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Letters to the Editor

From time to time, a commentary on the world will bubble up inside of me to the extent that I'm forced to write a letter to my local, metropolitan, daily newspaper, The Age. This is where I blow of some steam. Feel like venting too? Add your own comment or visit my homepage.

Monday, July 28, 2003

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Philanthropy or Misanthropy?

In Gregory Hywood's opinion piece ("Why Australians don't feel very charitable", The Age, 24/7) he holds up the US model of personal and corporate philanthropy as something to which we should aspire.

Canadian philosopher John Ralston Saul explains that the US approach - while good for the soul - is woefully inefficient. It can cost up to six times more to raise funds this way than through taxation, while the taxpayers still contribute around eighty percent of the money. Their "reversion to charity has brought with it, to a degree not seen even during the Renaissance, an indulgence of the ego of donors".

Would the fifteen percent contributed by wealthy benefactors, corporates and foundations offset the costs of fundraising? Would the money be better directed at the public good if guided by the wealthy, or by representative governments?

We should look very hard at such questions before once again going down the American path.