November 20, 2004

Give Till It Hurts . . . And It Always Does

Via Pirate's Cove comes this chart, which purports to show how the inhabitants of various states rank when it comes time to give to charity. I didn't get a chance to study the methodology behind it, but I found the idea fascinating, since instead of simply adding up all the money spent and adjusting for population (which would presumably make New York and California look good) it adjusts for the actual incomes of the populations involved, creating a "generosity index" (and placing New York and California squarely in the lackluster middle of the pack).

The site provides ammo for those who maintain that "all stereotypes are true, up to a point." The list begins with two Southern states, Mississippi and Arkansas, and stays Southern and rural for a good 15 entries. The first Western state is Utah, at #8, then Idaho (# 10), Wyoming (11) and Texas (12). The first state from the upper midwest is Indiana, at #25, and the first state from New England is Maine, at #32. The bottom of the barrel (um, chart) is Rhode Island (47), New Jersey (48), and then two more New England states: blue-blooded Massachusetts (49) and New Hampshire (50).

Posted by Attila at November 20, 2004 05:18 PM


I too blogged on this. Here are my thoughts on this phenomenon (copied from my blog for your convenience):

Charity is our duty. We who have should freely share with those who need, according to how the Spirit moves us. But charity must be voluntary. If I rob from the rich to give to the poor, there is no arguing that the guy I robbed gets zero credit for having given to the poor. He didn't; he was robbed! I am not being charitable, either, though. Why should I get credit? I robbed a guy of what he had to give it to someone else. Charity is giving of what you legitimately have, not of what you steal.

"Hey -- what about Robin Hood", you ask? He didn't rob the rich -- he robbed the government robbers who'd unfairly overtaxed the poor. He was giving back to the poor their own money. It was not charity in that case, either. You could call it a service, I suppose....

In the blue states, they like to raise taxes to help the poor. Does that say anything good for the citizens of those states? NO! They are voting to take money that isn't theirs (taxes) from citizens and give it to those the government decides is needy. If you take my money in this way, I am not giving to charity, for charity involves my choice. You are not being charitible, either, for you are using money you took from me. Plus, I now have less money that I can give to charity. Bad juju all around, that.

In the red states, there is less taxation for "social programs." So, there is a greater percentage of each person's total income available for charity. Thus, their individual giving can be and is a higher percentage of total income. Good vibes, there.

Those who try to use the Christian duty to give as an argument for raising taxes to pay for social programs really bother me: They are trying to take away our ability to perform this duty when they do so. Raising taxes to take someone else's money is NOT a Christian virtue!

Posted by: Ranten.N.Raven at November 22, 2004 10:35 AM

Right. And I'm not such a libertarian that I want to go back to the type of society in which there is no safety net, any more than I want to live in a society that still has debtors' prisons. But the more charity can be handled privately, the better. There are many reasons for this, including the ones you state. One more: private/non-governmental charities have more freedom to actually make demands of their clients in terms of lifestyle changes, which--in the case of many pathologies, such as drug addiction--is exactly what's needed. Buidling a sense of personal responsibility is one way of "teaching a person to fish," and thereby treating the real problem instead of simply addressing symptoms.

Posted by: Attila Girl at November 22, 2004 10:25 PM

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