Searching for the Moon

Shannon Clark's rambles and conversations on food, geeks, San Francisco and occasionally economics

Lead21 Blog: The Selfish party?

Posted by shannonclark on November 15, 2004

Lead21 Blog: The Selfish party?: “But note that there are issues both with the study itself (see their own site for a few, but also look online for more analysis) – specifically they only look at itemized tax returns, but then make assumptions about the levels of giving by non-itemizing taxpayers and divide by the total number of taxpayers. The assumptions seem extremely aggressive, but that is not the only problem with the study.
The other problem is that by using ONLY the IRS definitions for ‘charitable giving’ the study gives very high priority to donations to religious groups (mostly churches) which I think are 90% or more of the itemized tax donations in many of the red states (need to find the source for this, but I have seen it and intuitively it makes sense).
Leaving aside personal opinions about the ‘charity’ of many religious groups (certainly I personally many questionable – and past tax scandals, lavish lifestyles of some leaders, and heavy political activism are not quite what many people first think of as ‘charity’) this measure does not capture 1000’s of hours of volunteer labor by many – red and blue states alike.
A final point that some have made is that on a state-by-state basis local taxes and the level of support given by that state to the most unfortunate in society differs quite widely. In a state such as Hawaii which provides universal health care, many reasonable people might conclude that if they want 10% of their income to go to charitible causes, that a portion of that might be ‘covered’ by state income taxes. Again something that reasonable people can disagree with – but there is a noticible difference in local state taxes and social support between ‘red’ and ‘blue’ states (in no small part because generally speaking, ‘blue’ states tend to be blue by the effect of large, urban areas – which tend as well to value and emphasize government support).

Personally I would find most urban areas’ demands for public support very reasonable – and would further look for greater support for public transit and less for additional highways/roadways; more support for social safety nets such as early childhood learning and healthcare and less support for agricultural subsidies. But that’s my, admittedly progressive (if centrist) perspective”

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