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Monday, December 5, 2016

Do we need still another reason to raise taxes on the wealthiest Americans? Fresh moral support for higher levies on the top bracket arrived today from the Chronicle of Philanthropy, which reports that charitable giving among the rich fell during the Great Recession – yet rose simultaneously among the poor, middle class, and working families that had much less to give.

It is a remarkable set of statistics, drawn from IRS data, which ought to shame every fat-cat who ever complained about the “47 percent,” or the “takers.” According to the Chronicle, those who earned more than $200,000 annually gave an average of 4.6 percent less between 2006 and 2012, while those who earned less than $100,000 gave an average of 4.5 percent more during that same period. (Because the rich were taking home a much greater share of national income during those years, however, the total amount they donated to charity nevertheless increased by $4.6 billion.)

And the very poorest Americans – from households that earned $25,000 or less per year – actually increased their giving by almost 17 percent.

Chronicle editor Stacy Palmer says that the economic downturn “was a shock” to the nation’s wealthiest taxpayers, who are “nervous and cautious” in their giving. By contrast, poor and working people, living only a step or two away from destitution, reached deeper into their pockets to help friends and neighbors whose troubles they witness every day.

Instead of hoping that the rich will provide charitable assistance where needed, we should tax them a bit more and avoid future cuts to food stamps, unemployment insurance, and other vital programs. (A 4 percent hike in the top rate sounds just right.) Meanwhile, the self-righteous swells can cease lecturing about the deficient character of the supposed takers – who are clearly the most virtuous and compassionate members of society.

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