistics.
Benjamin Disraeli

Philosophers who rely oh generalities have no understanding that people are individuals.

Sand2007-12-17 21:32:56
In assessing virtue if a rich person donates ten thousand dollars which is a negligible portion of his income and a poor person donates ten dollars which is a sizable portion of his income, who is more virtuous? Is virtue counted by the amount of money donated or by how much the donator suffers by the donation or is there some other standard for judging the virtue of the donation?

Emanuel Paparella2007-12-17 22:38:15
For those readers who in good faith would ask for more unanbiguous, particular references to particular cases here is one particular one which has been read for some 2000 years:

"He sat down opposite the treasury and watched the people putting money into the treasury, and many rich put in a great deal. A poor widow came and put in two small coins, the equivalent of a penny. Then he called his disciples and said to them, 'I tell you solemnly, this poor widow has put more in than all who have contributed to the treasure; for they have all put in money they had over, but she from the little she had has put in everything she possessed, alls she had to live on'" (Mark 12: 41-44)

For more on the subject consult Matthew 6: 1-4 (on almsgiving); 6-24 a(on God and money); 19: 23-26 (on the danger or riches).

Sand2007-12-17 22:40:51
Which just goes to show you that it's OK to be generous but committing suicide is a sin.

Emanuel Paparella2007-12-17 23:51:54
Indeed, Plato had it right. There is poverty and then there is poverty and the most pernicious kind is the poverty that thinks itself rich.

Jack2007-12-18 01:17:17
The article wasn't addressing virtue. It addressed giving...helping others less fortunate. Giving proportionately to one's income was my point. Statistics, the mathematician would argue, are not lies or distortion...only the likelihood of such an event occuring in a given situation. If one gives more, even out of one's own poverty, they have proportionately given more than someone who is rich that gives less. This is generally speaking and of course you can not make sweeping statements that the rich or stingy or the poor are generous. It is simply that in direct proportion to their ability, some give more and others give less.

The article never stated that giving makes one more virtuous than another. One can reach their own conclusion, but it seemed intersting that the rich do give less and the poor give more, proportionately.

There is an element of truth that wealth corrupts, like power (some, no not all times) corrupts and absolute power or wealth can corrupt (again, not always...just an observation of past events).

Virtue is not a product of giving. This article never addressed that nor inferred it. A virtuous act by a person is not done so that the giver becomes more virtuos. I can not judge whether someone is virtous or not simply by what they do. That is highly subjective.

One gives freely, without expecting anything in return (like virtue)...otherwise it is not free but conditional.

Sand2007-12-18 06:44:28
Jack, the discussion has indeed wandered from your point and I concur with your observation. Unfortunately there has arisen the indication that to be wealthy is somehow evil. The point should be clear that a life only devoted to making money to the deprivation of other activities is indeed a poor use of the limited use of time allocated to each individual but merely being wealthy does not automatically indicate a culturally deprived individual and having wealth is a real advantage in being able to devote time to more interesting pursuits instead of being tied to the grind of merely trying to stay alive.

Emanuel Paparella2007-12-18 17:09:02
Indeed Jack, I concurr, it is not the giving but the way one gives, and the intention with which one gives that is the crucial distinction. But of course intentions are hard to judge and unless one is appointed a judge in a court of law or a censor in a publication, it is wiser by far to leave that to God. As you know, Christ expressed himself on the subject by dubbing those who give for mere ostentation and show hypocrites. I think he was right on target.

Sand2007-12-18 23:51:07
Which makes me wonder why the Catholic Church was so happy to sell those indulgences that so infuriated Martin Luther.

Emanuel Paparella2007-12-19 15:41:15
Dove la lingua batte il dente duole. Quite predictable indeed!

Sand2007-12-19 19:12:03
Hullu miehen puhuvat ei mittan.

Jack2007-12-20 02:25:06
Sand: Well put by you when you summed it up nicely that "a life only devoted to making money to the deprivation of other activities is indeed a poor use of the limited use of time allocated to each individual" you said it well. This I believe can also be said of the less-than-rich. You said it better than I. Thanks!

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