So how much should people give to charity?
There are a great couple of video clips on tacticalphilathropy.com
In case you didn’t know, Peter is a professor of bioethics at Princeton University and his new book combines a look at the philosophy of giving along with some practical guidelines on living a good life.
His view is that inaction can be as bad as actively doing wrong. It goes something like this…
It’s bad that people die from preventable diseases, lack of food and dirty water.
If you can do something about it, without really losing out, and you choose not to, you are rather unpleasant.
But he goes a little further than this, laying down a few guidelines on what you should be giving to charity. if you are ‘moderately comfortable’ (earning about £100,000 a year) you should be giving away 5% of your income. If you are rich, you should be giving away a great deal more.
To Peter, all charities are not equal. He believes:
“Philanthropy for the arts or cultural activities is, in a world like this one, morally dubious.”
He cites the purchase of Madonna and Child by Duccio di Buoninsegna by the Metropolitan Museum of Art for $45 million dollars as an example of this. For the same amount, 900,000 blind people could have their sight restored through cataract operations.
He goes on to ask:
“If the museum was on fire, would anyone think it right to save the Duccio from the flames, rather than a child?”
If this argument grabs you, you can sign up to pledge at his web site (1,678 people already have). But this is all a preamble for an entertaining interview where he tries to persuade the rather well off, Stephen Colbert to give a little more to charity.
The second clip is from an older story. It’s of a man who sued the American Muscular Dystrophy Association for $1 million because he believed he missed out on a golfing prize (along with a piece on how people working with charities get the babes).