Culture, Science & Faith

Generosity Thrives in America

We lead the world in charitable giving, despite the burden of government.

Robin Smith · Jan. 25, 2016

Generosity, according to Merriam-Webster, is “the quality of being kind, understanding, and not selfish: the quality of being generous; especially: willingness to give money and other valuable things to others.” According to the Philanthropy Roundtable’s annual publication, the people of the United States of America have been proven to be the most generous citizens in the world.

Don’t misread that. It’s the people of America, not the federal government, who demonstrate the virtues of charity and benevolence. Despite the best efforts of both secularists and big government types to replace critical institutions of our nation with the State, “we the people” have demonstrated our intrinsic values are, indeed, to give to worthy causes and cases.

Let’s look at the numbers.

The Roundtable’s exhaustive research marked the charitable private giving of the United States’ population at 2.1%, almost double that of the second-place nation, Canada. The organization’s data explode the myth of the angry Left who portray the industrious, working population possessing any sort of wealth created outside of some government program to be based on greed, theft and manipulation. Some 81% of all charitable giving comes from individuals, either living or through their requests at death.

Impossible, you say? We’re supposed to believe that if it weren’t for the nanny state and its countless agencies of entitlements administered by frequently corrupt bureaucrats, pandemic greed would prevail.

Even “greedy” corporations account for 5% of charitable giving while just 15% of all U.S. charitable giving comes from foundations whose existence is devoted to such philanthropic use of wealth.

The Philanthropy Roundtable report poses a huge problem to the failed narrative of the political Left. “Progressives” argue that only through the confiscation of earnings and property from those who produce to give to those who do not, do those in need stand a chance of survival. They of course don’t put it this way, but Frederic Bastiat once termed it legal plunder. You see, in reality, not only do individuals overwhelmingly give, but rich individuals give most.

Of households that earn more than $162,501, 93% give annually to charity. The Almanac of American Philanthropy records that the “wealthiest 1.4% of Americans are responsible for 86% of charitable donations made at death” and that a full one-third of all charitable giving is from that demonized “top 1%” of earners.

So, “The rich should give more,” say leftists who spin class warfare like silk. And, the rich do give more … both voluntarily and by having the highest percentage confiscated in taxes.

Not only are Americans generous with their treasure, but also their time and talent. The Roundtable chronicles the annual number of volunteers at 63 million individuals, comprising 26% of the adult population in the U.S.

America is home to a spirited people who, at their core, have an internal hope anchored to the truth that springs eternal in a Law of Nature: The Law of the Harvest. Essentially, one reaps what is sown, later than it’s sown, usually in larger proportion to the seeds planted and of like kind.

Logic, nature and nature’s God are correct. The Law of the Harvest, when observed, proves accurate and effective. This guiding principle could be even greater in its impact in our culture if the government stopped its excessive taxation and regulation, both of which only serve to reduce the money available for charity.

Interestingly, the federal government, especially in the control of the socialist Left, sees no problem with income tax rates of 25%, 28%, 33%, 35% and the top rate of 39.6%, which takes 40 cents of the dollar from top-earners. Yet this same group sneers in condescension to those of faith who devote 10% of their income to charity to serve others.

What a contrast. In the hearts and minds of the “progressive” political Left, confiscatory tax policy is redefined as charity, while authentic charity and sacrificial giving is diminished and mocked.

The Philanthropy Roundtable sides with individual charity by declaring, “Philanthropy is not interchangeable with government spending.” Expanding the contrast, the organization notes that charitable giving is “inventive, nimble, individualized, pluralistic, efficient and transformative.” The French political economist Bastiat would concur in more concise terms. His argument was that the government practices “false philanthropy” that violates Liberty and personal property rights.

So, who do you trust most with your money and its ability to actually serve the poor — politicians feeding the IRS and the U.S. Treasury with your money, or individuals making the choice to give closest to the need?

We suppose the best news is that the virtue of charity thrives despite the oppressive policies of the Left, because it comes from the hearts of the people of our great nation.

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