Peter Singer on What We Who Have Most Should Give
Free Market Racism

The Measure of our Giving

On what should giving be contingent?

  • The rise and fall of the market?
  • Our income and net worth?  
  • Our fair share of the world's need?
  • The ability to give without sacrifice to the giver's other goals?
  • Our own level of ethical, spiritual, and political development or aspiration?
  • Our choice as sovereign producers, owners, and consumers?

Who is the most appropriate person to see about your giving?

  • Your spiritual advisor?
  • A philosopher of ethics, like Peter Singer?
  • Your financial consultant?
  • A nonprofit fundraiser?

My friend, Tracy Gary, an exemplary giver herself, who emailed me a link to an essay on giving by Peter Singer, closes her note with an offer to her friends, to help them with their year end giving at no cost.  A lousy business plan, but a stunning moral example. This giving business is a mystery, is it not? I wonder if we don't learn it more by example than precept. For Tracy, giving runs in the family. Her example honors those who came before, and nudges us to follow.  She has theories of giving and of social change, but for her giving comes as Keats said poetry does, "as naturally as leaves to the tree." Economic man is a dry stick.