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Aug 29, 2006


Jef Newsom

After the Tsunami in 2004, I heard about a site called Charity Navigator on the radio. It provides some level of ranking of charities in the US.


I honestly don't know much about them beyond hearing about them on the radio and browsing their site, so ymmv, but your post reminded me of it.

I'm enjoying the constitution series, but I feel like your diverging a bit. I would think that the constitution should be more like a set of requirements than a solution as above.

Are you using the solution to lead to some underlying principles that you'll incorporate into the constitution, or are you advocating a gov't or privately sponsored charity website as a part of your constitution? Or are you merely stating that your constitution would prevent the introduction of welfare as a means of providing social services?

The peer-pressure idea is a bit off to me, though. It has the potential to violate "The right for each person to live according to their own values" - hypothetically, you probably wouldn't like it if you found out that I donated to support abstinance programs, and yet we might get along swimmingly otherwise. I think that that kind of social pressure often creates more problems than it solves. But then again, I grew up in the eighties and watched re-runs of the Breakfast Club on the weekends.

Graham Glass

Hi Jef,

Regarding the separation of policy from mechanism, I presented the "charity portal" in order to show that charity could replace welfare as the main mechanism whereby people can help others. The constitution itself would simple place restrictions on the role of government. Before the end of the series I'll roll up all the bits and pieces and present them a clear and hopefully coherent whole.

Regarding your second point; I mentioned that people can opt to make some or all of their contributions private if they want to. My hope of course is that most contributions will be ones that people can be proud of, even if it annoys others. Perhaps knowing that some of your friends supported things you did not agree with would in fact lead to interesting dialog rather than a degradation of the friendship?


Jacek Kopecky

Graham, I'm also enjoying this series a lot, but I fear that with this chairty ideal you're missing some considerations.

In 1774, Maria Theresa of Austria introduced mandatory education around where I've lived. This means the parents can be punished for not giving their children education.

Consider a family of drunken and hating-each-other parents and a few kids - the parents would not request charity funds, unless they could spend it on drinks, and people would rather give the charity money to a family with more perspective. And without that mandatory education, the drunks could not be bothered to send their kids to school (even if charity supported), could they?

I'd say mandatory education has to be supported by some kind of law-and-public-money system, and the benefits of bringing some education to everybody outweigh the losses in public funding and quality because of some state monopoly.

Similar case could be made for public health.

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