NY Times: Charity is Bad - It's Better to Give Your Money to Gov't

     The government knows best – especially when it comes to spending your money, according to The New York Times.


     The September 6 issue of the Times questioned the sensibilities of charitable giving by the wealthy, asserting that it hurts the government’s ability to decide who is worthy.


     “The rich are giving more to charity than ever, but people like Mr. Broad [a donor] are not the only ones footing the bill for such generosity,” wrote Stephanie Strom. “For every three dollars they give away, the federal government typically gives up a dollar or more in tax revenue, because of the charitable tax deduction and by not collecting estate taxes.”


     Rather than viewing donating to charity as a positive endeavor, the Times story portrayed it as a loss of money owed to the government.


     “The charitable deduction cost the government $40 billion in lost tax revenue last year, according to the Joint Committee on Taxation, more than the government spends altogether on managing public lands, protecting the environment and developing new energy sources,” Strom wrote.


     To back this concept of less charity and more government, the Times story referred to viewpoint of a liberal academic at Stanford University, Rob Reich.


     “Rob Reich, an assistant professor of political science and ethics in society at Stanford, goes so far as to say that the tax code promotes inequities through the breaks it provides for charitable giving,” wrote Strom.


     Reich viewed charitable giving as one of the battles of class warfare, claiming the rich are helping only the rich.


     “In effect, the government is subsidizing a system that enhances inequities between poor and wealthy public schools, Professor Reich said,” Strom wrote.


    According to the February 22 Chronicle of Philanthropy, 21 Americans gave at least $100 million to charity in 2006, nearly double the amount from 2005 (11).


    And many of these donations each year go to causes that benefit the needy. For example, Ann Lurie, president of Lurie Investments, gave $100 million on Sept. 5, 2007, to the Children’s Memorial Hospital in Chicago. The 125-year-old institution had outgrown its old facilities and is in the process of building new facilities, but needed Lurie’s donation to assure the completion of construction.


     Lurie’s gift was the largest-ever gift to a children’s hospital, according to the Chicago Sun-Times. "They needed a big donor to step up to the plate," Lurie said.


     Strom has cast charitable contributors in a negative light before. She questioned the ethics of one philanthropist’s donation to his university, and in another story painted a corporation as in bed with the conservative movement, when in reality it had given far more money to left-wing organizations.


     Charitable organizations “costing the government money” also has been a theme with The New York Times. In October 2006, the Times ran a four-day “In God’s Name” series arguing churches cheat taxpayers and cities out of money.