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The Tradition of Charity


The Tradition of Charity

Ralph Nader

The old saying “it’s better to give than to receive” is often recited around the holidays when it comes to the tradition of gift giving. This type of giving is usually centered on small, personal gifts such as items of clothing, books, and delicious food. But the saying can apply to the rewards of giving beyond friends and family. Our generosity can also include long-lasting ways to benefit society now and in the future. We must ask ourselves what gifts we want to give to future generations so that their lives can be nourished.


Mr. Nader, you make me think every time I read your writings. Thank you very much are not good enough words to express my real feelings about how great you are. There is much charity in what you contribute to this world.


I think about the 'big box' scandals continually unfolding, not much said about the ubiquitous premise of municipalities promising years of tax breaks, the undermining of local commerce, cheap goods from labor abuses in supply chains in impoverished countries inflated into their business model.

I stopped buying at the big boxes for these reasons. I'd rather buy second hand. Screw the 'latest fashion' that is set up to claim ignorance about abuses of all the people impoverished by the delusional 'economic' model.


Would an individual who dedicated himself so thoroughly to improving the human condition exist in Ralph Nader were it not for such sterling fatherly instruction?

How many kids today hear their fathers brag about who they ripped off or otherwise get a sense that being the top dog is all that matters.

Philanthropy does serve posterity, and it's a way for the wealthy to give back particularly following the various robber-baron style eras. Given today's congressional decisions in the way of fiscal priorities (see Bill Moyers' article), the robber-baron cycle of the 21st century is well underway.


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While charity is obviously preferable to no charity, it's a poor substitute for justice. Charity is about the giver, not the receiver, who remains in a client state relative to the donor. It is almost never systematic and is subject to whimsical retraction at any time. By stripping receivers of virtually all agency, it renders recipients less than human and often reduced to the status of pets.

Fight for justice. Encourage, but don't fight for, charity.

Even when I was a liberal, I was never comfortable with the liberal's emphasis on charitable works. It was far too patronizing for my taste.


Sorry but when I saw the story about the Red Cross and Haiti there are a lot of questions. Just like the Clinton's-people who run charities seem very well off.- Its kind of strange when the police call asking for some donations,what happens if I say NO. People point out how important it is to have a sticker on your car saying you support the police. Every time I go through a check out line how much do I want to donate today? When checking these charities out most of the money is spent on raising money.

Communities in this country are destroyed by capitalism. We need real support systems in our neighborhoods-but this would be organizing real people for real problems.


I too think charity is a good thing. But charity never has and never will eradicate poverty. Capitalism never has and never will eradicate poverty. In fact, capitalism actually admits that it doesn't care, and, that it is not responsible for the poverty it causes. For capitalists, poor people deserve poverty according to the dog-eat-dog fight for survival ethic .
So the greatest "charity" we could do for each other is to create an economic system where poverty is eradicated. We could do it, but we all know why this isn't even considered for a moment. Human ignorance creates our sufferings - human wisdom helps solve them.


You hit the nail on the head there, Cookies.

Philanthropies are capitalism's dismal substitute for socialism's egalitarian distribution of wealth.

Ask not charity from the capitalist. Oppose and replace him with a government of, by and for the people.

Bill Gates' and Warren Buffet's charities are nothing more than ego trips and advertisements for capitalism, susceptible to withdrawal at any time.

A socialist government's legal responsibility to provide assistance to the needy endures.

I'm surprised at Ralph's unabashed accolades for philanthropy.


From the Great Depression until it was nixed in 1986 "tax reform" (that Democrats continue to remind us was bipartisan and a great model for Obama's upcoming "tax reform") every US income tax payer could deduct charitable contributions, thereby making the choice of where those contributions go much more in line with the values of the low and middle income tax payers.

Since 1986 only businesses and taxpayers who choose to itemize deductions are allowed to deduct charitable contributions (how many of you reading this itemize ?) , hence the flow of money to charity during the past three decades has been mostly from corporations whose values dictate how those charities operate.

New Deal programs and other "domestic" programs funded by taxes are indeed the preferred way to fund what the majority of Americans need. Private foundations and other charitable organizations are too often just tax shelters that enable corporations to expand influence and profitability. The Facebook founder's LLC disguised as a charity confirms just how perverse the whole charity racket has become.


Of course the giving is laudable, and Mr Nader is an exceptional human being whom I admire, but first, with a decent tax system, there would not be such obscenely rich "philanthropists" as they would contribute to public services. Secondly, many like Bill Gates are praised for their contributions, but look how skewed they are towards eg charter schools, not public welfare. Remember some of the providers of libraries in US towns were very much against Unions, solidarity, decent wages for their own workers. They exerted control by their gifts.