George Graham

Givers and Takers



The way the Republicans frame it, Americans basically belong in two groups – givers and takers. I’m sure you’ve heard of the infamous Mitt Romney speech about the 47 percent who sponge off the rest of the nation to survive. It’s a theme that keeps popping up in Republican policies.

In the classic Republican model, the government must nourish and sustain the givers so they can continue to bear the burden of the takers. And, according to this model, taxing the rich to feed the poor is heinous because it is the rich who provide jobs and charity for the poor.

It’s a model that has produced the most lopsided economy in many decades. The gap between America’s rich and America’s poor is huge – and getting wider every day.

But even among the most disadvantaged, there is often the sense that it is not up to the government to provide for the poor, that individuals are responsible for their neighbors’ welfare.

So how is that working for us?

According to an article in today, not so well. The article reports that the Chronicle of Philanthropy studied the issue and found the nation’s most affluent are reducing their charitable contributions, while low- and middle-income people are giving more. Here’s the breakdown:

Compared with 2006 — the year before the start of the Great Recession — Americans who earn less than $100,000 per year contributed 4.5 percent more of their incomes to charity (in 2012). Meanwhile, those with incomes between $100,000 and $200,000 reduced their giving by 3.3 percent, and Americans earning more than $200,000 cut back their donations by 4.5 percent (see chart above).

The article observes that lower and middle income people gave more despite watching their incomes decline while the rich gave less as their wealth and income soared.

We’ve known for a while that enriching the rich does not create jobs. Now we know that it doesn’t stimulate charity either.

It seems clearer and clearer that the government must step in to level the playing field, doesn’t it?

Click for the article in Salon.

About the author


I am a Jamaican-born writer who has lived and worked in Canada and the United States. I live in Lakeland, Florida with my wife, Sandra, our three cats and two dogs. I like to play golf and enjoy our garden, even though it's a lot of work. Since retiring from newspaper reporting I've written a few books. I also write a monthly column for