Excerpt:Â The New York Times is distressed that private philanthropists can give money to any charity they choose. Only a socialistic Federal government is capable, says the Times, of making wise decisions about dispensing money to achieve social justice. The flip side of American private largess is the stinginess of the public sector. Philanthropic contributions in the United States â€” about $300 billion in 2006 â€” probably exceed those of any other country. By contrast, Americaâ€™s tax take is nearly the lowest in the industrial world. Federal, state and local tax collections amount to just more than 25.5 percent of the nationâ€™s economic output. The Finnish government collects 48.8 percent. As a result, the United States spends less on social programs than virtually every other rich industrial country, according to the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development. The Finnish government probably has money to build childrenâ€™s health clinics. Critics of government spending argue that Americaâ€™s private sector does a better job making socially necessary investments. But it doesnâ€™t. Public spending is allocated democratically among competing demands. Rich benefactors can spend on anything they want, and they tend to spend on projects close to their hearts.