Study suggests women more charitable than men

Via WSJ:

A new study, called Women Give 2010, from the Women’s Philanthropy Institute and the Center on Philanthropy at Indiana University, found that women are more likely to give to charity than men.

The study looked at single men and single women to determine if there are gender differences on giving. The study also broke the groups into income quintiles, with the lowest earning $23,509 or less and the highest earning more than $103,000.

The study found that women were more likely to give in every income category. At the top quintile, 96% of women in the study were likely to give compared with 76% for men.

Women also tend to donate more dollars. In the top quintile, women said they planned to $1,910 an year (this was in 2007, so the numbers may have come down since then, given the recession). That is more than twice the amount planned by men of the same income group.

The study doesn’t offer any explanations for the differences, aside from describing women’s rising earning power and education levels. Are men and women wired differently when it comes to charity? Would the results still hold true for millionaires? These questions have yet to be studied.


Reason and irrationality in monkeys

Hume wrote an essay on Reason of Animals. Unfortunately, the great expositor of logical oversights did not write on the unreasonableness of animals; I do not mean nonhumans’ conceptual deficiencies, but the faulty leaps of their rudimentary rationality which mirror our own errors. Laurie Santos fills the gap:

“The Word Warrior” is the number one result for the Google image search for “communist party”

For this post. To celebrate, here’s a picture of classical economist Jeremy Bentham:

Just once one of the top five Top Posts was popular because of something I actually, like, wrote, and not because there’s a funny picture with it. But I guess it’s better that Google directs people here than to a communist sympathizer.

Death by chocolate

If the lead doesn’t get you, the corporate spies will.


Ignoring for the distasteful way he framed his essay under a title alluding to Malcolm X’s comments on John F. Kennedy’s assassination, Tim Wise makes some plausible points about race and the economic crisis worthy of consideration. I’m not prepared to endorse other aspects of his analysis, but the “canary” section is, I think, insightful:

Most have probably heard of the way that canaries were once used by miners to check coal shafts for methane gas and carbon monoxide. These potentially deadly emissions being more immediately toxic to birds than people, the miners knew that if they released canaries in the mine and the canaries died, they too would be in danger before long. Over the years, the metaphor of the “miner’s canary” has been deployed by scholars who focus on the issue of race, such as Lani Gunier and Gerald Torres, whose 2002 book by that title explored the way that racial inequity has long served as a bellwether for coming social problems that would affect far more than just people of color.

Much as Guinier and Torres noted then, I would point out now, that in the midst of the faltering national economy we should understand how our inattention over the years to the warning signs of coming crisis explain much about how and why things got to be this bad. And those warning signs were ignored in large measure because they seemed not to impact white Americans, especially middle class and above whites. Because the pain was localized in low income and people of color communities, folks like Jeremy could choose to ignore it, not necessarily because they were insensitive or uncaring, let alone racist in the overt sense; but rather, because the immediate consequences weren’t evident to them, and so paying little attention was easy to do.

For instance, consider the current housing meltdown. Although the crisis is now being felt nationwide, in communities that are urban, suburban and rural, and by people across the color spectrum, things weren’t always that way. Nearly fifteen years ago, Michael Hudson detailed in his groundbreaking book, Merchants of Misery, the way that poor folks–disproportionately of color–were being gouged by high interest lenders on the secondary mortgage market, thanks to discriminatory lending practices. Likewise, community-based groups in places like North Carolina were taking on predatory lenders in the late 90s and early 2000s, like Citi, which was caught charging black families hundreds of thousands of dollars in additional mortgage payments over the life of their loans, by steering them into loan instruments that were more costly than necessary, even when those families could have qualified for lower interest rates.

Yet consistently, when activists would raise these issues, decry the racial and class unfairness inherent to these practices and call for regulations, most of the media, the public and lawmakers routinely ignored them. No national politicians campaigned on platforms to crack down on such policies, to strengthen fair lending laws, or to reign in the interest that lenders could charge. The market, they would insist, was sufficient to regulate these matters.

Of course, once it became apparent that lenders were not going to be heavily scrutinized or regulated when it came to these activities, high-cost mortgage instruments became even more prevalent, and began to spread, from the communities of color and poor communities where they had begun, to solidly middle class and largely white spaces too. Independent mortgage brokers, which are not regulated the way banks are, began to offer loans to consumers based on little if any paperwork to demonstrate the payments could be made. These lenders had little incentive to control such activity, since they were going to sell the loans in bundles to wealthy investors anyway. By the time families were in default and being foreclosed on, the brokers would have made their money and moved on. As a result of the spread of high-cost mortgages, folks in solid middle class counties like Suffolk and Nassau, on Long Island, are now facing higher foreclosure rates than residents in Brooklyn or Queens.

So in a very real sense, white ambivalence to the suffering of black and brown folks opened the floodgates to even more risky economic activity, and this time, in far whiter communities as well. Had racial inequity and injustice been seen as a problem early on, perhaps the market for such predatory loans would have been shut down or at least heavily regulated, thereby staving off crisis. Clearly, the millions of white folks who got roped into these instruments by lenders promising that everything would be alright are suffering today, precisely because the pain was not taken seriously when it belonged to someone else.

Historians declare FDR greatest president

Via the Washington Times:

For the fifth time in five surveys, Franklin D. Roosevelt tops a Siena College survey of the best U.S. presidents, the school said Thursday. Abraham Lincoln, George Washington, Theodore Roosevelt and Thomas Jefferson — the four faces of Mount Rushmore — are all runner-ups, according to 238 historians, presidential scholars and political scientists who participated in the Siena College Research Institute Survey of U.S. Presidents.

Since 1982, the Loudonville, N.Y., college has periodically asked scholars to rank American presidents on 20 categories, including imagination, foreign policy accomplishments, and ability to avoid crucial mistakes.

How could any thinking person rank Franklin Delano Roosevelt over Lincoln? The latter saw the country through an existential crisis perhaps more urgent than WWII. And he devoted a career to the abolition of the worst humanitarian crisis the world had yet seen, and perhaps will ever see, Atlantic slavery. Roosevelt failed to act decisively against either of the gross human disasters of his world. I am speaking of his silence on “Uncle Joe” Stalin’s war against his own serfs, and the Shoah.

FDR ignored the Holocaust for many years, for no other reason than the placation of anti-Semitic New Deal critics. Internally, Roosevelt half-heartedly suggested the State Department coordinate relocation of German Jews to Central America, but nothing became of the program, and he staunchly refused to grant asylum to refugees in the US. In 1939, he did nothing to answer the telegraphed requests for protection from thousands of Ashkenazis seeking to land the passanger freighter St. Louis in Florida. Those thousands were denied entry into the US, deported, and shipped back to Europe. Many would die in Nazi extermination facilities.

For his record on the Holocaust alone, Roosevelt’s name deserves connotations of infamy. Some of his apologists will acknowledge this, and change the subject to talk about the success of his economic programmes. Then, of course, there is the mobilization of industry for victory in WWII. But, regardless of whatever material benefits the New Deal might have affected, and regardless to the ultimate success of military Keynsianism, his approach to domestic politics should not be taken as a model by the liberal-minded. For Roosevelt also showed what might be called a flexible attitude towards autocracy. There are, of course, the unprecedented five terms he served and ran for. And it is commonly known that he tried to “pack” the Supreme Court with an additional three justices after certain policies of the New Deal were found to be unconstitutional.  Then there is the United States Executive Order 9066, which mandated the indefinite interment of Japanese Americans on no charge but ethnicity.

Roosevelt is not even among my forgivable presidents. To call him even a “good one,” let alone the best among the good, seems to me a surrender to cultural relativism. Vindicating Roosevelt not only forgives the racism and anti-Semitism of his culture, but absolves it of its sins.

Three ways that women are changing the world

Futurist  Annalee Newitz extrapolates predictions from current trends.