Welcome to European Tribune. It's gone a bit quiet around here these days, but it's still going.
Scruton was one of the lecturers who joined the staff of the Birkbeck College philosophy dept. while I was doing an evening class degree course there years ago. He was a smart guy, but already committed to the absurd dogmas of the Right. What a pathetic "argument" this is, significantly, it seems he doesn't bother to cite any evidence. Had he done some elementary checking he would have seen that the basis of his conclusion is just wrong.  Here are some of the relevant facts from Robert Reich's blog:

Friday, December 22, 2006
Charity Shouldn't Begin at Home

`Tis the season to be jolly and also to make donations to your favorite charity. This year's charitable donations are expected to total more than $200 billion, a new record. Some 80 percent of them are made now, in the final weeks of the year.

But lots of charitable dollars - especially from the wealthy, who have the most to donate - are going to culture palaces: to the operas, art museums, symphonies, and theaters where they spend much of their leisure time. They're also going to the universities they once attended and expect their children to attend, perhaps with the help of what's known as affirmative action for "legacies."

These aren't really charitable contributions. They're more like investments in the lifestyles the wealthy already enjoy and want their children to have, too. They're also investments in prestige - especially if they result in the family name engraved on the new wing of the art museum or symphony hall.

It's your business how you donate your money. But not entirely. Charitable donations are deductible from income taxes. This year, the U.S. Treasury will be receiving about $40 billion less than it would if the tax code didn't allow charitable deductions. Like all tax deductions, that gap has to be filled by other tax revenues or by spending cuts, or else it just adds to the deficit. (Not incidentally, the government now spends some $40 billion a year on Temporary Assistance for Needy Families, which is what remains of welfare.)

I can see why a contribution to, say, the Salvation Army should be eligible for a charitable tax deduction. It helps the poor. But why, exactly, should a contribution to the Guggenheim Museum or Harvard University?

Look, I'm all in favor of the arts, and I've spent a good portion of my adult life teaching in a university. I can see giving a charitable deduction to an art program or a scholarship program aimed at the poor. That's charity. But not to an arts palace that has nothing to do with the poor. Not long ago Lincoln Center had a gala dinner supported by the charitable contributions of the leaders of the hedge fund industry, some of whom will be receiving billion-dollar bonuses in the next few weeks. I may be missing something here, but this doesn't strike me as charity. I mean, poor New Yorkers don't often attend concerts at the Lincoln Center.

It turns out, in fact, that only an estimated 10 percent of all charitable deductions this year will be directed at the poor.


An F for Scruton.

Maybe it's because I'm a Londoner - that I moved to Nice.

by Ted Welch (tedwelch-at-mac-dot-com) on Thu Nov 8th, 2007 at 04:48:18 PM EST

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