Tahlequah Daily Press

Editorials

August 31, 2012

Middle class, not 1 percent, props up our charities

TAHLEQUAH — A study released last week by the Chronicle of Philanthropy probably won’t reveal many surprises for Cherokee Countians who head up or volunteer for charitable agencies. Still, it does include a few noteworthy details, which you can check out yourself at http://tinyurl.com/8pur7ow.

For instance, states whose citizens are less religious than those of other states are comparatively tight-fisted when it comes to charitable giving. This could have something to do with religious upbringing. Based on scriptural imperatives, many Christian churches are encouraged to “tithe” 10 percent of their incomes (whether discretionary or total depends on the denomination) to their churches. Roman Catholics are urged to “give alms” of collectively about that percentage to both the church and worthy charities.

 The survey showed that Utah – base of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints – was the most generous, with the average resident donating 10.6 of his or her discretionary income to charity (but 3.9 percent of total income). The stingiest state was New Hampshire, parting with just 2.5 percent of total income. With the average U.S. donations being 4.7 percent of total income, Oklahoma does a little better; on average, we donate about 5.6 percent of our total income.

Given the religious quotient, one might expect “red states” to donate more than “blue states,” and that is, indeed, what happens – not because of party lines, but because red states tend to have more religious folks living in them. However, people in blue states profess to be more willing to pay extra taxes to help the less fortunate than their neighbors in red states. This would seem to indicate different ways of thinking in terms of how people help their needy peers: through government mandates, or willingness to donate of their own volition.

Perhaps the most interesting part of the survey, however, deals with the wealthiest Americans – the so-called “job creators” – and how they address charitable contributions. Not only are the richest Americans loathe to pay more taxes to further contribute to society, they’re also giving a far smaller percentage of their discretionary incomes to charity. In both cases, middle-class Americans are picking up the lion’s share of the tab.

Households earning $50,000 to $75,000 give, on average, 7.6 of their discretionary income to charity; those making $100,000 or more give only 4.2 percent of their incomes to charity (or 4.7 percent of discretionary). Furthermore, people who live in swanky neighborhoods with other wealthy individuals are even less likely to be generous to charities. When folks whose incomes amount to more than $200,000 make up more than 40 percent of the taxpayers in a given ZIP code, the rich give a paltry 2.8 to charity. This is yet more evidence that the much-ballyhooed “1 percent” don’t always pull their share of the load when it comes to community and country – although when they rub elbows with their middle-class peers, that association seems to nudge them toward generosity.

The most critical of the study’s findings, however, is that tax incentives really do make a difference. When states enact policies that promote charitable giving, more people give, and in larger proportions.

Last year, the Oklahoma Legislature and governor floated the idea to eliminate deductions for charitable giving. Fortunately, it didn’t get far, but its proponents have threatened to reintroduce the measure. Their motive is clear: These deductions aren’t important to those who propose their elimination, because those folks don’t give enough to make a substantial difference on their tax refunds.

Oklahomans aren’t among the richest Americans, but on the whole, they don’t do too shabby of a job taking care of one another. That’s especially true in areas like Cherokee County, where many struggling families need all the help they can get.

The people who need the tax breaks – on both the state and national level – aren’t the 1 percent. They’re the middle class folks, who have on yet another level been lifted up as the backbone of society.

1
Text Only
Editorials
  • Community cleanups a good way to ensure our collective success

    This is our community – and it’s no better than what we make it. Let’s make it look great.

    April 16, 2014

  • Attack at school in Pennsylvania: Mental illness root of problem

    Washington’s crusade against guns was dealt a severe blow on Wednesday. No, it wasn’t the Supreme Court curtailment of the Second Amendment right of all Americans to own firearms. It wasn’t an executive order handed down by the administration. It was the brutal assault by a high school student in Pennsylvania against his fellow students – with a knife.

    April 14, 2014

  • People with faulty zippers should be booted from office

    We may forgive, but we shouldn’t forget, because there’s serious work to do in Washington. That work will never be accomplished as long as flawed zippers - literally or figurately – are a pervasive problem.

    April 11, 2014

  • Do your part to fight animal and child abuse

    It’s hard to change the habits of an abuser, especially when mitigating factors – such as alcohol or drugs – are involved. And these patterns tend to repeat themselves in successive generations. But all of us can take one small step to help eradicate this epidemic, and that is to report it when we see it.

    April 9, 2014

  • NSA head lies to Congress, and seems to get away with it

    Is there an obvious pattern of criminality within these governmental agencies? If so, why isn’t the Judicial Department investigating?

    April 7, 2014

  • Pass for rich kiddie rapist proves that justice isn’t blind

    Someone in Wilmington, Del., needs to keep an eye on Superior Court Judge Jan Jurden for the next few months, because she might improve her standard of living due to a sudden influx of cash.
    There’s no other way to explain why Jurden would have sentenced an ultra-wealthy heir to the du Pont fortune to probation for raping his 3-year-old daughter. It’s an outrageous miscarriage of justice that once again proves when it comes to the U.S. justice system, the elite get a pass almost every time.

    April 4, 2014

  • Maybe it’s not $3.2B, but state should still account for tribal cash

    In an editorial published last week, the Daily Press said that through tribal compacts, the state of Oklahoma received about $3.2 billion in annual revenue, partly attributable to the 117 casinos (or 118, in some reports) run by 33 tribes in the state. The information we accessed for that piece was confusing, and had a typo or two, which may have led us to overstate – to a considerable degree – how much money the tribes actually give the state.

    April 2, 2014

  • Tribal compacts should mean state has money to perform its functions

    Oklahoma should be rolling in the dough. The statistics bear that out. Thirty-three American Indian tribes operate 117 casinos in this state. Thanks to “compacts,” these tribes have been sharing the wealth with the state of Oklahoma. And thanks to the casinos, that wealth is substantial.

    March 28, 2014

  • It’s time to turn in your candidate announcements

    If you are running for a political office for which Cherokee County voters can cast ballots, it’s time to turn in your announcement. We’ve already run a few, and expect several more. The primary elections are Tuesday, June 24, with the registration period to vote in this election closing Thursday, May 30.

    March 24, 2014

  • Mom responsible for watching kid; restaurant’s not

    If you allowed your child to drink a bottle of drain cleaner, would you feign surprise when he fell to the floor, twitching and foaming at the mouth? If you left your curling iron within reach of your baby and she pulled it off the vanity and burned her hand, would you plan revenge on the store that sold you the appliance?
    You just might, if you’re among the litigious Americans who have abdicated parental responsibility to either sloth or the hope of a better tomorrow through a cash settlement.

    March 19, 2014

Poll

What to you think of a state Legislature proposal to forbid cities from raising the minimum wage? Choose the closest to your opinion.

The federal government should set the minimum wage across the board.
States should be allowed to raise their minimum wages, but not cities.
Both states and cities should be allowed to raise their minimum wages.
Cities should be allowed to raise their mimum wages, but not states.
There should be no minimum wage at all.
Undecided.
     View Results
Tahlequah Daily Press Twitter
Follow us on twitter
AP Video
Deadly Avalanche Sweeps Slopes of Mount Everest Police Arrest Suspect in Highway Shootings Drought Concerns May Hurt Lake Tourism Vermont Goat Meat Gives Refugees Taste of Home Calif. Investigators Re-construct Fatal Bus Cras Mayor Rob Ford Launches Re-election Campaign Appellate Court Hears Okla. Gay Marriage Case Author Gabriel Garcia Marquez Dead at 87 Beau Biden Plans 2016 Run for Del. Governor Chelsea Clinton Is Pregnant Horseless Carriage Introduced at NY Auto Show Obama Hopeful on Ukraine, Will Watch Russians Flamingo Frenzy Ahead of Zoo Construction Crew Criticized Over Handling of Ferry Disaster Agreement Reached to Calm Ukraine Tensions Raw: Pope Francis Performs Pre-easter Ritual Boston Bombing Survivors One Year Later Sister of Slain MIT Officer Reflects on Bombing
Stocks