Sunday, November 16, 2008

Is Charitable Giving On The Rise?

In today's day and age, politicians are preaching that it is patriotic to pay taxes and that "rich people" have an obligation tho share their wealth. However, I believe that that true charitable giving only exists when it is done voluntarily. Today's forced charities, through taxpayer financed social programs, are crowding out many genuine charities from helping people on a voluntary and personal level. Forced giving, through high taxes and government social programs, embitters both the givers and receivers, who feel resentment for the other group.

I have heard statistics that claim that charitable giving has increased over the past 40 years, this does not seem to ring true based on my personal observations. Statistics can be manipulated and used by people who do not debate in good faith, because they know that their statistics have loopholes.

The following are examples of voluntary charitable contributions that I witnessed 30 years ago. These examples may not have not shown up on any tax returns or ledger sheets, and may not be included in statistical studies on charitable giving. I can not prove or disprove their affect on the "charitable giving" statistics, however, they are surly omitted.

Thirty years ago,I spent a year in The Dalles Oregon, working on a farm. The majority of local people attended church every Sunday. The tradition of tithing was often discussed, and I believe that most parishioners practiced this tradition. This tradition requires that congregants donate 1/10th of their income to the church. This charitable giving is provable by tax records in many cases. However, many people believe that charitable giving should be a completely selfless act. These people choose not to report their donations on their tax returns, because they want their act of charitable giving be untarnished by benefiting from a tax deduction.

Also, I personally witnessed several physical acts of charity that were not likely to show up on a tax form or ledger sheet. One example is when the Church Pastor asked Charlie S (the farm owner that I was living with), if he could help out a homeless trio (a husband, wife and brother). These people were drifters, who's junk car finally "died" in The Dalles. They had no where to live and no money. They went to local Churches daily for food and clothing.

Mr. S put this trio up in a vacant "pickers shack" on his farm, equipped with 2 beds, a wood burning stove and a refrigerator. Mr. S offered them work, not because he was shorthanded, but because he wanted to help them get on their feet by their own efforts. The wages that Mr. S payed this trio did not show up anywhere as a charitable contribution, but that is exactly what they were.

Another example of heartfelt yet unreported charitable giving, was when Mr. S's brother, who was an accountant, flied my delinquent tax return for me without charge. I told him that I did not file my tax return for the previous 2 years, but I was sure that I was entitled to a refund. Mr. S's brother did my taxes for me, without asking for any compensation. Several weeks later I received a nice check from the IRS.

Another example is that their "Church's School" wanted to construct a running track around their ball field. The most expensive cost of its construction was the several hundred tons of red clay required to pave the track with. The Church found a clay Quarry that was willing to donate the quantity of clay needed, but the Church would have to find a way to transport it. The pastor called many of his parishioners who owned various medium and heavy duty trucks, capable of picking up and delivering small quantities of clay. Mr. S agreed to help the Church transport the clay.

Mr. S owned a small dump truck that he used for picking up grain and seeds and delivering manure. I "rode shotgun" with Mr. S's son when we spent an entire Saturday, making several trips, to and from, the far off quarry. We could only haul about 7 tons on each load. Mr. S spent over a hundred of dollars on fuel and we had a tire blow out on our last load, which cost hundreds to repair. I don't know for sure, but I doubt that Charlie S claimed these expenses as charitable donations. We were not alone, there was a whole fleet of trucks doing the same thing as us. By the end of the Day, the clay had been delivered.

On the other hand, some of today's charities are scams, that spend a much of their income on salaries and operating costs. Other charities are little more than political organizations, that are pushing a political agenda. ACORN comes to mind. There are also, non-profit organizations that are a front for terrorist organizations. They funnel funds to terrorists overseas. Donations to these organizations, show up as charitable donations in statistical reports. There are also many charitable contributions to causes that claim to be fighting global warming. Global warming is a threat that is not proved to be real, yet these donations show up as charitable contributions, even though their benefit is questionable. Also, many people donate unusable items, such as broken down cars, trucks and boats, and torn clothing or worn out underwear, for the express purpose of receiving a tax deduction. I would not consider these examples as charity, but they are included in statistics.

I believe that voluntary charity is beneficial to both the giver and the receiver. Charitable giving uplifts one's spirit and strengthens one's soul. When the relationship between giver and receiver is personal and genuine, everyone benefits.

1 comment:

Ben said...

This comment has nothing to do with the point of your story, but are you sure you have the right units of clay? Can a small dump truck carry 7 tons at a time?