The American way of funding charitable work has always been suspect. It was always a means of showing off one’s wealth rather than a means of funding the process of helping the indigent, the underprivileged and the unfortunate. Even at the height of private giving, the US has possessed the most staggering poverty rates in the industrialized world. The hodge podge of charitable organizations never received the funding and the structural strength to remedy the problems they were erected to address. Absent taxation, people never gave enough.
And, now, even though the richest Americans have lost some of their net worth to the financial crisis that they largely created, the latest census data show that the income gap between the richest and the rest of the population continues to grow; in other words, the richest people in the world have not nearly lost as large a percentage of their wealth as have the rest of the world.
Thus, we have definitive proof, in numbers, that the American way of helping the underprivileged, funding the arts and building cultural institutions through charitable giving has been an unqualified failure.
This failure bespeaks a distrust of government–in effect, a distrust of ourselves as a society and as a nation–so profoundly inimical that we prefer failing as individuals to succeeding as a country.
But, hey, as long as I’m getting paid, who cares, right?