What’s in your wallet?

So this post is inspired by a trio of incidents and I feel it also dovetails nicely with Autumn’s post about Facebook. Recently I have had three experiences that question my politics in the form of charitable giving. The podcast (Slate’s Political Gabfest) I listen to regularly discussed a recent article in the New York Times that detailed President Obama and Vice President Biden’s tax information–how much they made in the past year and how much they paid in taxes. Perhaps a bit more juicy, the article also released the amount of money these men give to charities. Obama’s charitable giving was about 6% of his yearly income, whereas Biden’s was only about 1%. Personally I was also given the opportunity to use my California state tax refund for charity purposes, and attempted to change the form online to in fact do this, but was unable to figure out how to make the correct changes. And lastly, being that I spend my days on a college campus, I run into many organization volunteers wanting to take some of “your time” to talk about their goals and needs. This week I had a lovely and informative conversation with a representative from the ACLU, who told me about a 13 year-old girl getting stripped searched, torture memos, and the possibility that I as a teacher may lose my right to debate my students in the classroom. And yet again I wanted to contribute some money to the ACLU but I also did not want to give this total stranger my credit card information, which was what he requested. So at the end of the day I give less to good organizations I probably would whole-heartedly believe in than ole’ Joe. And it makes me question my politics. Am I doing enough to make an impact on the world around me? Can I get more involved both with my time and dollars with organizations I care about? Let me know what you think.

And off topic, once more I highly recommend two exhibitions, which I only wish I could go visit:

The Pictures generation was a huge influence on my art historical training, and fractured the art scene in New York in the 70s and 80s. Check it out at the Met.

And at the ol’ ball and chain MoMA slips in some Latin Americans–a brilliantly funny and derisive Argentine and an intimate, visceral Brazilian.

Posted by: mariola

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2 responses to “What’s in your wallet?

  1. If you wanna give to charity, I would find a more localized charity to give to. No offense to the ACLU, but you should look into where donations are being allocated. Especially with bigger organizations like that, sometimes they can be a bit shady. I’m not saying the ACLU is shady, just always find out exactly where your money is going.
    I think it is better to give your money to someone small, and local, where it would really make a change.

    Or try Kiva, send your money to third world countries, and you can see how it is actually being used.

    Personally, I have no money to give to charity. But if I have leftovers, I usually try to find a homeless person and offer it to them.

  2. i choose to zero in on 2-3 organizations that i believe in and consistently give to them, preferring those charities that focus on empowerment, so that actual change occurs. a couple of tools that can help sort out which are best are charitynavigator.org and the american insititute of philanthropy. they don’t necessarily agree in how they rate charities, but i think they’re a good start.

    i never give to those random organizations that stop you on the street. it’s just too risky.

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