BOSTON (AP) — A new study on the generosity of Americans suggests that states with the least religious residents are also the stingiest about giving money to charity.
The funny part of the article is the defensiveness of those stingy folks and the excuses they provide for their stinginess. Read on...
Go, Protestants (and Catholics)!
Go, stingy New Englanders!
The study also found that patterns of charitable giving are colored in political reds and blues.
Of the 10 least generous states, nine voted for Democrat Barack Obama for president in the last election. By contrast, of the 10 most generous states, eight voted for Republican John McCain.
But Peter Panepento, the Chronicle’s assistant managing editor, said that political breakdown likely speaks to a state’s religious makeup, not its prevailing political views. He noted the lowest-ranked Democrat states were also among the least religious, while the top-ranked Republican states were among the more religious.
“I don’t know if I could go out and say it’s a complete Republican-Democrat difference as much as it is different religious attitudes and culture in these states,” he said.
I don't want this to become a political thread, but it seems that an individual's moral code will inform both his religiosity and his political views.
The study was based on Internal Revenue Service records of people who itemized deductions in 2008, the most recent year statistics were available.
By focusing on the percentage given to charity from discretionary income — the money left over after necessities are paid for — the study aimed to remove variables such as the differing costs of living around the country, Panepento said. The data allowed researchers to detail charitable giving down to the ZIP code, he said.
The most generous state was Utah, where residents gave 10.6 percent of their discretionary income to charity.
Go, Bible Belt!
Whoa! Those New Englanders are wicked stingy!
Here come the funny bits:
In Boston, semi-retired carpenter Stephen Cremins said the traditional New England ideal of self-sufficiency might explain the lower giving, particularly during tight times when people have less to spare.
“Charity begins at home. I’m a big believer of that, you know, you have to take care of yourself before you can help others,” Cremins said.
Um, wouldn't this apply to the folks in the more generous states (the South, Utah)? It's not like New England is the only region suffering from "tight times." And yet these folks are far more generous with their discretionary income. So Mr. Cremins points to a distinction without a difference.
The study found that in the Northeast region, including New England, Pennsylvania, New Jersey and New York, people gave 4.1 percent of their discretionary income to charity. The percentage was 5.2 percent in the Southern states, a region from Texas east to Delaware and Florida, and including most of the so-called Bible Belt.
The Bible mandates a 10 percent annual donation, or tithe, to the church, and the donation is commonly preached as a way to thank God, care for others and show faith in God’s provision. But it has a greater emphasis in some faiths.
In Mormon teachings, for instance, Latter Day Saints are required to pay a 10 percent tithe to remain church members in good standing, which helps explain the high giving rate in heavily-Mormon Utah.
And it helps explain the higher giving rate in the heavily-Protestant Southern states as well.
In other words, there appears to be a rather strong correlation between religiosity and charitable generosity.
Which is why the rest of the article starts getting a little silly.
Hmm. Mr. Wolfe was, "a member of the collective that put out the Marxist-oriented journal, Kapitalistate, whose pages featured articles by such writers as Poulantzas, Claus Offe, Ralph Miliband, and Bob Jessop. By the early 1980s, Wolfe's politics had become more centrist." He is also "a self-proclaimed atheist."
Golly! I'm sure that a somewhat-reformed Marxist atheist academic from the stingy state of Massachusetts will have an excellent explanation of why people in his neck of the woods are ... the way that they are.
Let's take a look:
Um, is there a correlation between "less religious states" and "higher taxes?"
And since when is paying taxes a matter of "willing(ness)?"
And what evidence do we have that the government "equitably distributes" tax funds?
And what evidence do we have that government usage of coercively-procured tax funds amounts to "superior benefits" as compared with charitable contributions from folks less stingy than our resident Marxist-atheist-academic?
Really? Distribution of tax funds to poor folks is based purely on need? No other factors?
What kind of a joke is this Marxist-atheist-academic?
But people in more religious states pay taxes too. They both pay taxes and make charitable contributions out of their discretionary income. So Mr. Wolfe - like Mr. Cremins before him - points to a distinction without a difference.
Anyhoo, here's the last bit:
What are "secular gifts," I wonder? What counts? Donations to food banks? Donations to community theatre? And how do we distinguish between a "secular" gift as compared to a gift given to or through a religious group?
And why, exactly, should sectarian gifts be relegated to second-class status? What is it about "secular" charitable donations that make them morally superior to donations borne of religiosity?