Citigroup Chairman Sandy Weill told our Mary Thompson this weekthat people should start giving their money away even before they have a lot of it. Ok, that's a great idea, though it's a bit easy for him to say. Weill and his wife have generously donated $250 million to Weill Cornell Medical College, and he feels passionate about it. Now we have the scientific proof behind that passion. In the latest edition of Science there is an article called "The Gift of Giving," which explains, in scientific terms, why more Americans give to charity than Europeans, and why we're happier about it.
Turns out that in Europe, with higher taxes and more state-funded social services, rich Euro-types give less and are less cheerful givers--because they're being taxed to support the needy. While in America, where taxes are lower, people give more, and feel better about it because it's voluntary. SCIENTIFIC PROOF SUPPORTING LOWER TAXES!
How did scientists determine all this? They measured neural responses: "Subjects experienced a hedonic reaction when tax revenues were transferred to a charity, and subjects who showed greater neural activation under this regime were more generous when charitable contributions were made voluntary. The sense of well-being in the voluntary giving condition surpassed that seen when subjects were taxed." Somehow I don't think they wired up Sandy Weill for this. But you never know.
UNREAL REALTY CHECK
The real estate slump is even hitting Second Life, where there is no "real" real estate. Second Life is the virtual online world with more than seven million citizens. People "live" there and spend virtual cash which can be turned into real money. But! The site's Economic Statistics page shows land sales are slowing. So far, halfway through June, 31,666,096 square meters of "land" have been sold. Double that for a full month and you get around 6,332,192, off 16% from May's total of 75,827,392.
Land auctions are off even more: so far in June 4,010,400 square meters have been auctioned...double that for a full month and you get 8,020,800, down 65% from May's 22,988,144! Is Second Life a First Life indicator of slower consumer spending? No. Overall positive cash flow on the site continues to grow, it's only land sales showing some slowing. Even the average price per square meter is down some.
What does it mean? More importantly, why did I get out a calculator for this?