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Oct. 31: Letters to the editor Add to ...

Paying it forward

Thanks for the comprehensive package of articles on philanthropy (The Do-Good Revolution – Cover, Oct. 29).

The most important idea was not, unfortunately, pursued further. Doug Saunders wrote “what brought people out of poverty was export-led economic growth and political stability.” (Save The World Inc. – Focus, Oct. 29).

Such was the case with the “Asian tigers.” Yet half a century after colonialism, even politically stable African countries are still living as colonies, supplying raw materials cheaply and buying finished products at inflated prices.

African countries need more trade; not with developed countries, but with their neighbours and even between regions within their own countries. Their road links were never sufficiently developed by the colonizers and remain in a deplorable condition.

How can the world best help Africa? Help improve its transportation infrastructure.

Burris Devanney, Halifax

One of the ways we could encourage more people to volunteer would be to give them a tax credit for hours donated. Rich people give money because they have it to spare. People of more modest means donate time. Why shouldn't they get the same benefit as the people who write cheques?

Jane McCall, Delta, B.C.

The comment by Alyson Queen, spokesperson for Minister of Human Resources Diane Finley, is ironic in the extreme (Charities Upset Over Accountability Comments – Oct. 29).

To “continue to look for new ways to achieve even greater results with taxpayers' hard-earned dollars” by making charities even more accountable is to ignore all the work done by charities on relatively small budgets. When governments can stretch a dollar as well as charities do, then we will have an efficiently run country.

Laura Groos, West Vancouver, B.C.

Much of the discussion regarding the new philanthropy sets up a dichotomy between the social value of charities (good) and charities' administrative costs (bad).

The so-called “new era of accountability” suggests Canadian charities that want to survive must add program monitoring and evaluation to their core competencies, thus taking dollars out of programs and adding administrative costs.

If our collective goal is to ensure organizations deliver on promised social gains, we will have to get realistic about the cost of accountability.

Stephen Woeller, Guelph, Ont.

I would like to see more everyday volunteers recognized and profiled. They coach our kids' soccer teams, deliver meals on wheels and serve countless hours as Cub Scout leaders.

These roles are not as sexy as a $100-million gift to a school or a celebrity travelling to the Third World on a one week PR expedition, but these volunteers are the foot soldiers of philanthropy.

Charles Thornton, Mississauga, Ont.

Nice try. Just as protests are spreading against the obscene increases in inequality within nations around the world, you give us a special project on the warm and fuzzy philanthropy of the 1 per cent.

While it is preferable for the rich to give money to good causes than to keep it all to themselves, it hardly represents an adequate response to the systematic concentration of wealth and polarization of opportunity in contemporary capitalism.

Indeed, the “new philanthropy” seems like an attempt to put a gloss of legitimacy on extreme wealth concentration, and to shift attention away from the real debate over how to construct an equitable economy that delivers a high quality of life for all in an ecologically sustainable way.

Anders Hayden, Halifax

Where obligations lie

Your approbation of Rick Mercer for his claim of a moral obligation on gay people in public life to be visible is misplaced (Rick Mercer And The Burden Of Openness – Editorial, Oct. 28).

To say that protecting gay teens is everyone's business is little more than a platitude.

In the real world social change comes about not through lecturing or enforcement of prohibitions, but through modelling by the bravest and most moral. Social change without the Christs and Buddhas, the Mahatma Gandhis and Martin Luther Kings, is inconceivable.

It is burden enough that the Rick Mercers among us have to set themselves up as targets for the bigots of society; it is worse they have to defend themselves from the merely well-intentioned.

Dave Haynes, Nelson, B.C.

The subjects speak

Regarding the proposed changes to the rules of succession (A Non-Sexist Throne – Editorial, Oct. 29), wouldn't it be wonderful if any Canadian could aspire to be our head of state?

Friedrich Ó. Muircheartaigh, Ottawa

Hanoverian King George II is generally credited as being the last British monarch to lead British troops in the field. This came at the head of the Pragmatic Army, a polyglot force of British, Hanoverian and Austrian troops that faced the French at the battle of Dettingen in June 1743.

William III was certainly more active as a field commander than George II, however the latter's presence was significant; it inspired Handel to write Dettingen Te Deum to mark the victory.

Major John R. Grodzinski, Assistant Professor, Royal Military College, Kingston, Ont.

So the Globe and Mail welcomes the royal succession reform that will allow Will and Kate's firstborn to ascend to the throne, even if that child is female.

That this change is happening in 2011 demonstrates that the monarchy is centuries behind the rest of the world in joining the age of enlightenment and should be discarded, root and branch, no matter its meagre reforms.

Chris Sasaki, Toronto

Dam right

We were shocked and appalled to hear of Senator Nicole Eaton's call for Canada to forsake the beaver in favour of the polar bear as the country's official symbol (Beavers Can't Cut It As Symbols Of Canada, Senator Says – Oct. 28).

The beaver has been the leading ambassador for our company since 1973. Our buck-tooth friends up in Algonquin Park, now preparing for the long winter, are deeply offended by Ms. Eaton's unconscionable demand to retire this industrious furry animal.

Michael Budman and Don Green, Co-Founders, Roots Canada, Toronto

Spook me

I suspect that many people do not yearn for the Halloweens of yesteryear (Soap My Windows – Letters, Oct. 29). When I was a boy in 1950s rural southwestern Ontario, I actively dreaded it.

Bad things happened: scores were settled, barns burned, vulnerable people terrorized. Not the stuff of nostalgia.

Frederick Sweet, Toronto

On Halloween 2011, the world population will reach 7 billion.

With this rapid expansion of the world population comes many man-made problems.

Many of my friends ask me how to dress their kids for Halloween to make them look the scariest. Is it the Werewolf, King Kong, Frankenstein or the Vampire? My best advice to them is to simply dress like Homo sapiens.

Stanley Tam, Toronto

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