When It Comes To Charity, Poor Give Too Much, Get Too Little

One reason rich people stay rich is they don’t go wasting it on silly things such as charity. Likewise, a factor that keeps poor people poor is they give too much of what little they have away.

Hey, don’t yell at me. These are just the findings of a McClatchy Newspapers story. Reporter Frank Greve sifted through data from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics data and found that the poorest Ameicans — those who make an average of $10,531 — gave the largest percentage of their income (4.3 percent) to charity. Meanwhile, the wealthiest group — which make an average of $158,888 — give only 2.1 percent of what they make.

“The lowest-income fifth (of the population) always give at more than their capacity,” said Virginia Hodgkinson, former vice president for research at Independent Sector, a Washington-based association of major nonprofit agencies. “The next two-fifths give at capacity, and those above that are capable of giving two or three times more than they give.”

Indeed, the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics’ latest survey of consumer expenditure found that the poorest fifth of America’s households contributed an average of 4.3 percent of their incomes to charitable organizations in 2007. The richest fifth gave at less than half that rate, 2.1 percent.

The figures probably undercount remittances by legal and illegal immigrants to family and friends back home, a multibillion-dollar outlay to which the poor contribute disproportionally.

None of the middle fifths of America’s households, in contrast, gave away as much as 3 percent of their incomes.

“As a rule, people who have money don’t know people in need,” said Tanya Davis, 40, a laid-off security guard and single mother.

You hear that, needy? Just sign up for country club memberships, rub elbows with the moneybags, who will finally have po’ folk as a pals, and everyone wins!

America’s poor are its most generous givers [McClatchy Newspapers, via Arizona Daily Star>/a>]


Edit Your Comment

  1. lincolnparadox says:

    Perhaps the Trois Coleurs should fly in North America?

  2. MostlyHarmless says:

    Thats almost kind of sad.
    On my part, I give to charities on special festivals, or when something really good happens to me. The amounts vary ofcourse, depending on my capacity at that time.

    I give because it makes me feel better about having helped someone, and just in case karma exists, I’ll prolly get more back in different forms :P

    But I still dont think I donated like 4% of my income last year. More like 3%… Though admittedly, it was a financially difficult time in general. I did help out at the soup kitchens and made food donations though.

    • MostlyHarmless says:


      Worth noting:
      4.3% of 10531 = 452.83
      2.1% of 158888 = 3336.64

      So probably the rich people look at their statements, and say, “wow i gave over 3000 bucks this year… thats three times what i made in one semester in college. i guess it is a fair enough donation.”

      Also I have noticed that people who rose up the ranks from being poor to being rich thanks to hard work tend to donate more than people who have been more or less wealthy all along.

      • bohemian says:

        @Lucifer_Cat: I would love to see these numbers also matched against the level of church going by the people involved. There is already plenty of evidence that the lower economically people are the higher the percentage of people who go to church more often or are involved in more fundamentalist types of religion. So if you matched the two sets of statistics those giving money to a church they attend is recorded as giving to charity.

        Money to skeezy preacher who uses it to buy a new BMW or continue building his religious empire.
        Money directly to the food pantry.

        One is more of an actual charity contribution than the other. Sure there are still churches that do charitable work, but there are plenty who see charitable as expanding their empire, building a gym for the parishoners etc.

        • stopNgoBeau says:

          @bohemian: I will admit that “expanding their empire” isn’t always a charitable way of spending money with “those” churches (we all know which ones we are talking about) but I have to say gyms are good things. Gyms are used by all sorts of good puposes: after school activities, youth leagues that keep kids off the streets and out of trouble, meeting places for AA and NA, etc.

  3. thelushie says:

    This is actually old news and something that I has been circulating for years.

  4. fantomesq says:

    This is an exercise in small numbers, with statistical and journalistic spin. 4.3% of $10,531 is $452.83 whereas 2.1% of $158,888 is $3336.65. You could just as easily state that the wealthy donate to charities at more than 7 times the rate than the poor… but since there are lies, damn lies and then statistics, one has to ask how they defined charity and how complete are the numbers?

    And what’s with the socialistic spin that the wealthy are duty bound to part with more of their money?

    • so_gracefully says:

      @fantomesq: Um. I don’t think it’s “socialistic” to think that all humans deserve and are worth the same, and that none should die of hunger because one is too busy swimming in his huge vat of gold coins a la Scrooge McDuck.

      • fantomesq says:

        @so_gracefully: It is socialistic to hamstring questionable statistics and word spin into guilting those who are already paying 7 times more into paying yet even more. It is socialistic to tell the “rich” what they ought to be spending their own money on and think that anyone else ‘deserves’ their money. You wouldn’t accept anyone second-guessing how you spend your money…

      • William Brinkman says:

        @so_gracefully: God, could you beat his post with the hyperbole stick any more?

    • floraposte says:

      @fantomesq: Actually, you couldn’t say that, because the rate is less than half.
      I do think the article gets a little muddy because it talks about giving to people as well as institutions, when the BLS statistics would seem to be focusing strictly on institutions, and that sending money to family seems to be included for the low end but not above it.

      However, I think there’s a reasonable and legitimate point here, and I think the tie the article makes to greater giving tendencies in the religiously observant is a pretty established one (and I’m an atheist, so I’ve got no dog in this fight), as is the greater number of observers in lower-income communities. What’s more, they’re unlikely to be able to benefit from tax deductions for their donations, so it matters even more to their expenses. I think the lower income may not be the most salient characteristic in high-percentage givers, but I still think it’s significant that such givers aren’t halted by the fact that they have little money and that their giving will bring more limits to their lives than it would to the more well-off.

      • fantomesq says:

        @floraposte: Actually ‘rate’ is amount divided by time (not ability)… since we are talking about the same timeframe, the ‘rich’ giving $3336.65 in the same timeframe as the poor give $452.83 is in fact more than seven times the rate that the poor are giving… Which spin you put on the statistics depends on what agenda you are pushing.

        Here the agenda is to attempt and guilt the ‘rich’ into giving more even though they already give 7 times as much.

        • floraposte says:

          @fantomesq: No, that’s still not what “rate” means, so using it that way wouldn’t be manipulating the statistics, it would simply be incorrect.

          • fantomesq says:

            @floraposte: Sigh. Definition of rate: a magnitude or frequency relative to a time unit; “they traveled at a rate of 55 miles per hour”; “the rate of change was faster than expected”

            • ugly says:

              @fantomesq: I think you’re justifying a little bit of your own bias here. While I agree that the phrasing of the article was intended to encourage those more well off to support charity to a larger degree, I think you’re wrong on several other instances.

              1) Shaming people into doing something is a strong motivator in society, do you leave a tip when you eat at a restaurant? It’s fair to draw attention to this fact and shame people in order to encourage other behavior. It’s really only effective if enough people buy into the shame.

              2) “Rate” as a term is not limited to merely a measure against time. I assume you’re not deliberately ignorant of the fact so allow me to enlighten you. We have a given poverty rate, literacy rate, and bank prime rate. I’d rate your chances of observing these quite highly. Please feel free to rate this response, perhaps you’d like to compare our tax rates?

              • fantomesq says:

                @ugly: Fair enough on the bias.:) Your example on tipping versus non-tipping is an inaccurate comparison. More accurate would have been the poor guy tips $2 on his meal and the rich guy tips $14 and the guy next to the rich guy chews him out for not tipping enough…

                My definition of rate was as the term was used IN CONTEXT:
                “Actually, you couldn’t say that, because the rate is less than half.”

                In this context, the “rate” is amount over time and more than 7 times higher for the rich guy. The PERCENTAGE is less than half.

            • floraposte says:

              @fantomesq: Again, sigh all you want; there’s nothing inherent about time in the word “rate,” which is why it gets quantified as a time unit even in the example you use. Or do you really classify a 6% loan of $100k as the same rate as a 12% loan of 50k?

              I don’t think it really helps much either way in your ultimate argument, which seems to be that people who aren’t poor deserve more credit for the comparatively smaller amount they do tend to give because it’s a bigger raw number. Okay, fine–consider them credited. Now what?

              • fantomesq says:

                @floraposte: My argument was that this manufactured outrage of the rich “not paying their fair share” of charity was in fact manufactured through questionable statistics, slant and spin. Few if any have actually addressed that argument – rather arguing semantics.

      • Wombatish says:

        @fantomesq: It was discussed in percentages to avoid the very thing you’re pointing out.

        A percentage of your income is how a lot of expenses and things are calculated, why not charity? It’s certainly fairer that just looking at the numbers, as you pointed out.

        The rich guy feels the 3k a lot less because it’s less of his total wealth than the 500 is to the poor guy, proportionately.

        That’s why I always get a tiny bit sad when I see “Billionare donates 1,000 dollars to charity”. Granted, he probably donates to multiple charities, yadda yadda, but 1,000 is significantly less to him than it would be to you or me. At least he’s giving, though :D

        And the excuse that many rich people use (they have more expenses) is a poor one. Most of those “additional expenses” are luxuries. And while I’m not saying they should forgo luxuries, I don’t think they’re a very justifiable excuse as to why they can’t give to charity. If they don’t want to give, that’s their problem. But if they go “Oh, I want to, but I couldn’t live without this 800 dollar bottle of wine” that’s what starts to ring false.

        • fantomesq says:

          @Wombatish: They defined the “rich” with an AVERAGE income of $158,888… that can hardly be considered rich. Not all of the rich’s expenses are luxuries… many of these “rich” are business owners and these businesses are employing the lower strata.

          Its not YOUR place to tell the rich what they ought to be spending their money on.

          • Wombatish says:

            @fantomesq: LIKE I said. IF they don’t want to donate, that is their perogative.

            I also said I don’t think they should forgo luxuries.

            I simply said don’t use luxuries for an excuse as to why you “Want to give so badly but just can’t”. Use real expenses, like owning a business, -IF- you really have those real expenses.

        • fantomesq says:

          @Wombatish: The charity did FAR better with that $1000 that the “rich” donated than the $5 that the “poor” donated. Percentages, rates, etc. are all well and good but its card hold cash that pays the bills.

          • fantomesq says:

            @fantomesq: Cold hard cash… sheesh

            • ugly says:

              @fantomesq: My tipping reference was just to reinforce my claim that shaming is an effective social motivator. I don’t think it correlates to an analogy for the discussion in hand.

              Per “rate”, in this context the meaning of rate is as a synonym for percent. This is the same meaning of rate that applies to “literacy rate” and “retention rate”, neither of which are defined over time.

            • Con Sumer Zealot says:

              @fantomesq: I bet you love Ruth Madoff too, a woman who KNOWS none of that money belongs to her, it was STOLEN from other people, and is she about to give it back? HELL no. She’s just going to keep riching it up and rubbing it in all the victim’s faces BECAUSE SHE CAN and because she’s smarter and better than the LITTLE people.

              Why do you think it is okay similarly that we have a “capitalist” society where everything is geared to rip money away from the poor, and keep it away from the poor perpetually through corporations, and keep heaping it on the rich.

              It is absolutely obscene that CEO’s make more in a year, more then they would ever need or could spend in a thousand years, than most people will ever see in a lifetime.

              But people like you, Glenn Beck, Rush Limbigot, Sean Insannity, etc. just keep the drumbeat going – the poor deserve it, punish them, and worship the rich.

              That is not capitalism, that is feudalism, or economic despotism and it is NOT what America is or should be about. You wouldn’t know capitalism if it hit you on the head – we certainly don’t have it here.

              • fantomesq says:

                @Con Sumer Zealot: Wow, Zealot, nonsequiter, paranoia and personal attacks. Quite the trifecta. This article referred to the $158k rich… not the Madoff’s of the world. Soap box much?

                • Con Sumer Zealot says:

                  @fantomesq: I’m sorry, are facts a problem for you? :)

                  • fantomesq says:

                    @Con Sumer Zealot: There were no facts in your post – plenty of opinion, hyperbole, personal attacks and non-sequitur…

                  • cjones27 says:

                    @Con Sumer Zealot: Yes, because “Rush Limbigot” and “Sean Insannity” are factual names.

                    My family donates a good amount to charities, but far more to churches and religious entities. Anyone know if these are included in the calculations at all?

                    Regardless of what you think, our economic system is the most successful system ever devised. Even our poorest are better off than a very high percentage of the world.

                    But screw it – let’s just adopt socialism. Instead of the top 20% having 80% of the wealth (or whatever the statistic is), let’s have the top 1% have 99% of the wealth! That, not capitalism, is feudalism. All socialism does is make the disparity between the rich and poor larger and makes the number of rich smaller. In practice, it makes everyone equally poor, not equally prosperous.

                    • cjones27 says:

                      @cjones27: Disclaimer: I’m not opposed to some “socialist” style programs, but saying we should move to socialism and abandon capitalism is pure idiocy.

                    • Con Sumer Zealot says:

                      @cjones27: Actually I’d be more in favor of a “fair” capitalism (not to be confused with the falsely named “fair market” capitalism) like we had 60’s to mid 80’s until Reaganites started wrecking it and later Bushies finished the job in the last 8 years.

                      And again, it should be a 95% in the middle, 5% or less at either end, especially the top one, and those should be philanthropists. YES, they should HAVE TO give back to the communities from which they derive their wealth.

              • Jessica Haas says:

                @Con Sumer Zealot: Sorry2say, Ruth Madoff is not on the level of rich defined by this article. Also, I would love to see people like you become “rich” and see what you do with it.

                @fantomesq: Totally going against the grain here, but I agree with you, and I’m on the “poor” side of the argument. Nobody should tell anybody what to spend their money on, regardless of class.

                • fantomesq says:

                  @Jessica Haas: LOL, well thank you Jessica. For the record, I don’t make the “rich” category as defined in this article either. :) I just enjoy a lively debate, as long as it doesn’t devolve into ad hominem attacks.

                • Con Sumer Zealot says:

                  @Jessica Haas: Actually to tell you the truth, I did have a plan for a large windfall – but it might turn fantomesq’s stomach…

                  But just so you know, I would start a Consumer News Network and Media firm (magazines, billboards, etc.) much like consumerist, kinda like YouTube, with only Consumers producing THEIR advertising, their counter messages to Corporate BADvertising, and getting their views across, since we have like NONE of that in the major mainstream media. Consumerist and YouTube are wonderful starts, but hardly enough.

                  Just wanted to satisfy your curiosity on that point.

                  • cjones27 says:

                    @Con Sumer Zealot: I respect your right to debate or argue with people here, but resorting to “clever” names like “BADvertising” or blaming everything on “Reaganites” and “Bushites” makes it difficult to take you seriously. Were some of their economic policies detrimental and misguided? Absolutely, yes. Were some of Clinton’s? Absolutely, yes. But to blame economic crises entirely on one party is ignorant at best.

                    Instead of devolving into partisan attacks, pitting Republicans vs. Democrats, let’s just debate issues. By classifying ourselves as one or the other and defending that party to the death we only reinforce differences and divide the nation further. Republicans and Democrats are both guilty of this.

                    • Con Sumer Zealot says:

                      @cjones27: Glad you “respect my rights” on that. You know, cjones, my motto is I have a brain, and a spine, and I speak up (and vote).

                      Cleverness is a bad thing? Wakes people up. And a lot of times YES, it IS BAD-vertising. Ever-present marketing (BILLIONS spent annually on it) that rewires your brain subliminally and coerces you 50 times a day to buy stuff 24/7 you don’t need? That certainly isn’t GOOD-vertising, is it? Even worse when you consider much of it aimed at kids to override their parent’s judgment on purchases. Furthermore, that is a Consumerist term, seen it on here before, I wasn’t the first to use it.

                      And to be fair you probably didn’t see my post elsewhere where I credited both sides of the aisle for issues with the modern corporation…but I did, fyi.

                      But YES it IS predominantly Republicans who favor all rights and no responsibilities for corporations, and oppose any attempts to limit them, and further want consumers to have NO rights to sue when they have legitimate claims, or when products hurt them in bad faith, etc. etc. It is also repubs that tend to vote against change we need in healthcare, insurance companies, or anything benefitting the neediest and poorest consumers. It is also not solely but predominantly Republicans who are paid to do this by corporations.

                      I will agree with you that the two party system fails us in solving these issues, it should be Populists and people generally against corporations – I’d be thrilled to see the People’s Party versus the Corporate Party in Congress, and that would bring much more things to light.

                      However, pointing out what politicians have done is not a BAD thing, divisive or not. Enron was PERSONALLY linked with Bush. Halliburton with Cheney, etc. etc. Just like it is ridiculous for Obama (although I supported him during the election and still do on most issues) to say those Repubs who authorized torture shouldn’t be prosecuted and we need to look forward. Well, we don’t “look forward” and ignore rape, murder and other crimes, we shouldn’t on that either. If Dems get linked to that whole thing and proven to have conspired, by all means, they get punished too.

                      Anywho to the degree the Republican party and it’s loud stupid mouthpieces wholesale assault my consumer rights (and yours) out loud in clear daylight or behind our backs, I’m going to assault them right back on here on the merits and elsewhere. lest our country continues its march towards a virtual economic consumer concentration camp where we have no privacy, no rights and our only options are to buy buy buy and shut up and be good little programmed victims.

                    • cjones27 says:

                      @Con Sumer Zealot: And to the degree the Democrat party and its loud stupid mouthpieces wholesale assault my individual rights (and yours), I’m going to assault them right back. And the Republicans, too.

                      And while companies certainly do engage in advertising to entice you to purchase their products (after all, their employees are trying to make a living the same as you and I), you overlook the concept of individual responsibility. Sure, I could go buy a bunch of meaningless crap for a cheap thrill, but I know it’s neither fulfilling nor responsible. I prefer coming to this decision on my own rather than having another enormous entity, existing only because we provide it with money and “purchase” services (so to speak), tell me so. Of course, I’m referring to the government. They need our money just as Wal-Mart does.

                      You’re right: bringing up things that a President did is not bad. But to blame an entire financial crisis on one person is, again, hyperbolic. It was a storm of many different crises that hit too close to each other, each one having different causes. Each one was supported by the left, right, or both.

                      On the torture issue: prosecuting attorneys who, in good faith, gave legal advice regarding an important national security issue would set a dangerous precedent. Regardless of whether you were in favor of waterboarding or not, and regardless of if you call it “torture” or “enhanced interrogation.” Comparing it to rape and murder is unbelievably hyperbolic.

                      Safe to say: Agree to disagree.

          • Wombatish says:

            @fantomesq: The “charity” is happy with any money at all, I’m positive.

            And I was merely talking about the affects the expenditure has on the giver.

    • Jim Topoleski says:

      @fantomesq: Since when is being human “socialistic”?

      I am being honest here with this, beyond being able to flaunt the fact that you are wealthier than most, how is your life better by being rich?

      The wealthy never really have a legitimate answer to that question. Nothing says you cant be rich, and have nice stuff, but what value is it in you to have 8 50,000+ cars? Or 4 mansions?

      The way I have always looked at it, if I where to ever become “in the money,” I might buy myself a nice car, or a nice house, but when all is set and done I dont see any reason why I should spend money on frivolous things just because. Not when I have friends growing up who saved up their years allowance to buy a pair of Ewings, or who never made it to college because even with loans, they never had enough money to go.

      I don’t think anyone really says the rich cant be rich, thats foolish, but the flaunting of excess is disgusting, and in part of what makes 3/4ths of the world despise this nation. Much of the anger going on in this nation right now is exactly because of that. Excessive perks to rich people who where not only improperly doing their job, but in many cases not doing their job AT ALL. All the while autoworkers, and laborers break their backs and sweat away trying to make ends meet, and are not only looked down upon for doing their job, but are now being made to be a scapegoat by the VERY SAME RICH who failed, but need someone to shove the blame off to.

      • fantomesq says:

        @Jim Topoleski: Wow. I seriously doubt anyone earning an AVERAGE of $158,888 per year (meaning that a substantial fraction of these are under this) own 8 $50,000 cars or four mansions. Most in fact are living as you said you would – maybe A nice house and A nice car.

        The socialistic part is society telling anyone what they should do with their own money… Our capitalist society has fared better for everyone (including the poor) than any socialistic society on earth.

        • Jim Topoleski says:

          @fantomesq: How interesting, you talk of rich, then post a “average” salary that’s actually upper middle class, and not considered rich at all, but wealthy.

          Oh and of whom DOESN’T pay 8 times more contrary to your failed belief. I sure don’t, hate to break it to you, I pay more, but I also make more and HAVE more even after taxes.

          And actually our capitalistic society has constantly FAILED. You DO realize that we have not had an actual capitalistic society till the 1980’s? of which the policies instituted since then have directly contributed to the problems experience now. And that prior to that it had been pre 1929 that we had a “capitalistic” society which again caused a economic disaster of epic proportions.

          True capitalism is impossible in society that promotes democracy, since capitalism is at its root a strive for a monopoly and a dictatorship.

          A balance hand of capitalistic and socialistic policies is really the only way. Anything else is asking for disaster. Needless to say the US only prospered well when we HAD such a balance hand. It certainly prospered when we didnt, but at the suffering of the bulk of its people.

          • fantomesq says:

            @Jim Topoleski: -I- didn’t define rich at that income. The ARTICLE defined rich at that income.

          • MooseOfReason says:

            @Jim Topoleski: Even though you seem like you’re only saying things to get attention, I’m going to respond anyway.

            We did not have a capitalistic society “pre-1929”. We had a bubble economy, caused by massive credit expansion by the Federal Reserve. Between 1921 and 1929, they increased the money supply by over 60%, from $45 billion to $73 billion. That’s why we had the “Roaring Twenties”.

            Austrian economists actually predicted the Great Depression, and many other economic downturns, including our current one.

            (Causes of the Great Depression)

            (August, 2003 article about the looming housing bubble)

    • Anonymous says:

      @fantomesq: Your comparison isn’t valid. You could accurately say that the wealthy donate more money, but not that they donate at a higher rate.

      You seem to have missed the point of the article, which is not that the wealthy are “duty bound” to contribute more than they do. The point is that lower-income folks give a higher percentage, even though doing so can significantly impact their standard of living. If a wealthier person gives at a similar rate, it’s not going to have nearly as much of an impact on his standard of living–that’s not “socialistic spin”, it is simple economics.

    • Justin Larson says:

      @fantomesq: What is with the crazy spin that instantly goes to the s word.

      • fantomesq says:

        @Justin Larson: I call it as I see it – the point of the article is obviously to guilt the “rich” for not paying enough. The rest of society teling the rich how to spend their money is, per se, socialist.

        • mythago says:

          @fantomesq: Why do you hate free speech? Are you some kind of socialist who wants to silence the marketplace of ideas?

          • Stickarm says:

            @mythago: No, no, mythago — he’s clearly a capitalist who wants to support the marketplace of ideas (with the usual caveat that there are some forms of expression that cannot be protected by the concept of free speech — examples of which include yelling “fire” in a crowded theater, hate speech and things that make the rich feel bad).

    • Anonymous says:


      I agree with fantomesq, the article is using the statistics to push the writers opinion. It’s written in such a classist way as to almost be ridiculous. They only interviewed people from the lowest fifth about their personal charitable tendencies. These people were allowed to speculate about why people from the wealthier fifths don’t give as high a percentage. These statements were taken as fact with no supporting evidence and no one in the other fifths were interviewed to provide a defense or an opposing viewpoint.

      Wealthy people were characterized as not giving because they fear becoming poor themselves by a man who survives off a disability check funded by the taxes collected from those same people.

      The same for the laid off security guard. She claims wealthy people don’t give because they just don’t know poor people who need money, as she collects unemployment and welfare.

      They talk about how the poor send more money to relatives outside the US and treat it as if it’s because they care more about their family. But the amount of money sent by the two groups is absolutely meaningless with out supporting statistics about what percentage of each group actually has family outside the US. The article also completely ignores the possibility that the wealthy don’t send money home because they could afford to bring their family here.

      They even go as far to say that it makes no sense that wealthy people don’t give more, because every dollar they give to charity only costs them 65 cents after taxes. This shows astounding ignorance about how taxes work. Giving someone a dollar costs you a dollar no matter how much money you make. Wealthy people don’t get to deduct money they give to friends, family, or panhandlers any more than poor people do. And poor people have every right to itemize their deduction to charitable organizations. They don’t, because the standard deduction is almost guaranteed to be bigger than their actual expenses. To put it another way the standard deduction allows poorer people to reduced their taxes by a greater percentage of their income than wealthy people can by itemizing.

    • csdiego says:

      @fantomesq: The real problem with your comment is that you’re not getting the traction from the word “socialistic” that you’d like to be getting. Who are you, Bob Dole? Americans have seen the benefits of unmitigated capitalism and they’re ready to throw some “socialism” as you hyperbolically call it into the mix.

      • fantomesq says:

        @csdiego: LOL. Oh, I think the socialistic comment is getting quite a bit of traction, thank you. :)

        This is not about national policy but about YOUR right to be able to determine what you do with your money without society telling you what to do with it.

        • hedonia says:

          @fantomesq: No, in a free country we all have the ‘right’ to tell you to do what we want you to do with your money: I think the only moral thing is for you to give it all to me, so I can buy a silo of peanuts, and hope that they increase in value.

          You also have the right to ignore us.

          It would be socialism if the study was trying to get the government to set a mandatory ‘charity rate’, rather than what it is actually doing, which is using shame and social pressure to encourage richer people to do what the author thinks is right.

        • floraposte says:

          @fantomesq: Well, there’s nothing mandatory suggested in the article, so nobody is telling you what to do with your money. It does imply an opinion about the value of a particular action, but you’re not seriously suggesting that that kind of “telling” should be forbidden, are you?

    • savdavid says:

      4% of a poor family’s income hurts a lot more than 4% of a wealthy family’s income. The wealthy have plenty left over to go out and eat and shopping, the poor get by the best they can. You must be a snob.

    • kmw2 says:

      @fantomesq: Funny, I believe that the idea that the rich should give to the poor has been espoused by such Socialist icons as Queen Victoria, every Pope since St. Peter, and John D. Rockefeller. Those crazy, crazy Socialists and their charity-adopting ways.

  5. cjdmi says:

    I’m curious what fraction of disposable income is donated. I’d guess the ratios would look even worse once you subtract food, housing, and other fundamental necessities from the base income.

  6. SonicMan says:

    2 things.
    1 What part of the giving is lottery type donations? Dont the poor play those kind of charity games more?
    2 The Higher income people pay income tax a a higher rate too. Count that against it as well.

    • mythago says:

      @SonicMan: Income tax is not “donating to charity”, unless you think that the government is doing you a big favor by keeping your water chlorinated.

      • Anonymous says:

        @mythago: You have missed SonicMan’s point regarding income taxes. I think what he is saying (and correctly so) is that the “wealthy” pay a much higher percentage of income tax and, therefore, are less willing/able to part with a higher percentage of their income going to charitable activities.

        When you consider that a combination of FICA/state/local/federal income taxes are often times taxed greater than 50% on each incremental dollar earned by”the wealthy”, you might begin to understand why they might not be willing/able to part with the additional money. If income tax rates were lower on “the wealthy”, I strongly suspect charitable contribution rates would rise.

        Furthermore, I’m not sure if you are aware, but income tax IS “donating to charity”. Charitable organizations get substantial amounts from federal/state/local income taxes. In addition, were safety nets like Medicaid, Welfare, Food stamps, etc… not in place (and paid for with income taxes), charities would have to carry an even larger burden.

        What we are really talking about is redistribution of wealth. How much of each dollar made should be given to somebody else (whether it be to charities or the government)? Is a fair number 50%, 60%, 70%, 100%? And, at what point does someone stop trying to earn that incremental dollar? When you reach that point, you have taken away all incentive to perform better, take additional risk or just work harder … this ultimately leads to everyone being just “average”. Is that what our country was founded on …

    • MrEvil says:

      @SonicMan: Lottery has NEVER been considered charitable donations. The Lottery is GAMBLING. And you can only use your losses at gambling to offset your winnings at gambling. Same goes for charity Bingo.

  7. meehawl says:

    “what’s with the socialistic spin that the wealthy are duty bound to part with more of their money”

    I thought that was a part of most sin- or karmic-based religions that have exhibited adaptive benefit to society and thereby endured for long periods of time.

  8. AI says:

    I pay taxes which support Employment Insurance and Welfare which the poor do not due to their tax bracket, so I am already forced to give to ‘charity’. Except the charity is government programs that go directly to these poor that supposedly give more to charity than me. Screw them, they’re giving my money to charity and taking the credit for themselves. If you want me to give the same percentage to charity as the poor, then tax me the same percentage as the poor.

    • Wombatish says:

      @AirIntake Taxing the poor at the same rate as the rich is a terrible idea. It would just start welfare into a never-ending vicious cycle, or we would have to end it all together and then we can watch a third of our population learn what living in a third world country is like.

      I’d rather not be party to that, personally.

      Oversimplified, yes. But it’s not really what the story is about, except in as a small factor in the larger discussion of the whole.

    • Charles Mousseau says:

      @AirIntake: This is a very good point. Paying into funds you will never collect from, that go to help those in a lower income bracket than yourself, is the very definition of charity. Except when the bloated bureaucracy with a 20% overhead that collects the money is called “Uncle Sam” instead of “United Way”, it doesn’t count as noble.

      I notice that this survey also doesn’t take into account that the “richer half”, with their finances secure, are in a position to donate unpaid hours to charity. I wonder what the survey has to say about that?

      • Con Sumer Zealot says:

        @Charles Mousseau: The United Way is a big corporate charity scam, where people are work are chumped and guilted into giving “or else” by their managers, who get kickbacks, and about 10% goes to charity, the rest is profit shared among the higher ups.
        Consider it “Chump Rump Charity Poker” with the working stiffs bent over for the pot proceeds.

        • Con Sumer Zealot says:

          @Con Sumer Zealot: Oh and further, one great way to “fix” United Way Zombies at work (besides putting blood and garlic on your cube or office door) is to agree do donate 2 cents per pay check. It costs them more money to process that than it is worth lol.

      • MrEvil says:

        @Charles Mousseau: Actually, I reckon the wealthy people as classed in this article either own their own business or work a salary job. They DON’T have unpaid hours to donate because they live at the office.

        Folks that work for wages for large companies are limited to 40 hours a week. Often under penalty of termination for getting overtime (It was that way at the grocery store, Lowe’s, and Best Buy). Sales at the store start getting low and they reduce an employee’s hours even further. These folks would probably work more, but can’t because their employer thinks its a crime they should pay time and a half.

    • Etoiles says:

      @AirIntake: When you’re making minimum wage, you still have all of the FICA deductions from your paycheck. And your employer still contributes to Unemployment and Social Security and so on because you’re their employee, same as if you’re making $250k per year.

      • Megalomania says:

        @Etoiles: Except that the wealthy don’t USE any of that and the poor (statistically) do. Social security is a nightmare and should be systematically reduced until it’s gone – employers could pay the money they pay to FICA to their employees, or the government could just tax that money off of businesses and the employees wouldn’t notice a difference apart from the money staying in their paycheck.

        As someone who DOES save their money, it offends me to see FICA deductions on my paycheck when I know I will never need them and will never – in all probability – receive them as well.

        • Etoiles says:

          @Megalomania: What they should or should not do with the systems is another issue — and one far too complex for me to want to argue about in blog comments. I’m just pointing out that it’s not exactly a “rich only” penalty as some people like to portray it.

        • RandomHookup says:

          @Megalomania: It’s a safety net for those who can’t/don’t save. I’m a bit leery of our retirees being dumped onto the streets when their savings run out.

        • hegemonyhog says:


          As someone who DOES save their money, it offends me to see FICA deductions on my paycheck when I know I will never need them and will never – in all probability – receive them as well.

          I, for one, can’t wait until crippling elderly poverty once again sweeps the nation. Particularly just as our population starts getting older and older. *Great* plan.

    • Con Sumer Zealot says:

      @AirIntake: Well you see, whatever you call it, that’s better than giving at church, you see, because at church it gets dumped into Father Hypocrite’s pocket…

    • jameleon says:


      “Screw them, they’re giving my money to charity and taking the credit for themselves.”

      Yeah, because there’s no such thing as the “working poor.” It’s totally your money that they’re spending.

    • Trai_Dep says:

      @AirIntake: It’s not charity, it’s hush money.
      Or would you prefer food riots on your street corner as formerly employed parents who lost their jobs thru no fault of their own are forced to choose between watching their kids starve, or breaking into a store to steal a loaf of bread? And, would you feel smug in paying for police that shoot these people for the simple crime of wanting to feed their children when all strands of the safety net are snipped clean by unfeeling, short-term thinking people such as yourself?
      You’re one heck of an American, sir.

      • AI says:

        @Trai_Dep: Why thank you, as I am Canadian. Your slippery slop strawman argument misses the point. What is the difference between government programs that give to the poor, and charities that give to the poor? Would you argue that giving money to the United Way should be legally required in order to prevent homeless riots? Should giving money to churches be required by law in order to prevent police from shooting rioting priests? Get a hold of your fantasies.

      • Techguy1138 says:

        @Trai_Dep: Thanks for bringing this up. I don’t think it would be quite as apocolyptic as you said, but there is a legitimate economic benefit to the nation in having these social service programs.

        The rich have so little to complain about now especially when so much of the economy was restuctured to keep the weathy wealthy.

    • conquestofbread says:


      You’re delusional if you believe that your money is being given away to charity. Sorry.

      A minuscule portion of tax money in the US goes to aid for the needy, and the bulk of that is in the form of health care aid, housing aid, or food stamps. Something like 1-3% of government spending goes toward these programs, with something like 1% of that in the form of cash aid.

      I wrote a term paper on this in college, although that was 4 years ago, and regrettably I can’t present more up-to-date or specific facts now.

      In any case, the amount that your personal tax dollars benefit the needy is pretty much pocket change.

      So yes, I do believe that if you earn a decent living, you certainly should give to charity. Because if you find yourself in a hard luck situation down the road, the government certainly won’t be taking care of you.

  9. GuinevereRucker says:

    Percentage based giving is a great way to do it, but 3% is pretty low for a national average IMO.

    We give 10% off the top, and have capped our income at $42,000 this year. Anything we make or get above that, 100% gets given away. I’m not trying to make myself look better than anyone, just saying that most people have more money to give than they think. It’s just a matter of priorities. This goes for rich and poor alike IMO.

    • gauden44 says:

      @GuinevereRucker: *Arnold voice* You must be very proud of yourself.

    • ZekeSulastin says:

      @GuinevereRucker: “I’m not trying to make myself look better than anyone, just saying that most people have more money to give than they think.”

      Yeah, you are.

    • GuinevereRucker says:

      @GuinevereRucker: No, I’m not :) I don’t consider myself better than anyone for my habits. But I do think people should seriously evaluate their own attitudes toward giving. As Americans we are SO fortunate to have all that we do. Honestly, I have a long way to go myself. My standard is pathetically low compared to some people!

  10. Anonymous says:

    If you read the article you’ll see that religious contributions (tithing) are included in the totals. Studies have shown that most well-educated, and hence usually more wealthy, individuals don’t attend church. Religion has really become the domain of the poor. If one was to look at charitable giving in the traditional sense of American Red Cross, March of Dimes or even a Save the Lemmings, I think those numbers would change drastically.

  11. Starphantom12 says:

    I donate a set percentage of my income to my church- if I didn’t set that money aside, I’m sure other things would come up or I’d forget and the cash would never get where it needs to go. If you’re interested in donating cash to charity, I’d suggest putting it in your budget or even just having a jar in the kitchen… anything to separate that money from your spending pool.

    What’s nice about giving money to the church is that I know exactly where the money is going, information is readily available about the beneficiaries, I can see the financial books at any time, the people in charge are familiar to me and are held accountable, etc. Then I also get info about places I can donate my time to through pre-sermon announcements and stuff, sometimes the congregation will get together to help out with a specific event, and our pantry is a ready made food donation drop-off point. It’s cool to have everything consolidated like that. If you can get involved with a community that has a service-oriented culture (maybe a group at work?) then I say go for it.

    • wcnghj says:

      @Starphantom12: Just one question. Have you ever looked at the ‘books’?

      • Starphantom12 says:

        @wcnghj: I’ve never needed to go in and break them open, since a fairly detailed report is sent out to all church members yearly. “Special donation” amounts are also announced (we have three of those every year, where a rotating committee select a charity and the entire collection for a given Sunday is donated to that charity).

        If I had any doubts, I’m glad to know that the books are available.

    • Megalomania says:

      @wcnghj: churches (protestant at least, I have no idea how things work with the Catholics and the Vatican) generally have very good accountability with money. It’s pretty common that you’ll go in and at service each week there will be a breakdown of income to date, budgeted income to date, and expensives to date. Plus, the people who budget the money are (very rarely) in a position to get a financial boon from where it is put.

      • Starphantom12 says:

        @Megalomania: Truth. I’m in a Presbyterian church- our denomination is sort of the southern version of the Christian Reformed Church, which is full of the Dutch. You have not met penny-pinchers until you have met my Dutch relatives.

        Also, protestant work ethic FTW… unless I wanted a snow day at college and my (CRC) school was the only institution in the county to stay open. That was annoying. Pfft, the Dutch.

      • Eyebrows McGee (now with double the baby!) says:

        @Megalomania: Catholics are better than they used to be, and there are newer rules in place that US dioceses are supposed to comply with.

        I have full access to my parish’s and dioceses books as a regular person and they’re pretty clear on where all the money goes. (And you can restrict where your gifts go if you prefer.) The last parish I was in hadn’t really upgraded its accounting systems yet to the new standards. I was on the parish board and they *were* on the up-and-up, but it would still have been possible to be shady with funds because they hadn’t updated their systems, so the update needed to occur. It would have been just as easy for the parish to be run by sinners rather than saints.

    • Con Sumer Zealot says:

      @Starphantom12: Wow, I wish the Catholic church were more like your church as far as accountability..

  12. Wombatish says:

    I would really like to see a study like this that includes time spent volunteering.

    Since most people who are well off just give money, in my experience with various charities both large and small, and a poorer person is more likely to offer what little money they can spare plus what little time they can spare.

    I think the gap would honestly grow quite a bit larger. Embarrassingly large for those in the top percentiles, imo.

    Also, unless the gala you throw/host/whatever raises at least three times what it cost to throw, it shouldn’t count, in my opinion. When I worked with the Girl Scout office in New York, I saw way too many socialites spending thousands of dollars to throw a charity event that only ended up raising a few hundred. And then they didn’t see the logic in the argument that they “just should have donated the thousands” in the first place.

    Also, reputable charities! With very, very low overhead. Or non-organized, need-based giving to those in your life an community! Your donation means nothing if it pays some no-good fat-cat moocher’s salary.

    • Wombatish says:

      @Wombatish: Well, ends up meaning nothing.

      But still! Responsible giving is good.

      Sorry to ramble, but I’ve had a lot of good -and- bad experience with charities, both on the inside and from the outside, and it’s a subject I feel strongly about.

    • Starphantom12 says:

      @Wombatish: Ugh, so much truth. I hate to see people give money to horrible charities where only .10 of every dollar gets to the people who need it. I also know that a lot of charities in my area need volunteers who donate more than a few hours of their time once a year- it takes that long to train them, then they’re gone. I think donating an evening once every two weeks is so much better than just one marathon week around Thanksgiving.

    • Megalomania says:

      @Wombatish: The VERY wealthy end up getting hit by the death tax eventually so I’d imagine it all works out in the end, not counting jerks like the Kennedy’s who manage to evade some ridiculous amount of it each time someone dies.

      • Wombatish says:

        @Megalomania: The VERY wealthy spend more time and money trying to get rid of the death tax than they do paying it sometimes, sadly.

        Also, not all of taxes go to people in need, in one way or another.

        But I do think it’s fair to include the portion that does.

    • Con Sumer Zealot says:

      @Wombatish: Actually I’d like to see a study on how much wealthy people give at all, if anything. I’d best most of them don’t at all except to their own false front foundations so they can “triple dip” with their money. 1. Get it 2. Tax refund for giving it 3. get it from themselves.

      Those rich people shouldn’t be able to give to themselves and bilk the taxpayers.

  13. appetite says:

    I think wealthy people’s donations get them more benefits than poorer people’s donations–in terms of press, recognition, perks, etc. A friend of mine worked in fundraising for a Cystic Fibrosis Foundation and said that the people who gave the most would usually come with a lot of expensive demands, leaving their total contribution high but the net result of their contribution a lot lower.

    I don’t think sending money to family members outside of the country should count as charity at all. And I also question these statistics. I give money all over the place, and I rarely ever keep track of it. I give money to people on the street (not all of them or I’d be a sucker) and I don’t see how that could fit into these numbers. But I bet giving to panhandlers aggregates to more than I give to non-profits.

    I’d like to see which class of people gives the most to the government in the form of fees and fines. In San Francisco, they bleed you to death with penalty fees. I bet the poor and middle class get the brunt of that assault, too.

    And the taxes issue is not clear cut either. Since I started my own sole proprietorship, my income has more than doubled, but my tax rate has decreased because I have the time, money, and ability to deduct a lot of my expenses. If I had a mortgage instead of renting, I’d pay even less. It definitely pays to be wealthy in the US.

    • Con Sumer Zealot says:

      @appetite: Well giving to panhandlers is just dumb, and holds up traffic if you are in a car. 60 minutes proved that years ago – they offered 50 pandhandlers a job, 49 threatened to beat up or kill the reporter, 1 accepted the job and never showed up.

  14. Micromegas says:

    Get a job, winos!

  15. henwy says:

    This is a bullshit set of statistics as anyone with half a mind would have seen right from the start. As someone with no income, the fact that I donated a buck to charity now means that I just gave an infinite percentage of my income. A couple hundred college students or other people in my circumstance would skew the hell out of these numbers no matter what. At the small extremes, small differences cause huge changes in percentages. These numbers absolutely cannot be compared in this manner.

  16. PollyHaerk says:

    I know a woman who is a single mother with two small children, from different fathers, who works at a low end job at my place of employment. She is currently enrolled in the “assisted living/section 8” program provided by our state. I pay $750 a month to live in an apartment complex built in 1995, she pays $350 a month to live in a modern sheetrock/stucco/brick apartment complex(2 bed, 2 bath), run privately, but subsidized by the government, allowing her to pay $350 while the gov picks up the other $400-$500 difference and pays directly to the complex. To live there, she has to keep her income beneath $18,000 a year. So? She works for minimum wage, keeps her hours down, and lives in a manner that best suits her.
    And she gives to the church. 20% of her income to be exact. I don’t know exactly what she brings how she computes her math, but 20% ? $200 or so a month?

    Its disgusting

    • Con Sumer Zealot says:

      @PollyHaerk: To quote all the RePugnicans, who are you to tell her how much she can make or keep? :)

    • From the cubicle of PGibbons says:

      @PollyHaerk: Yup, unfortunately the government programs are usually set up to be “all or nothing.” Even the Holy Obama’s “stimulous” programs are basically useless in the mess that has come about since Carter and Reagan. Jobs are gone and/or employees are falsely categorized as “contractors” and immune from the safety net of unemployment.

      Those stupid HUD programs, setup as they are to allow unfettered “private property” rents their legitimacy, have a bunch of hoops to jump through and stay within. Anyone living there knows the game – it’s just a game. The woman in question probably wants a stable family life and security as best she can make it, and she won the lottery for this apartment with all the strings attached. By adjusting her income to make HUD’s bureaucrats shut up, she gets to raise her kids in a reliable apartment instead of in the back seat of a Buick. Even the Church benefits, maybe some trickles to those still stuck living in their cars.

      When you have little chance at raising your wages or even keeping your job, having a home that will be there regardless of the fluctuations of the “free market” scammers sounds like a worthy goal for everyone.

    • ShariC says:

      @PollyHaerk: I can’t believe that people begrudge the poor subsidized rent. No one works a minimum wage job in order to qualify for government assistance. They may choose not to work overtime or limit their hours so that they become disqualified for subsidized rent because the loss would far outweigh the benefit, but if a person could make enough money to pay full rent at a different sort of job, they certainly would.

      Being on public assistance is demoralizing and embarrassing. I grew up around an awful lot of rural poor and was a part of them (though not via welfare except for a few horrible Reagan years). None of these people lived a good life or was happy about things like using food stamps, WICK, or HUD, but they did what they had to to survive.

      I can always tell when people who comment on the poor have never really been there because they show no empathy and are quick to judge. Just be glad you can afford to pay your own rent.

      • PollyHaerk says:


        This woman doesn’t live in peril; she is no different than the rest of the people that work for the CORPORATE BUSINESS I work for, other than that her “aspiration” is curtailed to play the game… shes got enough seniority to apply for a higher paying position, shes got the work ethic to move up the ranks…. I make about $26,000 a year right now. I should be glad for what? I CAN’T AFFORD TO GIVE $200 A MONTH TO THE LOCAL PLACE OF WORSHIP! I drive a 5 year old vehicle, live with a roommate, and try to save whatever $$$ I can each month to help me should disaster strike. The point of all this? While there are a good many people in this world who are poor because of incapacity out of their control, there is another SUBCLASS of people with little aspiration and complete lack of sound priority that will tailor their ambition to walk the dreaded government line (all the while giving a ridiculous amount of their income to charity) $200 a month? Why not give $20 a month and put $180 in a savings account for your children’s future? college? Who needs college?

        • ajlei says:

          @PollyHaerk: While I am in a similar situation as you (although I make more along the lines of $11,000/yr right now as I’m back in school) with the rent/roommate/etc, what’s wrong with driving a 5 year old vehicle? My car’s 13 years old… Or maybe I’m just interpreting your post wrong.

        • econobiker says:

          @PollyHaerk: Why bother with saving for college as that is what scholarships are for…

      • Sean Masters says:

        @ShariC: after having worked in Section 8 housing for 4 years, at a company with 40 properties nationwide, I can honestly say that you’re full of it. Are the majority of people there decent, hard-working people? I’ll give you that much, I do honestly think that at least 51% of those people on public assistance are hard-working, demoralized, struggling, and absolutely deserving of state and federal support.

        Are there no persons gaming the system, though? Absolutely not, plenty of people game the hell out of the system, on purpose, frankly because if they make even $1 more than they’re supposed to, they get cut off by the govt and lose all of their govt support.

        But you know what? We voted these bloody systems in in the first place. It’s the fault of all of us. It’s sad that most working class Americans would be better off making $18,000/yr than they would be if making $18,001/yr.

    • chocolate1234 says:


      I wasn’t sure if I agreed with you until I read that she had two children by two different men. What a hussy. She must deserve to be in the position she’s in.

      Look, there are always going to be some people cheating the system, but for all those people, there are many more that don’t. You work with this woman – that doesn’t mean you know her life story. Be grateful you’re not in that position, and for your own sake, let go of your anger.

  17. redlikerubies says:

    Here’s what I thought of:
    I am guessing the percentage of lower income people who go to church might be a lot higher, and I bet they are encouraged at church to give 10% of their income. If you looked at charitable giving that is not related to a religious organization, I bet it is more even between lower/higher income people, as a percentage of income.

  18. Anonymous says:

    The study is meaningless as it looks at pretax income, not posttax income. If I wanted to measure generosity of someone, I would look at how much they gave from the actual amount of money they had in their pocket at the end of the day. Also, using pretax income is unfair because someone who makes $10,000 a year will actually pay negative taxes through things like the Earned Income Tax Credit, while a $150K person has a marginal rate of 35% to deal with. There may still be a difference between the charitability of the rich and poor, but the data presented only serves to exaggerate it.

  19. savdavid says:

    4% of the poor’s income hurts more than 4% for the rich since the wealthy will still have plenty left over to go shopping and out to eat. The poor must give because they know what hunger is like and want to help someone else.

  20. dave_coder says:

    If you calculate the TOTAL amount of what “rich” people give you’ll find it is much more then the TOTAL amount of what “poor” people gave.

    This type of article just screams “class envy”.

    • From the cubicle of PGibbons says:

      @dave_coder: Well done. And since we’re apparently changing this to “fun math facts”… If you take the total amount of life hours that a poor person toils per month to get enough money to keep the lights on and feed basic nutrition to their family, I’ll betcha’ it’s much HIGHER than the guy pulling in $5,000-10,000/month.

      These kind of surveys tend to point out inequity, different priorities and selfishness. Like the fact that “Everyone” gets Social Security starting at 62 or 65 until they die. BUT – someone who has worked their ass off all their life has often worn out their body by the time they’re into their ’60s, and will likely die earlier (especially with decent health care often only available to the richer classes). Those working poor who need pensions the most have to watch rich schlubs who don’t really need it take Social Security funds and gas up their yachts with the money. Talk about “welfare queens!”

    • GuinevereRucker says:

      @dave_coder: I disagree. The percentage of your income you give away tends to remain consistent no matter how wealthy you are. If you squander ten dollars, you will squander 100 or 1,000. If you are wise with one dollar, you will be wise with a million.

      There are stories of people winning the lottery and blowing it within a few months. They were stupid buying lottery tickets in the first place, and stupid with the money after they won.

      Similarly, your attitude with money seldom changes with wealth. There are generous wealthy people and stingy poor. So I think percentages are a great way to gauge your attitude toward the needy.

    • chris_d says:

      You’re so busy screaming, “CLASS WARFARE!!!1” that you missed the point entirely, which is that the poor apparently give a bigger chunk of what they have away than do the wealthy. It’s not about who gives more away, it’s about who is more generous with what they have.

    • hegemonyhog says:

      @dave_coder: Yes, because one group has more money to give than the other. That’s quite possibly the dumbest and most pointless argument you could make.

  21. Geoff Marshall says:

    Wow, this thread sure turned into an exercise in poor-bashing. Thank you fantomesq. Brilliant point that a smaller percentage of a much larger number is still bigger than a larger percentage of a much smaller number. However, if you were to measure priorities of groups in a scientific way, percentage of income would be a great way to do it. What percent do they allocate to housing, transportation, food, entertainment, savings, investment, charity, etc? It is the same as comparing nations budgets as a percentage of GDP instead of in absolute numbers. Good sources on charity and downward economic redistribution include, Buddha, Confucius, Maimonides, Seneca, Jesus, Bacon, Carnegie, Gates and Buffett.

  22. Con Sumer Zealot says:

    I also want to point out to everyone that AIG, the banks, etc., the precious cherished institutions of the filthy rich have TRASHED our country, our economy and our future. Whoever think the RICH in this country are good, or that needs to be respected or worshipped needs to think again. These organizations were typical of how rich people think – let’s screw everyone else to get ahead now, and forget about the future.

    • HIV 2 Elway says:

      @Con Sumer Zealot: Yeah, Rockefeller was a monster. You must be exhausted from expending so much energy on hate.

      • Jessica Haas says:

        @HIV 2 Elway: Bill Gates, too. Last I checked he donates something of 20% of his income every year.

        • Con Sumer Zealot says:

          @Jessica Haas: He donates it to himself – his own foundation.

          • Jessica Haas says:

            @Con Sumer Zealot: Are you really that thick headed? Yes, it might be his own foundation, but his foundation is helping people. They fund scholarships, help the homeless, give vaccines to the thousands upon millions of people in third world countries who desperately need it.

            Seriously, you need to get off your soap box because all rich people aren’t heartless greedy bastards.

    • ZekeSulastin says:

      @Con Sumer Zealot: HURRDURR read the article and note the definition of ‘rich’, plzkthx? Your little soapbox is irrelevant.

    • Jessica Haas says:

      @Con Sumer Zealot: Oh, you seem to be forgetting that a good chunk of why our economy is failing is because people were stupid and took out loans on cars, houses, etc. that they know they couldn’t afford, and did anyway. THEY are they ones that have helped trash our economy.

      • Con Sumer Zealot says:

        @Jessica Haas: Um no, that would be because greedy a$$ shady vulture mortgage lenders many of whom are in JAIL now LIED to people telling them they qualified, and/or changed the rules so they could. Your false claim has pretty much been roundly debunked in Congressional investigations, dear.

        All the proof you need is right here, very good video. Get out the popcorn!


        Oh when you get to the page that big triangle button on the lower left of the video screen – that is the PLAY button, just thought I would help you out :)

        • Jessica Haas says:

          @Con Sumer Zealot: Okay, but they wouldn’t have done that if there weren’t people looking to buy 300,000$ homes when in reality they could afford 100,000$.

        • Andrew Farris says:

          @Con Sumer Zealot:
          So people were told that they ‘qualified’ for a loan. What does that mean? That the bank was willing to take a risk in loaning them money. That does not mean that they were able to repay it, that the bank had done a thorough analysis of the person’s finances and spending habits, and had said absolutely without qualification that they would be able to AFFORD IT.

          Big difference. Any person who takes on a loan has a responsibility to understand what it will cost them, and whether they can afford it. Libraries were available to every single home buyer who took on a variable rate loan. Whether they took the time and made the effort to know what they were doing is another issue entirely.

          A greedy shady vulture mortgage lender told them they could get into a house… and they believed them without taking PERSONAL RESPONSIBILITY FOR THEIR FINANCES. Period. It takes nothing more than a sixth grade education to add up what you can and cannot spend during a month and come up positive or negative.

          • Con Sumer Zealot says:

            @Andrew Farris: Hmmm

            1. It is the LENDER’s responsibility to correctly and thoroughy assess risk and borrower ability to repay based on credit and payment history, not the borrower’s.

            2. I guess you somehow missed it, but in an earlier post I pretty specifically mentioned that first time homeowners do have to take and pass as part of the deal an “affording your mortgage” class, set of exercises and completed document. So they already have that in place, thank you.

            3. As far as a mortgage and understanding how it works, HELLO we just had Paulsen come out in the press and admit HE, the former Treasury Secretary doesn’t even know how mortgages work. (Oh that’s right, typical Bush appointee). If he doesn’t, why should anyone else?

            4. Gee, too bad, and I assume you’ll agree with me on this, buying a home and understanding a mortgage isn’t taught in high schools. Unfricking forgivable for my school / property tax money investment. But that means your premise is false that everyone in society does or should understand as mortgages work, and banks love that they don’t, means they can make whatever multiple 100% interest on the suckers during the life of the loan. Face it. Amortization tables make the average person cringe, and have the lost babe in the woods look on.

            Banks have MADE SURE it’s not taught in the schools to guarantee easy financial rapeage in their operations.

            So your empty loud angry all caps claim that it is personal responsibility to understand mortgages doesn’t wash anywhere except right down the drain.

            Most people’s operational concept is they can afford it month to month, at best for the whole year, and simply know something bad will happen to credit if they don’t and need another place to live if so. If you took a poll of homeowners, tested them, I’ll bet less than 2% know how much money they lose in interest, the cost of that mortgage in lost interest, or other mortgage factors.

            Further, go ask the average mortgage banker what the bank makes off the 30 year loan. They will politely ignore you and just vulturize the conversation into “what rate are you looking for?”. Just like a car salesman.

            No, what would be personally responsible for YOU here Andrew is to be intellectually honest and admit the population is a lot less knowledgeable (by design) than you admit, unfortunately easily victimized, and that the high-bar Personal Responbility expectation you are placing on them is ridonkulous at best given the current reality.

            The six grade education is NOT sufficient to PERSONALLY RESPONSIBLY understand a MORTGAGE. PERIOD.

    • OrlandoDude says:

      @Con Sumer Zealot: There are corrupt people at all levels of society, rich, poor, in-between.

      You must not be self-employed, you would classify that as “rich” or corrupt.

      So, do you work for a poor person? Or a “rich” one? Or worse- a greedy corporation? Last time I checked, poor people do not create jobs.

      I remember when Ted Turner promised to donate 1 billion dollars (over time) to various UN charities. Most all economists agreed that this was extremely inefficient; if he invested 1 billion in new technologies, companies, and private growth, he would create JOBS that last, helping far more people over the long run, for a much longer time.

      Give a man a fish, teach a man to fish….

  23. CarlIguana says:

    It should be remembered that when the early church first commanded European parishioners to give 10% of income, it provided healthcare and many other social services in return. Given the transfer of most of these social services to taxpayer supported institutions, the Islamic zakat (2.5%, to be given specifically to help poor people and not just any 501c3 ) seems like a more reasonable guideline for most people. It’s worth noting that there are other ways to give for those who are strapped for both time and money, like the World Community Grid (www.worldcommunitygrid.org), which allows users to donate their spare computer capacity for humanitarian research.

  24. HIV 2 Elway says:

    The wealthiest people I know (all self made entrepreneurs) are also the most generous both in terms of donating money and time to charities and in terms of just being generous with big parties and giving jobs to family and friends in need of work. The tightwads that I know are the ones that inherited their wealth, the ones that run their parents’ companies. There is something about creating wealth out of nothing but hard work that makes people give more once they achieve success.

  25. Con Sumer Zealot says:

    Actually he really kind of was (oil baron). Of course creating those foundations were just a pittance of what he made and helped assauge his massive guilt, but best of all, named huge things after him. The ultimate ego phallic symbols.

  26. From the cubicle of PGibbons says:

    These type of comparisons always remind me of this quote:

    “The law, in its majestic equality, forbids the rich as well as the poor to sleep under bridges, to beg in the streets, and to steal bread.”

    (from The Red Lily, 1894 by Anatole France)

    $3 Thousand to someone taking $100,000 home (AND usually able to write it off, along with their dwelling) is most probably a hell of a lot less consequential to them than $300 dollars to a single mom or working stiff. I know a few rich folk that are very stealth in their giving – which I truly admire – and hence might not be fully counted in a survey like this.

    But overall, just as many rich tend to operate in their own self-interest: “Greed,” the less fortunate also tend to work in their own self-interest too: survival of their fellow beings. I’ve witnessed acts of sharing among the least well-off that make me long for a “maximum wage” to stop the silliness of supporting the idle rich – we just can’t afford them anymore.

  27. robdew2 says:

    I think most of the point about the fallacious reasoning in this article have already been pointed out, so I will just say this is the kind of poor quality posting that drives me away from this site. Strike 1.

  28. Con Sumer Zealot says:

    And people are supposed to know that how?

    1. They trust mortgage broker and lenders and realtors to know that for them. If all 3 of those let them through to closing and don’t say anything, all of whom know more about how all this works to the borrower, how is that the borrower’s fault exactly?

    2. Even if the borrower knows his or her fico score and annual salary, and other expenses (they are required to list them on a sheet when buying the home, and take a class on affording their mortgage) there is know way they could pretend to know what all a mortgage banker / lender looks at in making the lending decision.

    Bottom line, these first time borrowers (I know, I was one) 1. trust the lender 2. take the affordability course. If they pass those it is not their fault.

    3. It is further not their fault if corporations lay them off in a bad economy and despite their damndest efforts they can only now find retail or mickey mouse call center jobs (soon to be lost again when outsourced or cut back) and can’t make ends meet.

    It is just logical that if all the people who defaulted were irresponsible and fully to blame, the numbers of defaults wouldn’t have been that large. The crash and it’s impact on our economy is at least 80% corporate irresponsibility, both on the lenders side and on corporations outsourcing.

    Blaming them for what happened is kinda like blaming crime or rape victims “Well, why were you at home to get burglarized?” “Why were you walking down the street to work?” “Why were you stopped in the car at the streetlight when you got carjacked?” Sorry, “Why did you buy a home?” is an unfair question, it is the American Dream, and people shouldn’t be armchair quarterbacked because they got steamrolled on both sides by corporate jack-a$$ stupidity.

    • fantomesq says:

      @Con Sumer Zealot: Another non-sequitur. What does this have to do with the original posting?

    • Con Sumer Zealot says:

      @Con Sumer Zealot: Jess brought it up man, not me.

    • SonicPhoenix says:

      @Con Sumer Zealot:
      1. Trusting people who make their living at your expense is generally not a good idea. This is doubly true when the purchase is most likely the largest one of your life. Like Warren Buffet says, if you don’t understand how something works, don’t invest in it. The same is true of one’s personal finances. A traditional 15 or 30 year mortgage is not a complicated thing and there are several online calculators out there that they could have played with to determine feasibility.

      2. There isn’t really much magic when it comes to a mortgage. If one only earns 50k a year, it should be painfully obvious that no matter what one does with the mortgage, buying a $750,000 house simply isn’t feasible. There is a very well known benchmark that states you shouldn’t buy a house for more than three times your income. Choosing to disregard this advice at the behest of someone who is obviously more interested in the commission on your loan is sheer folly.

      3. Fair enough. Truth be told if it weren’t for the massive leveraging, the mortgage crisis wouldn’t have had nearly the impact that it did and that aspect of this problem is pretty much entirely the fault of the financial institutions that issued, repackaged, rated and insured the mortgages.

    • Andrew Farris says:

      @Con Sumer Zealot:
      “1. They trust mortgage broker and lenders and realtors to know that for them. If all 3 of those let them through to closing and don’t say anything, all of whom know more about how all this works to the borrower, how is that the borrower’s fault exactly?”

      Because the borrower is the one borrowing the money not the lender. The borrower should know what they are borrowing and if they do not it is by definition their fault for doing something with their finances they did not understand. The blaming of others for everything unpleasant and complete lack of personal accountability is reaching pandemic levels in our society…

    • Jessica Haas says:

      @Con Sumer Zealot: The only answer to your first question and refutes your points:

      Personal responsibility.

      • Con Sumer Zealot says:

        @Jessica Haas: No that’s just a fancy term repugs like to throw around and subject consumers to but NEVER corporations to.

        Jess, why aren’t corporations ever responsible? That’s right, because they aren’t persons, even though, they have the right of persons. Is that fair?

        This stupid assumption corporations can and do never do anything wrong is not only laughable and ridiculous, it is now patenly offensive and clearly the cause of our nation’s economic ruin.

        The day when we get rid of corporate personhood and these Attorney Generals start USING their leverage and disbanding corporations that economically rape and pillage, America will start being a decent place again.

        • Con Sumer Zealot says:

          @Con Sumer Zealot: Kind of like Holier than Thou Christians – They aren’t perfect, they just want YOU to be.

          Corporations aren’t personally responsible, they just want YOU to be…

  29. Con Sumer Zealot says:

    Oh and Jess dear, your hero Bill Gates – his org, which he is on the board of and knows all about this, is laying people off and outsourcing American jobs to foreigners in record numbers. Pretty unAmerican if you ask me. So, no he’s not exactly some wonderful rich person (not to mention most of what he created or how he implemented what he did to get rich was either outright theft, unfair strongarming, cheating, or subjecting the world to unsafe technology that doesn’t work right that in many situations they can’t choose to avoid). Point set match.

    • HIV 2 Elway says:

      @Con Sumer Zealot: Point set match? What point have you made? That Bill Gates is a horrible man? Forget his contributions to AIDS research; his technical achievements are more than contribution enough. Its men like Gates who make the advances that make our lives better. On top of that they give boatloads of money to help the less fortunate.
      If one wants to be a hateful pessimist they can find fault with any individual. Do Dr. Martin Luther King’s extramarital affairs detract from his civil rights work? Of course not.

    • fantomesq says:

      @Con Sumer Zealot: Wow. I’m not about to defend Bill Gates but I would ask what accomplishments do you have to rival the incredible impact Mr. Gates has had on this world? I thought so.

      • Con Sumer Zealot says:

        @fantomesq: Oh you’re right, I haven’t made an operating system that makes the whole world unproductive and exposes them risk because I’m too dumb and lazy to build it against known risks, nor did I hack into the mainframe to change my high school grades to get ahead unfairly.

        You’re right my accomplishments really don’t compare at all to that.

        Further I rather resent corporate standards applied to “worth” in someone’s life when measuring their accomplishments. That’s pretty much saying that those who find ways to screw people exponentially (financially and otherwise) should be worshipped all the more.

        So no, forgive me if I don’t share your worship for the Stalins of American enterprise. No, I won’t compare him to Hitler, I’ll reserve that more for Cheney at Halliburton or certain Lockheed Martin and Blackwater executives..

        • Jessica Haas says:

          @Con Sumer Zealot: First off, don’t call me “Jess” or “dear.” You don’t know me like that, nor do you have a right to call me that.

          Second, I’m not worshiping him, I think he’s kind of a douche, but he’s donating millions upon millions of his dollars to help fund research for all sorts of diseases, sending poor people to school, and saving the lives of thousands in third world countries by providing them with vaccines and medical care. I’m sorry, but if you can’t see through this man’s horrible business practices and your own personal bias, and see that he is actually doing some good with his wealth, then you sir, are truly an asshole.

          • morlo says:

            @Jessica Haas: The Bill Gates foundation was no doubt started for tax advantages and to satisfy Gates’s ego. And it’s difficult to say whether the harm done during Microsoft’s absorption of money is outweighed by any good done during its charitable expenditure. Considering that anyone with more billions than s/he can spend will end up giving heavily to charity, nothing he has done seems particularly praiseworthy.

          • Con Sumer Zealot says:

            @Jessica Haas: Donated money=laundered money. 2 birds with one stone, get rid of the evidence and look good doing it, lol.

            Anyway, yet ANOTHER headline proves what kind of person and corporation Gates and Microsoft REALLY ARE:


            No bid contracts – Good ol’ boys at Halliburton do that to…

            Hey Jess are no bid contracts personally responsible?

  30. conquestofbread says:

    One more comment — one thing that I haven’t seen anybody else mention is that the rich tend to make charitable contributions to organizations that benefit their own class, like endowments for the arts, or money towards disease research.

    As opposed to donating money to the needy.

  31. H3ion says:

    If you don’t think we tell people what to do with their money, you haven’t read the Federal Budget, or your state’s budget, or your county or local budgets. Every one of those takes tax dollars (which come at a higher percentage from the “rich” due to graduated rates) and uses them as government determines. Now, without question, some of these expenditures are the very purpose of government, national defense, currency, etc., but a lot are expenditures that might generate some argument, such as the construction of a new road which takes land from someone’s back yard.

    As far as charity is concerned, some of the work performed by very worthy charities, such as the American Red Cross, also are performed by government.

    The rich often contribute to charities that benefit them not at all but do benefit mankind. For example, the much maligned Bill Gates; his foundation is doing important work in Africa that the African governments either can’t or won’t spend the funds to do. Why should he be taken to task for doing good?

    That “rich guy,” who started a company that now employs 20 people, and contributes to causes in his community, why should he be singled out for shite?

    Sorry, I’m not rich but I’d like to get there. I don’t think anyone starts out with a goal of being poor.

    • Con Sumer Zealot says:

      @H3ion: You are right, it shouldn’t be rich vs. poor. It should be all of us in a closer more comfortable, common sense and responsible range of middle class, in short most of us having a future with the possibility of prosperity. That means corporations who produce enough jobs HERE for everyone to have, instead of continuing to be offshore tax cheats yelling “global economy” while blinding everyone with brand names and logos.

      It most certainly shouldn’t be multi billion dollar CEO’s and it most certainly shouldn’t be vast waves of millions of down and out Americans (and children) in the richest country on earth.

      Now, why isn’t it that way? Well, those CEOs responsible for all those jobs? You see, there’s these concepts:

      – Outsourcing every job they can think of
      – Not paying people what they are worth because they are selfish jerks
      – Stealing money from people’s retirement accounts (Enron big example but not the only one)
      – Gaming our economy and making it tank based on ponze and stock schemes and scams and bad loans
      – Corporations designing cyclical consumer abuse systems where we spend all our money and then spend into debt (like our government), never own anything, and because of built in obsolescence, nothing lasts, so we never do realize our dreams (they manufacture in BADvertising).

      When people have to keep buying new homes, cars, computers, clothes every year, or every 3 years, they can’t be prosperous easily, and certainly not permanently. They can’t save easily for retirement, and they inevitably need government help (and that’s BEFORE they go to Vegas!)

      But THAT is how the system has been designed – work people to death chasing price tags and the illusion of satisfaction while the richest retire on mountains of selfishly held and non-invested wealth and communities rot in the gutter and in small rural towns.

      As I said before, THAT is not capitalism, that is corporate welfare, and economic despotism. Capitalism is a fiction con game term Repubs and Ultra Rich use on a regular basis to keep the status quo going, and to be fair some Dems too.

      To be fair, it isn’t just America, and that isn’t new. Organized Slavery / Wealth for the Elite systems are as old as civilization, it’s just we all hoped America would and could be different, that’s all.

      It also certainly isn’t new IN America – the Industrial Revolution saw kids working 16 hour shifts. That’s why unions, which some people think are SO EVIL, were formed, to bring sanity and fairness back into working people’s lives.

      The modern corporation in all it’s forms is really the root of many evils at many levels. It needs to be changed. Up until we figure out a way to do that, and strip “Personhood” rights from Corporations, sites like this one fight the good fight and keep people aware of what is going on.

  32. WorldHarmony says:

    The article doesn’t tell the amount that people give on average. This means that poor people may give the same amount as rich people. That amount would make up a higher percentage of the poor person’s income, giving the impression that poor people give more money than wealthy people.

    That being said, when I lost my job I was taken in by friends so that I didn’t have to live on the street. I am very grateful to my friends, and find mysef being more generous to others in need, even with the little I now have, because I am more conscious of what it is like to be in dire financial straits.

  33. Sam2k says:

    Let’s see…a family making 10,000 a year is going to pay virtually nothing in taxes. A family making 158,000 is going to pay at least 30,000 in taxes. I wonder how much that “rich” family would donate if it wasn’t already donating to the government? After all, it seems that many government programs are essentially performing functions that private sector charities should be performing…

  34. Andrew Farris says:

    The poor also benefit themselves much more from charity than do the rich, which in turn leads them to understand 1) what charitable giving is useful in their neighborhoods and what ultimately has a small contribution back to their well being, and 2) a stronger desire to help those around them in similar circumstances. I do believe some charitable giving is truly selfless, but the vast majority is not.

    Unfortunately… it is also the case that when things get extremely bad, the poor tend to hurt each other (tragedy of the commons). Riots almost always occur in areas where separation of wealth is most apparent, and generally cause more damage to the poorer side of the separation. Poor people are more likely to steal from other poor people or from shops within their own neighborhoods if they steal at all. Why? Because malcontent with your circumstances has nothing to do with the actual ‘quality of living’ and everything to do with personal accountability, responsibility, and solid ethics (whether moral, religious, or otherwise reinforced).

    I think it is interesting that an article about a simple percentage of charitable giving stirs up such a heated discussion and showcases the worst of so many people posting. So it is a statistic with obvious bias and questionable formulation. Big deal. How does this change what you think about the giving of the rich or the plight of the poor? My guess is it doesn’t effect anyone deeply, because you all have foregone conclusions on that already.

    • Cicada says:

      @Andrew Farris: Interesting point. I come from a family who doesn’t have a lot of money, and we always gave to charity because we understood how easy it was to fall through the cracks. It was less about potentially benefiting from the charity, and more about empathizing with the people who needed it. My mom always said “We give because we’re lucky”.
      It also makes a difference when the charity you’re giving to is having an impact in your community. You actually see the good your money is doing. I donate to the food bank in my neighborhood not because I think I’ll use their services, but because I found out my elderly neighbor was.

      I have to point out that poor people steal from other poor people because they live in the same areas and poor people don’t have the same amount of security alarms and police protection that wealthy people do. It is a question of access. Likewise, wealthy people steal from other wealthy people because they have access. The only difference between stealing a car stereo and securities fraud is access.

  35. Onion_Volcano says:

    My son died of brain cancer. I asked the American Cancer Society for help during his treatmet but they refused as I made too much money(I just wanted some gas cards, which they offered me and later rescinded their offer) so if the American Cancer Society wont help a family with a dying kid, who do they help? It’s not easy to fund 200 mile trips 2-3 times a week, plus hotels, plus food, plus your regular mortgage and expenses.

    That is why I don’t give to charity any more. I’ll donate my time, but not my money.

  36. AshleyKeen says:

    I call shenanigans on their statistics. I’m guessing they’re only accounting for $’s given through registered 501c(3) corporations — not counting dollars given directly to needy persons or unregistered organizations.

    So basically, if I go donate $50,000 to The American Red Cross — even though a significant portion of that might go to Salaried employees of the organization, it looks better on their statistics than cutting a $50,000 check to a local, unregistered ministry that isn’t a burden on the taxpayer and addresses the local needy head-on.

    … Ooooookaaaaay then.

  37. BrewMe says:

    4.3% of $10,531 is $452.83
    2.1% of $158,888 is $3336.648

  38. econobiker says:

    Most rich/wealthy folks give to charitable trusts which they control and allows them to pass on a portion of their wealth tax free to their children by employing their children for -life- to manage the trusts even after the parents die. The trusts also purchase vehicles etc for the children and/or other managers.

    And this allows them to donate to ~their~ causes versus giving to charity in general.

  39. jcargill says:

    Probably because the poor are always so close to those in need, which inspired them to give more.

  40. nicolebuckingham says:

    Exactly why I (generally) don’t give money to charities. I’ll volunteer my time. I’ll donate some old wares and gently used clothing, but I don’t give money. Am I evil? Selfish? Un-American? No, I just realize that I’m not well-off enough to just go throwing money around everywhere. If I hear a story about a family that’s tragically killed and there’s not enough money for funeral expenses…I’ll give money to that specific funeral fund. Anything else, I volunteer time (which is money). Besides, I’m generally suspicious of “charities” anyway.

  41. JadoJodo says:

    Typo: Second paragraph, fourth line, first word: “Ameicans” – Not ridiculing, just pointing it out to be fixed.

  42. HogwartsAlum says:

    They could give it to me. I need a new refrigerator.