Ah yes, don’t discuss religion and politics it is often said. And why not? They’re a pretty big part of our total being. At stake, are our livelihood and spiritual lives.
The “politics” thing, however, does have me walk with some care on a rocky and sometimes perilous path in these days of political topics so hot as to be overheated. The all-too-frequent appearances on television of the “talking heads” with their polar opposite arguments keep the flames burning, and one of the arguments making the rounds these days does particularly tick me off.
That is the strong and intrusive idea of what to do with the money earned by the rich. Many are belligerent about those who are “too” rich. Whatever that means. These are the same firebrands who mostly cannot state exactly what level of income earned by people is “too much,” or how much should be taken from them.
Who decides this anyway?
I have a strong and unwavering opinion regarding the “get-the-rich” drive by all too many people in the U.S. And it’s an opinion based neither on left nor right, nor progressive, nor capitalist, ideology.
With nearly 40 years as a non-profit fund-raising professional under my belt, I have never seen or heard about a single building construction or a renovation of a facility for any charity whether it be food bank, nursing home, abuse or homeless shelter, animal rescue facility, education structure, arts and culture building, religious facility, hospital, etc. which was not paid for with contributions mainly and mostly from the rich.
Most always, such fund-raising campaigns have about 85% or more of the money raised coming from only about 15% or less of the donors. That funding ratio counts on there being people capable of making large gifts—the rich. If we had to rely on the middle class, even at its higher end, it would be a long wait for those capital projects. Nor can we expect the poor to be able to provide a lion’s share of the needed funds. After all, they are the ones in need—the ones the rich are making gifts to benefit.
Without the rich and a tax code that encourages giving, philanthropy as we know it would most likely take a drastic downturn. If we tax all their social capital away from the rich, we may find ourselves relying on a single funder—the government—to support the social good delivered by non-profit organizations. I, for one, am not ready to go that route.
Let’s take care that we don’t eliminate the goose that lays the golden egg by declaring war on the concept of being rich.