I heard a long time ago that people in the US are the most generous when it comes to charitable giving. So I thought I'd do a little bit of research today.
Did you know that as a whole, the US gave $303.75 BILLION to charity in 2009? Over $200 billion of that giving was by individuals. Most of the money given charitably goes directly to the people it is meant to help, as most charitable organizations are very careful with how they spend the money entrusted to them. (Charitable giving #s: http://www.philanthropy.iupui.edu/news/2010/06/pr-GUSA2010.aspx)
Did you know that the government takes in $2,650 BILLION in income taxes each year? In 2008, the government spent $25,000 per household. And yet, where has that money gone? According to the budget, only $789 billion is allocated to health and human services, including medicaid, social security, feeding the hungry, etc. And yet, when you look at the actual budgets, only about $25 billion is actually going to health centers and feeding children--the rest is spent on research and instituting programs. (The president's budget: http://www.whitehouse.gov/omb/budget_fy2009_default)
After all, we do have a government that doesn't mind wasting $100 Million a year on unused plane tickets. A government that will pay $1/2 million to ship two 15 cent washers to another state. The vast majority of our tax dollars are NOT being used to feed the hungry or help the poor. They are being wasted. (Government fraud #s: http://hoguenews.com/?p=4834)
And I find it interesting that the income reports submitted by presidential candidates shows that the ones who are most for government programs actually give the least, while those who are for cutting government back spend the most. (Compare Obama's 5% with George W. Bush' 10+%--yes, I think Bush is a tither!). The big takeaway here is that we know a tree by its fruit. The people who really care about helping people are helping people with their own dollars--ie Bush. The people who are just giving the idea lip service are depending on the rest of us to do the giving. (Income vs giving reports: www.2timothy42.org/Blog/Media/Presidential-Giving.pdf)
Think about this...how much more would you give if you had more of your paycheck? What if you were given a dollar for dollar tax credit for charitable contributions? It seems that if we REALLY want to help people, we'll advocate for decreased government involvement and make sure that our dollars go where they will do the most good.