Letter: American charity

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The Independent Culture
American charity

Sir: Your excellent leader on different attitudes to charitable giving in Britain and the United States (5 December) focuses rightly on tax policies. However, having lived five years in Britain, I also believe there are more deep-seated reasons.

In Britain and in much of Europe, private charity is viewed by the chattering classes as pretentious at best and a devious scheme to silence the poor at worst. In the United States the opposite view prevails. Most of us believe that compassion and generosity with other people's money, when channelled through the state, is a necessary evil at best and a cowardly rationalisation of stinginess at worst.

Contrary to widespread opinion, the only significant similarity between the British and American people is the language.

ANDREW HIRSCH

Bainbridge Island, Washington, USA

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