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12-09-2010, 08:52 AM   #1
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Giving Pledge vs. Progressive Taxes

17 more billionaires joined the Bill Gates and Warren Buffet led initiative to get billionaires to give away more than half of their wealth today. That brings the total up to 57/400 billionaires who have taken this pledge.

What do ya'll think is more efficient and effective for putting large amounts of money to work for society, them directing their giving through philanthropic foundations or government directing it after getting it through income or estate taxes?

12-09-2010, 09:04 AM   #2
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QuoteOriginally posted by mikemike Quote
17 more billionaires joined the Bill Gates and Warren Buffet led initiative to get billionaires to give away more than half of their wealth today. That brings the total up to 57/400 billionaires who have taken this pledge.

What do ya'll think is more efficient and effective for putting large amounts of money to work for society, them directing their giving through philanthropic foundations or government directing it after getting it through income or estate taxes?
Two guys being philanthropic does not make up for demands to make a system that increasingly- favors the greediest and least responsible to take the most they can at whatever cost to the world, then say, 'Well, I might give back whatever I please.'

Mind you, such philanthropy *can* be powerful, (or used to favor certain kinds of people over others) but as a *substitute* for the government's social obligations, it's no *replacement.* The idea of 'privatized charity replacing big government' is ridiculous on the face of it. Like Bush's version of 'faith based initiatives:' cutting back social services and then handing a little of it back to churches to use to convert people.

Even *with* what there is of social supports in the nation, even those charitable works types in religious who aren't spending most of their efforts on converting people when they're down, well, they're overwhelmed as it is. They *couldn't* take over for the destitution out there before the middle and working classes started getting so obviously downwardly-mobile, and if they *did,* they'd be just as 'big and bureaucratic' as government, just with more of an agenda about them. (Among those agendas is unfortunately a big dynamic of, 'We have to damn the world in order to save it,' and if you're worried about corruption and waste when it comes to charities and social services, well, corruption goes where the money and power is. Further shifting what money and power there is in these things to the already-rich and powerful wouldn't change that: in fact, if you could make that happen, you'd quickly find you more or less had to hire mostly same darn people to *do* it. )

Private philanthropic foundations can do some more *targeted* things, at their best. They can put a lot of capital in particular places at once, and hopefully build things that are of benefit. But they can't replace the social safety net or save the economy from the very stratification some use those foundations to justify.

If *I* were filthy rich, I'd darn well use it that way, but I wouldn't say it justified economic injustices just cause a few take that option. You probably wouldn't like some of the things I'd do with that, though (I doubt I'd consider it particularly moral or worthwhile to accumulate so much excess in the first place, but if I did, it'd at least be darn entertaining. ) I'm sure not appreciative of what the Koch brothers do with their money, either.

Last edited by Ratmagiclady; 12-09-2010 at 09:33 AM.
12-09-2010, 09:17 AM   #3
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QuoteOriginally posted by mikemike Quote
What do ya'll think is more efficient and effective for putting large amounts of money to work for society, them directing their giving through philanthropic foundations or government directing it after getting it through income or estate taxes?
Well, certainly no political hay will be made when the Gates foundation spends its money outside the USA... whereas the government spending so invariably becomes an issue

Can you tell me how many of these billionaires relied and were enabled by the lower tax rates of the past decade -- i.e. if your thesis is that tax cuts allowed them to accumulate their billions and now to spend these more wisely and effectively than any government can.

I would wager that these folks would have just about as many billions in a higher tax rate environment, and would be equally unlikely to spend it all, and indeed would be doing the philantrophy thing regardless.

Besides, if the Government did it, whose name would go on the new wing on the art museum, or the new science building at the alma mater?
12-09-2010, 09:54 AM   #4
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QuoteOriginally posted by mikemike Quote
17 more billionaires joined the Bill Gates and Warren Buffet led initiative to get billionaires to give away more than half of their wealth today. That brings the total up to 57/400 billionaires who have taken this pledge.

What do ya'll think is more efficient and effective for putting large amounts of money to work for society, them directing their giving through philanthropic foundations or government directing it after getting it through income or estate taxes?
Progressive taxes with higher marginal taxes actually make giving wealth away more attractive, at least to the extent it is deductible. But there is no clear answer to your question. Large charities have their inefficiencies and corruptions as well. For example, I question the social benefit of much of what is given to church-related "charities."

12-09-2010, 09:57 AM   #5
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QuoteOriginally posted by Nesster Quote
Besides, if the Government did it, whose name would go on the new wing on the art museum, or the new science building at the alma mater?
The senator who scored the earmark.
12-09-2010, 10:03 AM   #6
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QuoteOriginally posted by GeneV Quote
Progressive taxes with higher marginal taxes actually make giving wealth away more attractive, at least to the extent it is deductible. But there is no clear answer to your question. Large charities have their inefficiencies and corruptions as well. For example, I question the social benefit of much of what is given to church-related "charities."
LOL, while we're at it, for accountants and tax lawyers, higher marginal tax rates and estate taxes are definitely employment generators. Apart from the crazies, most of the truly wealthy do estate planning, for example, to minimize tax exposure. This can be a good thing when it results in locking up large sums - these are the stable pools of capital we need - instead of ending up up the nostrils of the heirs or in the pockets of con men.
12-09-2010, 10:10 AM   #7
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QuoteOriginally posted by GeneV Quote
Progressive taxes with higher marginal taxes actually make giving wealth away more attractive, at least to the extent it is deductible. But there is no clear answer to your question. Large charities have their inefficiencies and corruptions as well. For example, I question the social benefit of much of what is given to church-related "charities."
Gene, in our immediate area, we have some of the most abject poverty in the nation. They are Indian reservations. In addition to that, there are the usual poverty issues that any other community might have. In Pierre, a city of only 13,000, is the First United Methodist Church. 1UMC, like all churches, claims to be in the charity business. A couple of years ago they spent $240,000.00 to have the stained glass windows cleaned, and last year spent over 4 million dollars for an addition to the church which includes a carpeted full size basketball court.
When I try and do the math on how many families that money could have provided housing, food, and job skills training for, I get a headache. I don't attend every week like my wife does, but on the occasions that I do, I let the collection plate go on by. There are other charities that I am certain make better use of my donations.
12-09-2010, 10:32 AM   #8
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This is a bit OT but what charities do you support and why?

My wife and I directed all of our charitable giving this year to the Red Cross after the Haiti Earthquake. We usually support the the Lake Ponchartrain Basin Foundation (a non-profit dedicated to healthy local wetland ecosystems), the local SPCA, Bridge House (a local charity dealing with homelessness and drug addicts), WWNO (local NPR station), our alma mater, and a small amount to United Way. I support these groups because I think they are well lead and do the most effective job of dealing with issues that I care deeply about.

12-09-2010, 11:05 AM   #9
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We give to St. Jude pediatric cancer hospital, American Friends Service Committee (and I donate stuff to the local Friends meeting sales), a little to FINCA, CARE, and the local animal shelters, and I'm thinking I still have a monthly going to PBS. And when there's stuff like Haiti we give to Red Cross etc. The local volunteer amubulance and soup kitchen. Having kid #3 in college we've given up on giving to the alma ma's...
12-09-2010, 11:26 AM   #10
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QuoteOriginally posted by mikemike Quote
This is a bit OT but what charities do you support and why?
Most of my charitable giving goes to a local rent assistance charity which is affiliated with Catholic Charities and to the Roadrunner Food Bank. The reason is for karma replenishment, because my job often has me evicting people, and I want to see them get a home and not be hungry. These are the only two charities where my money will definitely go for that purpose. We also give to the local public radio station, various disease research foundations, animal shelters, etc.
12-09-2010, 11:33 AM   #11
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QuoteOriginally posted by Parallax Quote
Gene, in our immediate area, we have some of the most abject poverty in the nation. They are Indian reservations. In addition to that, there are the usual poverty issues that any other community might have. In Pierre, a city of only 13,000, is the First United Methodist Church. 1UMC, like all churches, claims to be in the charity business. A couple of years ago they spent $240,000.00 to have the stained glass windows cleaned, and last year spent over 4 million dollars for an addition to the church which includes a carpeted full size basketball court.
When I try and do the math on how many families that money could have provided housing, food, and job skills training for, I get a headache. I don't attend every week like my wife does, but on the occasions that I do, I let the collection plate go on by. There are other charities that I am certain make better use of my donations.
Funny it should be that church, because my annoyance with church giving originated with my old United Methodist Church back in Texas (where my mother still attends) which also built a gym fit for a king. It has evolved from a small community church when I was growing up to a genuine megachurch. The Jewish Federation did the same thing here, with a community center that is the possibly the best fitness facility in the city, built with tax-exempt dollars, so my wife and I can both share the annoyance with our respective faiths.
12-09-2010, 01:50 PM   #12
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Well, for me personally, there honestly isn't often much to spare for 'Donations' to charities, generally it's out of 'What's in my pocket right now' (Haven't even been able to keep up a token forum membership here (Coming soon, Adam! )


But there's been some additional expenses lately, which, the sooner dealt with, the sooner I can put something into trying to *make* a little extra. Prime example of how regressive taxation and social benefit cuts suppress economies and tend to 'keep people down' even just as consumers with no particular plan, but especially if you're trying to better the situation: Trying to scrape things up in month-to-month fashion is something that can hold up the works for months, (while most of your resources go to rent and bills and staying alive for every month of that time, more paying upward and out, not into the community,) especially if there are factors like more sales taxes and no cost-of-living adjustments putting a bit more of the squeeze on... It sure doesn't *help* private charities or local business. Kind of wouldn't make too much sense to turn around and give a lot away, but if things get even ten bucks a month more expensive, then that's often enough to cut donations and a lot of other economic activity out of the budget. Direct effects when there isn't much margin.

Anyway, it's usually about, well, helping the homeless directly, putting a buck or two in a donation drive, (Usually smaller local things like battered womens' and animal shelters, civil rights groups, all too often legal defense funds when someone takes exception to someone of my religion having a space, etc, (Yay, pure mean-spirited repression: *that's* great for the needy of the world, isn't it? I'm sure MSF and Habitat and conservation funds really appreciate all those lawyers getting the tax cuts off the millions they make off people having to defend their civil rights from the intolerant all the time. Not to mention all the resources a lot of 'faith based' groups spend on *destructive* things like that instead of doing anything else. Yay 'Compassionate Conservatism.' Phhhhbt. But in general, there's a certain amount of 'help take care of your own, cause a lot of people don't *like* us,' about it. Hence, a bit here, a bit there, etc. I assure you, if the GOP had their way on everything in this country, it sure wouldn't make more of charitable donors out of a lot of people: it'd surely take *me* out of the 'occasional small donor' category and put me in the 'deteriorating charity recipient' category pretty darn fast. )

Between sweetie and I, it's usually aforementioned Medicine Sans Frontiers, various land trusts, public broadcasting, (however much that counts as 'charity') some membership-based environmental science groups and conservation foundations, aforementioned bits here and there. With all that's going on (and not going on) in the world, you've kind of got to do *something,* after all.
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