Last week’s article “City Council report measures Tulsa’s quality of life”, reported that statistically Tulsa is the most generous mid-sized city in the country when it comes to giving to charity. This is obviously a commendable feat, but it is worth noting that while Tulsa’s citizens were quite generous, the city ranked rather poorly in measures of poverty.
An oft-repeated argument in conservative and libertarian circles is that lowering taxes would allow individuals to increase charitable giving, which would in turn fix socio-economic problems like poverty better than heavy handed government programs.
While it is only one data point, the Tulsa experience seems to suggest that generous citizens and well-funded charities can coexist with high levels of poverty. The simple fact that “America’s most generous city” has the fifth highest poverty rate of comparable cities should be enough to bring into question the effectiveness of charitable solutions to poverty in comparison to state-centered approaches.