Strings-free cash for the poor?

A charity handing out money to the poor, no strings attached? The idea sounds ridiculous. But that is exactly what ‘Give Directly’ is doing in Africa with some surprising results: ‘The 25-year-old carpenter knew nothing of this until he came home one day to find that strangers had given his wife a mobile phone linked to a bank account. Next came a $1,000 windfall, which they were free to spend on whatever they liked. The idea sounds as extraordinary as throwing money out of helicopters. But this programme, and others like it, are part of a shift in thinking about how best to use aid to help the poorest. For decades, it was thought that the poor needed almost everything done for them and that experts knew best what this was.’ But then, from around 2000, a different idea started to emerge and take shape as governments started handing out small stipends to families to spend in whichever way they chose… This article titled, Pennies from Heaven, found in the Economist, details the rest of this journey as well as looking at some of the differences in result between money given with strings attached and that without. What do you think? Is it possible that in our desire to help the poor we have decided that we need to...

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Your Redistribution is Showing! Bill Gates and Warren Buffett (and you?) get in on the growing practice of promoting the well-being of others

Selling their possessions and goods, they gave… Acts 2:45 Look who’s practicing distribution, or probably a better word, redistribution. Warren Buffett, Bill Gates, Steve Case, Larry Ellison, T. Boone Pickens, & Walter Scott, Jr. just to name a few. For a good part of my life I have sought to spark imagination and discussion that there is another (and I argue, better) way to live.  Over the past decade I have specifically focused on bringing light to the reality that there truly is enough for all of our needs and suggested practical ways to start living accordingly.  Often I wonder what it would take to really live into that reality. There are certainly moments I question if it is even possible, if we are willing, if we are ready. Like any good work, it is rarely easy.  It is certainly a path scattered with discouraging moments.  But, when I am honest I realize that this journey of awakening, this journey of discovery, this journey of open-handedness, this journey of seeing ourselves in others and others in ourself, this journey of sacrifice to help our neighbor, is mostly filled with moments of sheer excitement. The ups and downs are intertwined in the mystery of “it’s happening” and “it’s not yet”. We have come far, too far to not keep going on what will be the...

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Charity and Taxation; The Economist: Sweetened Charity

There’s a very engaging article in the June 9 issue of the economist that deals with charities and their tax-exempt status. here are  two small paragraphs that I thought were very interesting for consideration. America has the most generous tax incentives for charity, and has the highest giving as a proportion of GDP, at 1.67%, according to a rare comparative study by Britain’s Charities Aid Foundation. Britain’s tax breaks for charity are the next-most-generous, and it had the second-highest share of charity to GDP, 0.73%, followed by Australia, 0.69%, which also has significant tax breaks. By contrast, the relatively weakly incentivised Germans give only 0.22% of GDP. The correlation is not perfect, though; despite their generous tax breaks, the French give just 0.14% of GDP. Overall, American donors give more than half of their charitable donations to religious organisations, according to a study by Mr Reich of Stanford University. Only a small part of total American giving was in any sense redistributive from rich to poorer people, the study concluded. The churches, synagogues and so on that received most of the money were typically attended by the donor, and thus could be interpreted more as a membership fee than an act of charity (the study did not include religiously linked charities engaged in good works under the heading of...

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The Economist: Render unto Caesar

THERE was a time when Devon Chang had difficulty reconciling his two chosen faiths: Christianity, which he embraced in 2005 at the age of 19, and the Communist Party of China, which had embraced him a year earlier. Did his submission to an almighty God not mean he must renounce the godless club of Marx and Mao? Not necessarily. A fellow convert’s university lecturer suggested that if all Communist Party members found Jesus, then Christianity could rule China. “So it’s a good thing for me to become a Christian,” Mr Chang reasoned. The party does not quite see it that way. Although people join the party more for career reasons these days than for ideological ones, it still officially forbids religious belief among its members. In practice, this has for some years been a “don’t ask, don’t tell” policy. But signs are now growing that the party is about to become tougher on believers within its ranks. And behind it might be Mr Chang’s notion of Christianity as a Trojan horse. If you can’t beat ’em… Experts say that, of China’s 1.3 billion people, 200m to 300m now practise religion (though the government admits to only 100m), and far more engage in the veneration of ancestors. The vast majority of the religious are Buddhists or Daoists. Estimates for the...

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