Proud to Be an American

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The Week magazine reports a fact that made me swell with pride at how Americans truly understand the meaning of real civic virtue, in an article on Warren Buffett's giveaway of much of his fortune to the Gates Foundation:

The vast majority of Americans make some contribution to the Red Cross, Salvation Army, American Cancer Society, local church, or other charitable organization every year; in fact, more Americans contribute to charities than bother to vote.

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  1. Plus the fact that Americans give more to charity, proportionately and in absolute amount, than any other nation. [A fact which my smug Canadian countrymen usually overlook.]

    May the metaphysical abstraction of your choice bless America.

  2. Canadians hate it when you mention that Aresen. So do Europeans. Frankly, I think the political process and government is completly overrated and am proud to live in a country where people are more interested in giving to charity than they are in voting.

  3. …American government welfare spending easily exceeds a Trillion $$ per year.

    All that money ultimately comes from private citizens.

    Do Americans get any accounting-credit & kudos for those massive transfers to the ‘needy’ ??

  4. McCorsin

    I think the point here is that Americans VOLUNTARILY donate to others, not how much their government (or, for comparison, the governments of other nations) extorts from them for “social needs.”

    I suspect (but have absolutely no evidence for it) that government funded “caring for the poor” gets in the way of real charity.

  5. Canadians hate it when you mention that Aresen. So do Europeans. Frankly, I think the political process and government is completly overrated and am proud to live in a country where people are more interested in giving to charity than they are in voting.

    Of course, Americans hate it when it’s pointed out that western Europeans generally have less poverty, fewer people in jail and higher standards of living even though they pay more in taxes and work less than we do.

    I mean, sorry to break up the self-congratulations here but it seems pretty obvious that American charity isn’t doing much to solve most of our social problems.

  6. Canadians hate it when you mention that Aresen. So do Europeans. Frankly, I think the political process and government is completly overrated and am proud to live in a country where people are more interested in giving to charity than they are in voting.

    Of course, Americans hate it when it’s pointed out that Europeans generally have less poverty, people in jail and higher life quality even though they pay more in taxes.

    I mean, sorry to break up the self-congratulations here but it seems pretty obvious that American charity isn’t doing much to solve most of our social problems.

  7. Dan T., what are you talking about?

    Take a look at the graph:
    http://www.tcsdaily.com/article.aspx?id=082806E

    I don’t think I need to say anything else.

  8. Dan T.

    Only a person who does not know much about Europe would think they do not have most of the same social problems that we do. Likewise Canada.

    The only difference is the Euros hide their poor where the tourists won’t see them.

  9. Dan T,

    I lived in Germany for over a year in 2003-4 and I can tell you that my German friends, all of whom had college degrees and good jobs, did not have the same standard of living my middle middle class non-college educated family has back in the USA. None of my German friends lived in anything larger than a small flat. None of the owned anything other than bare bones car, if they owned one. None of them had to money to take even a short vacation. None owned an electronic gadget beyond a TV and a cellphone. Two of them were able to get their VISAs to come work in America and immediately began living a much higher standard of living and it wasn’t becuase they moved to a cheap section of America. They moved to L.A. and San Fran respectively. Until I actually lived in Europe, versus being a tourist, I had no clue how wealthy the U.S. is compared to Europe; not just in terms of money but in the abilty to translate that money into things, like a nice place to live, a car, etc.. American lefties love to claim how much better off Europeans are than Americans, but it is just not true.

  10. Another thing that I wonder about: should donations to a church that one attends be considered charitable? While it?s true that most churches engage in charitable works, they are not true charities themselves because usually the people who are donating to them are receiving benefits from them (basically, they?re paying the bills that allow the church to function).

  11. American lefties love to claim how much better off Europeans are than Americans, but it is just not true.

    Admittedly, it?s a pretty complex subject and thus tricky to compare ?standards of living? between America and Europe. I wouldn?t be at all surprised if your anecdotal evidence that middle-class Americans own more stuff than middle-class Germans is basically true. On the other hand, according to most statistics I?ve seen, there are a lot of things that they do better than we do. Check our prison population or life expectancies or murder rate versus Sweeden?s, for example.

    What?s interesting is that when we use the government to combat a social problem, anything less than complete success is derided as failure. But we don?t hold private charitable giving to the same harsh standards, even though it obviously leaves much to be desired as well.

  12. Of course, Americans hate it when it’s pointed out that western Europeans generally have less poverty, fewer people in jail and higher standards of living even though they pay more in taxes and work less than we do.

    The basic rules here Dan T are straight forward. If you wish to make a claim like this, then provide a link to some study by some reputable source. Or just shut the fuck up.

  13. Dan T.

    Most churches do a lot of good work to help people in need. Granted, there is a lot of BS; giant stadium sized churches and the like. But, I think that there is still enough good work to call churches charities.

  14. I second John’s comments.

    Try going to a grocery store or a regular clothing store (i.e. not a high-fashion store) in Europe & you’ll wonder how people can afford to live. Car prices are much higher than in North America, even for European models. House prices are in the Bay Area/Los Angeles/NYC range, even in ‘depressed’ areas. [Rent can be lower, IF you can get into a rent-controlled private apartment where the landlord is basically a prisoner of his tenants. The government owned apartments are tacky and depressing, at best.]

  15. Dan T,

    We do have a lot of social problems that Europe doesn’t have, although crime statistics in most European cities are higher than in U.S. cities. Of course the U.S. has spent trillions trying to solve their social problems to no avail. Ultimately, things are just easier if you have a homogeneous, well educated society. The U.S. does not have that. The U.S. has a heterogeneous society of immigrants. When you are the destination of choice for the world’s and particularly Latin America’s poor and desperate and you have inherited a legacy of 300 years of slavery and Jim Crow, you are going to have some social problems. Of course as Europe becomes less homogenous and the destination of choice for the poor and desperate from the Middle-East and Eastern Europe, its social problems are rising accordingly.

  16. Dan T,

    The idea of giving to a church that gives something back to you brings up an interesting (to me, at least) point: I recall reading recently that much of the “wealthy” folks donations in the last few years have gone to things like the opera and art museums. While it’s possible that “normal” folks will go to these places, the more likely case is that the “rich” will be wined and dined as benifactors for things only they will attend.

    I’m reminded of the museum scenes from the new “Thomas Crown Affair”, where the rich hobknob with other rich while donating. Nothing wrong with that, but I don’t seem them partying at the homeless shelter. Just saying.

  17. Dan T,

    The idea of giving to a church that gives something back to you brings up an interesting (to me, at least) point: I recall reading recently that much of the “wealthy” folks donations in the last few years have gone to things like the opera and art museums. While it’s possible that “normal” folks will go to these places, the more likely case is that the “rich” will be wined and dined as benifactors for things only they will attend.

    I’m reminded of the museum scenes from the new “Thomas Crown Affair”, where the rich hobknob with other rich while donating. Nothing wrong with that, but I don’t seem them partying at the homeless shelter. Just saying.

  18. Check our prison population or life expectancies or murder rate versus Sweeden?s, for example.

    The DOJ reports that in 2004 55% of the federal prison population and 21% of the state prison population was there for drug charges. (See how it’s done Dan T)

    Higher prison populations in the US just indicates the futility of the War on Drugs, not any superiority of the Europeon economic model

  19. I participated in a workplace charity drive recently. I was able to pick the organizations that got my money, otherwise I wouldn’t have given because some of the charities I find repugnant.
    Would paying taxes be less onorous if we could select which department got the money? I might choose to put money into defense and transportation, my neighbor might prefer to direct his money to welfare. Even if it ended up making no difference in the distribution of taxes it would still allow people with strong beliefs to pay taxes with a clear conscience.
    Maybe the IRS could learn something from the private charities, allowing choice makes a difference.

  20. I don’t know, i mean i don’t so much as donate to the salvation army but as to use them as a free dump…not to say that the stuff i give them is worthless, more like it is worthless to me.

    anyway in all honesty i could not call that transaction a donation.

  21. I have lived in Japan, and I can say without a doubt that I am far richer here in the US than my former Japanese colleagues (same education, etc) are in Japan. My starting salary after leaving Japan at my first “real” job was about 20% higher than what my Japanese friends would be offered, after you include their housing subsidies. Taxes are about the same. In addition, my living expenses, especially food, housing, and my automobile, are substantially lower. I also work fewer hours to achieve this standard of living.

    There are many wonderful things about Japan, but we are materially richer than they are by a fairly wide margin.

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