Friday Links

  • On charitable giving in America: “In 2011, the wealthiest Americans—those with earnings in the top 20 percent—contributed on average 1.3 percent of their income to charity. By comparison, Americans at the base of the income pyramid—those in the bottom 20 percent—donated 3.2 percent of their income. The relative generosity of lower-income Americans is accentuated by the fact that, unlike middle-class and wealthy donors, most of them cannot take advantage of the charitable tax deduction, because they do not itemize deductions on their income-tax returns.” The author brings up  a few possibilities – the wealthier are less prosocial, being wealthy is antithetical to being generous, etc. – that don’t ring especially true to me. My intuition says that the disparity has more to do with absolute giving vs. relative giving; i.e., for the wealthiest Americans, $50,000 – whether it’s 1% or 10% of their income – still sounds like a lot. Am interested in finding more research about it, though
  •  Peace Corps applications hit a 10-year low. There are some obvious reasons – the economy is picking up, students are leaving college with ~$27k (that’s near the average, I think) in student loans and want to make money, etc. – but, after seeing the Peace Corps in action here, it seems that if one is interested in “doing good” (however that is defined), there may be a more effective route, for a variety of reasons. One less-obvious reason for this trend may be that the social enterprise sector has exploded and, given the option between the two, graduates may think that their effect on a community would be greater through that type of organization.
  • President Obama’s speech in Israel is worth reading, though I don’t yet have a fully-formed opinion on it: “Ben-Gurion once said in Israel, in order to be a realist, you must believe in miracles. Sometimes the greatest miracle is recognizing that the world can change. That’s a lesson that the world learned from the Jewish people.”

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