Smile Politely

Trickle Down Charity

It looks like trickle-down economics has only seven more weeks of life left before Barack Obama is sworn in and shuts the party down. No more tax cuts for the wealthy so they can create jobs for the rest of us. No more relying on the self-interest of the powerful to accidentally and occasionally intersect with the welfare of others. We’ll be on our own, without the elites to look after us.

If this concerns you, take heart, for the Christmas season is upon us. After all, Christmas is about hope and faith, so what better time to validate your devotion to a theory that has been so thoroughly debunked? And Christmas is about giving too, so this may be your last opportunity for the next four years to show your faith in a bankrupt economic policy by combining it with year-end charity.

How so? Well, if you truly believe that tax cuts for the wealthy are the best we can collectively do for ourselves, the course is clear: Don’t give money to charities, which will just waste your money by distributing it to poor people in need. Instead, give your charity dollars to people who are already wealthy, who will in turn make life better for everyone else. After all, if the wealthy had even more money, they may end up hiring more people, many of whom live in this country, and some of those for wages that are higher than the minimum allowable by law.

Locally, I would suggest going through Krannert Center program inserts to identify all the people who gave more than $1,000, or copy down the names of people etched on the donor wall at the library. Look their names up in the phone book, and just send checks to them — whatever amount you would have wasted giving to local food shelters or homeless shelters.

If you have old winter coats or mittens, don’t drop them off at Goodwill, as they would just make their way to needy children. Instead, drive around the wealthier neighborhoods of southwest Champaign, look for the biggest houses, and drop off your spare clothes there. They might have maids or gardeners they could afford to hire if they could pay them with used clothes.

Or, if you are uncomfortable giving money to individuals, there are plenty of businesses here in town that are probably still making a profit, even during this economic downturn. Find out which companies are doing the best, and then send them money. If trickle down really works, I’m sure they would be more than willing to share their profit with competitors that aren’t doing as well. People and institutions always do the right thing when they are flush with cash.

As for me, I guess I’m just not smart enough to figure out how this works. I will stubbornly continue to support organizations that are mandated to serve others, rather than maximize profit. I used to feel out of step about this. But come January 20th, I think I’ll finally feel good about it again.

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