One of the tax professors on our listserve, Ellen Aprill, shared information with us about a foundation established by Gene Steuerle, a senior fellow at the Urban Institute who lost his wife in the 9/11 attacks. The foundation was established with monies from the 9/11 victims fund. It is dedicated to furthering education, tolerance, and social justice throughout the world. See this description of the mission on the website for "Our Voices Together" and this story in the LA Times about the charity.
Now place that story in juxtaposition with this one. In this Dec. 26 Chicago Tribune story, Derrick Jackson notes a disheartening piece of data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics' latest report about consumer expenditure patterns. (You can access the 2003 report, here.) For the top quintile in terms of income, average annual expenditures on entertainment are about $4500. This compares with about $2000 spent on education and about $250 spent on reading. Those numbers suggest misguided priorities among the part of the population that can best afford to make a difference. Especially in a time of war, it is discouraging that "shop til you drop" and "go down to DisneyWorld" have become the expected mode of individual sacrifice. Just think how much better this world could be if every multimillionaire contributed just one-tenth of his or her assets to organizations such as Our Voices Together!