>     No, the logic is not the same at all. In the charity case the logic 
> is that your contribution is too small to change the relative marginal 
> suffering level among charities 
> Alex

But that is not why one contributes to charity.  The reason is "sympathy"
in the Smithian sense (Theory of Moral Sentiments).  One identifies and
sympathizes with some cause.  The cause has needs year after year.  The
donor feels satisfaction from contributing to the cause.  It is basically
like other consumption.  If one sympathizes with two causes, then one gives
to both.  Say, once one has given $500 to cause A, the marginal
satisfaction is greater when the next dollar goes to cause B.  That is also
why one contributes continously rather than all at once.  The marginal
utility I derive from one more dollar is less today after having
contributed $1000 than if I wait a year and donate another dollar.

Fred Foldvary


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