Economics, Taxes, and Giving

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Yesterday I presented some ideas about education and employment. In the current climate, it's easy to see in those observations that capitalism can reveal selfish monsters. Indeed, one need not look far to uncover examples of greed and corruption in business. Some blame government, others blame a lack thereof. Both miss the reality that we, as humans, are fallen... greedy and selfish, prone to discrimination and abuse of others.

On the other hand, because business generates wealth, there are vast possibilities to produce good in the world. Learn more about Sonlight's commitment to giving.

Business also demands efficiency and outcomes. If pouring resources into a particular charity ends up not being helpful, those funds are shifted elsewhere. This is not the case, for example, with government, which has little accountability for the funds it collects. A similar fate tends to befall children who are given large inheritances (tabloids thrive on examples of this). Business owners, on the other hand, seek to be strategic in their giving, often refusing to be pulled into the latest hip cause like the rest of us.

Charity based on feelings is dangerous. I've been told that disaster areas, such as Haiti, still haven't recovered despite gobs of foreign aid. They were ill-equipped to make use of the funds and families are still struggling today. Other situations are made far worse when we give money to the cause. In one case, Americans sent mosquito nets to a country ravaged by malaria. But because the nets were made outside of the county in trouble, the local economy crumbled when a mosquito net factory had to close down as demand plummeted. Today, the business man and his 100 employees are out of work.

As the election season threatens to overwhelm us with dissonance, I have heard one thing about economics that fascinated me. It's a Planet Money podcast titled The No-Brainer Economic Platform. This is interesting to me because my parents are always looking for ways to give even more. But as politicians flood us all with debt, there is increasing talk about doing-away with charitable deductions. If that happened, and income tax was not also eradicated as suggest in the 30 minute podcast, suddenly the 50 cents of every dollar my parents earn to give to missions would, instead, go to fund government projects.

So many of the issues that surround us today have expensive economic ramifications. If your students are getting older, or you want to brush up on your understanding of the issues we face today, take a look at Sonlight's Economics Program. There's more to this than just money! And if you take half and hour to listen to the Planet Money podcast, I'd love to hear your thoughts.

 ~Luke Holzmann
Filmmaker, Writer, Empty Nester

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