Things I’d like to do before I die:
Archive for December 2008
Things I’d like to do before I die:
This post – long in the writing and editing and research process – is partly inspired by a recent series at Oakbrook, where our pastor prayed the prayer, “Lord, Make Us Generous.” It was an awesome message to our people about the dangers of three specific obstacles: Lack of Perspective, Lack of Margin, and Lack of Imagination.
In these services, we definitely contrasted the consumeristic lifestyle that most Americans live, compared to what the role of a Christ-follower SHOULD be. The Bible says that we should be helping the needy, feeding the hungry, providing care for orphans and widows, and giving to the poor.
And while I am 100% in total agreement with the teaching of anti-consumerism, I am also one who likes to know the facts and figures and trends behind things – so I looked them up.
According to a Reuters report, charitable giving by Americans was up in 2007 to a record $306 Billion dollars. This is a 4% increase over 2006. Of that figure, $229 Billion came from individuals. The rest came from the following sources (quoted from the story).
The second-leading source of donations were foundation grants at $38.5 billion. Other sources were $23 billion from bequests and $15.7 billion from corporations, which was down by an inflation-adjusted 1 percent from 2006.
But how about across the globe? Surely Americans, with their selfish, capitalist, consumeristic lifestyles are slacking in the charity department, right? WRONG. Americans lead the world in charitable giving. Since it would be unfair to compare direct dollars-to-dollars giving among countries (differences in curreny exchange, economic systems, cost of living, etc.), the Charities Aid Foundation did a study where they compared nations by a comparison of their GDP (Gross Domestic Product). This is a much fairer way to compare. Here’s wat they found:
- United States, 1.4% of GDP
- UK, .73%
- Canada, .72%
- Austrailia, .69%
- South Africa, .64%
- Ireland, .47%
- Netherlands, .45%
- Singapore, .29%
- New Zealand, .29%
- Turkey, .23%
- Germany, .22%
- France, .14%
So Americans are TWICE as charitable as the next highest country in the world! Does that surprise you?
So what kind of person gives to charity? What is a determining factor in people’s willingness to give? John Stossel recently explored that in his column, Who Gives To Charity? Among his findings are that conservative states and conservative individuals give an average of 30% more to charitable organizations than our progressive-minded friends do.
Why do people give? This study, reported on by the Christian Science Monitor, sheds some light. It shows that giving is not related to tax breaks or selfish-incentives. It also hints that charitable giving is built in to the American psyche, as income level seems to make no difference in charitable giving. People will give regardless of their income status.
So again – I’m not trying to defend consumerism and materialism – and I definitely agree with the teaching by Mark and from Oakbrook in general, I also don’t think we should allow that effort to blind us to the fact that we are – by every measure of comparison – the most generous and charitable people in the world. Does this mean we can kick back and be satisfied that we give 1.4% of our GDP to charity? Absolutely not. We are far from where we should be.
What do you think?
(moved this discussion over to the blog after it got quite lengthy on the status updates!)
Jeremy: I know I’m not the first to say it, but still…what if the Government just bought $17B worth of cars? Wouldnt that be of more help?
Randy Bennett: heh i think your onto something but dont you think padding people’s pockets is more lucrative. buy cars and help the economy…pshh why would Bush want to end out on a high note.
Richard Wright: I am usually not one to comment on politics but think about this…….When I took Government in school I was taught the President could not pass anything with out a passing vote from the House and Senate. Bush hasn’t done anything alone except maybe the war but that too was passed by Congress. I know, I know, lets all hate Bush…….It is the trendy thing to do. No I did not vote for the man but that doesn’t mean that if I burn breakfast it is his fault.
Jeff Bennington: In a recent response to a comment at AboveTopSecret.com, I made the following comments about the Presidents ability to bring change. Of course I believe inspiring change and making change happen are 2 different things. Anyway, here is what I wrote….
“I hear you brother! There isn’t any evidence that a President in recent history has actually … Read Morekept in touch with the reality of his constituents. A Pres. has so many voices… so many influences and forces coming at him that it is impossible for him to listen to all of that input and not be influenced himself. And I do not believe that those voices (i.e. his cabinet, advisors, and business leaders) are meek and mild! The Pres. is not the only one in Washington with an agenda. And I’m sorry, but I don’t think anyone could hold up to the kind of pressure that he will be under by those voices… the powers that be.
If the Pres. actually had the nerve and stamina to hold his own for four years, we would be in a different country right now. If it was that easy to remain true to the American public, than we would still be a republic rather than a Businesstocracy. But we are not the republic; we are not a democracy. America has been duped! And if you watched how … Read Moreecstatic and happy the voters were whenever Barrack spoke, no matter what he said, it is obvious that we have not learned a single single thing about how politicians work. What has he said that is new? What part of tax relief, health care, budget balancing or jobs for all have we not heard before? Listen, the Pres. is no longer in a position to make a difference for the American people. Barrack will find that out soon enough and he will be just as disillusioned as we are! http://www.chasingthegiants.com”
Roland Walker Rydstrom: sadly, i just read in the new york post that oprah is now buying a home in georgetown to be closer to b.o. i can’t WAIT to see all the great change she helps him bring. UGH!
and jeremy: i’m ALL ABOUT this plan for our government to buy the cars. ruthie and truck can have the new pacifica and i’ll just take theirs used!
Richard Wright: If we want to look at how the economy has taken a crapper lets start with the consumer. If a bank is willing to give me a loan for $400,000 to by a house but I only make $50,000 a year, is it smart to take the loan knowing that I will not be able to make the payments once my VARIABLE rate goes up? I am not saying that we are all to blame and the … Read Moreidiot banking is not, after all he also should not have approved that loan but a little common sense would have said get something I can truely afford instead of something that will impress others. I am not impressed that they were forclosed on and now my tax dollars are paying for their home when I bought within my means. In the military we have a saying “Common sense is not so common.” As a country we prove it everyday………..
This is an idea I’ve had for quite a few years now, long before the Big 3 automakers went to congress with their hands out. The idea stemmed from a trend in the musical instrument industry. When facing an influx of newer, cheaper competition from the overseas markets in the 1970’s, the first thing the american musical instrument manufacturers did was to cut corners on quality, trim expenses, and increase their ability for mass production (sound familiar?) This had the opposite effect they were looking for. With declining quality and service from the American brands, it actually encouraged musicians to try out the newer imports. But then, you see, many of the manufacturers realized (very late in the game, I might add – and very similar to the lessons learned by the “new Coke” fiasco) that their biggest assets to face this competetition were (1) their name, (2) their back catalog of quality products, and (3) their history, heritage, and connection with the American consumer.
So what did they do? Did they completely retool their factories, spend millions in R&D, and innovate new and exciting products? No, they didn’t. They re-released replicas of their finest vintage products! The importers could not copy their designs because they were patented and protected. So the manufacturers all now offer some sort of “vintage reissue” or “heritage” or “classic” lines of products now (and they ask top dollar for them, too, by the way.) So you can now buy a newer, solid state Fender guitar amp for $349 – OR – you can buy a Vintage Reissue ’65 Twin Reverb amp for $1,299. AND FENDER IS SELLING A TON OF THEM. The imports can’t compete because they don’t have the name, the history, the heritage, the design, or the “sound”. There is only ONE Fender Twin – and you can only buy it from Fender.
WHY THE HECK CAN’T AMERICAN CAR MANUFACTURERS DO THE SAME THING?
There is only one ’57 Chevy. One ’66 Mustang, ’56 Corvette, or ’55 Chrysler 300. Why not do a Vintage Reissue of them? (And I’m not talking about the modern homage like the recent Dodge Charger and Challenger, and Ford Thunderbirds. While those are cool, these are not what I’m talking about.) I’m talking about actual modern replicas of the old designs – exterior and interior.
Now, of course, I realize that certain modern adaptations would be both practical and necessary. Obviously, seat belts and air bags and ABS and modern sound systems, power door locks, air-conditioning, front wheel drive, etc, etc, etc would have to be allowed for. And modern materials like fiberglass would probably take the place of an all steel body. And engine specs, fuel economy and emissions standards would have to be worked out. BUT the whole idea is to stay as true to the original look and feel as humanly possible. WHAT COULD THE IMPORTS DO ABOUT IT? Absolutely nothing. They have no vintage back catalog of products to pull from.
Tell me people wouldn’t buy new cars that look like these! (Click a thumbnail for a little larger version and year/make/model)
In light of the runaway success of the movie, “Four Christmases” starring Reese Witherspoon and Vince Vaughn, I just wanted to announce to the world that my own personal Total Vince Vaughn Movie Exposure is at a comfortable count of 3.
The Internet Movie Database lists Vaughn as having acted in 34 features. I have seen For The Boys, (which hardly counts because he was basically an extra.) I have seen Rudy, where Vaughn played a minor character. I have seen The Lost World: Jurassic Park, in which Vaughn played Nick Van Owen. But that’s where the Vince Vaughn experience ends for me.
That’s right – no Swingers. no Zoolander. no Old School. no Starsky & Hutch, Dodgeball, or Anchorman. no Be Cool, Mr & Mrs Smith, or Fred Claus.
And I am just fine with that. I don’t find the man particularly funny, smart, or talented.
There ya go. I just needed to get that off my chest.