When it comes to charity, Quebec still can’t find its wallet
NationalPost.com – FullComment
Dec 15, 2011. Barbara Kay
Charity begins at home. But it isn’t supposed to end there. And yet it does end closer to home in some regions than in others. For the thirteenth year in a row of the Fraser Institute’s annual tracking report of generosity in the United States and Canada, Quebec has come out on the bottom of the generosity scale on the charity scale.
Of the provinces, Manitobans are the biggest givers, with 26% of those filing taxes donating to a registered charity and 0.89% of total income donated. Saskatchewan and Prince Edward Island tied for second place. PEI had a higher percentage of tax filers donating to charity than Saskatchewan (25 per cent vs. 24.7 per cent), while Saskatchewan had a higher percentage of total income donated to registered charities (0.72 per cent vs. 0.71 per cent). Ontario, Canada’s largest province, tied Alberta for fourth place with 24.2 per cent of its tax filers donating 0.74 per cent of total income to registered charities.
And then there’s Quebec. Oh dear. Only 21.7 % of Quebecers claimed donations to registered charities and gave only 0.30% of their total income to charities. Of the average dollar value, Alberta led with $2,112. And Quebec limped in at $606, half the national average of $1,399.
Lest Albertans and Manitobans get swelled heads, they should know that no Canadian provinces are a patch for generosity on the Americans. A full 26.6% of American tax filers donated to registered charities, compared to 23% of Canadians. Country-wide, Americans gave 1.32% of their aggregate personal income to charity, more than double the 0.64% that Canadians gave.
What’s up with these statistics? Well, one clue to deconstructing the Canadian figures and in particular Quebec’s lousy performance comes from the news release: “Utah was by far the most generous jurisdiction in North America, with 33.4 per cent of tax filers donating 3.09 per cent of the total income earned in the state—nearly three-and-a-half times the share of aggregate income donated by Canada’s top province (0.89 per cent), Manitoba.”
Syllogism #1: Mormons constitute about 60% of the state of Utah’s population. The LSD Church is heavy on charity. Mormons give a lot to charity. I’m not saying religion is the only factor, I’m just saying it can’t be a coincidence. In any case, many other reports show that observantly religious people in general give more to charity than non-religious people. America is in general a more religious country than Canada, and therefore a more generous country.
Syllogism two: Big governments assign all responsibility for social justice to the state. Smaller governments assign some responsibility to the state and some to the individual. Statism dampens the impulse to be generous at an individual level.
Quebec scores high – or rather low – on both syllogisms. Quebec is the least religious of the provinces (and in fact the most militantly anti-religious). Quebec is also the most statist (and highly taxed) of the provinces. Quebecers figure their taxes are taking care of all the social problems, or should be taking care of them, and it is therefore no surprise that they are the least likely to take responsibility for the afflictions of others. Which is a great argument against statism.
Syllogism three: Taking personal responsibility for alleviating the sufferings of others is the mark of a mature individual. Statism tends to suffocate the blessing of empathy. Statism promotes civic immaturity. One more in a long litany of reasons for working to bring down the size of government.
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