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Continued: Readers Write: (Nov. 20): Gettysburg, Washington Avenue, Dayton's giving, crowdsourcing movies

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  • Last update: November 19, 2013 - 5:27 PM

DAYTON’S GIVING

Study discounts role of partisanship in charity

A recent Letter of the Day opined that Minnesota Gov. Mark Dayton’s skimpy charitable donations (as reported on his last year’s tax return) are typical of “liberals” who believe in taxes but not in charitable giving, whereas — per the letter writer — conservatives give more to charity but don’t believe as much in taxes.

I’d first like to point out that while Dayton’s giving was very small in 2012, and I believe also in 2011, in some other recent years he reported donating a relatively high portion of his gross income to charities — in some years more than 10 percent. I certainly can’t explain his low giving the past two years, but it doesn’t appear to be indicative of his entire personal history.

More important, the writer’s basic point isn’t true, at least not based on the available hard data. MIT researchers Michele Margolis and Michael Sances published a study in 2012 showing there was “no statistically significant relationship” between political beliefs or partisan political affiliation and the level of charitable giving. This held true both nationally and at the state level.

Perhaps someone else will do another study later that comes up with a different conclusion than did the MIT study. But for now, this is the best hard data available on the question.

JOHN EWAN, Falcon Heights

CROWDSOURCING MOVIES

Amazon wisely uses technology to limit risk

Regarding the Nov. 15 Alex Beam commentary “Creativity by committee,” it should not be a surprise that large companies such as Amazon that are making large investments attempt to reduce their risks as much as possible.

The use of crowdsourcing is the next generation of focus groups and polling services used in the past, which in turn replaced the decisionmaking process of movie moguls during the golden age of cinema.

A film like “Casablanca” could be made only at a time when low-cost films were cranked out at a frenetic pace by a despotic film company to a captive audience to fill an insatiable need for diversion.

Today, film demands state-of-the-art visual effects, top talent fetches seven-digit salaries, production is planned out years in advance, and audiences have a wide range of entertainment options. It is understandable why you would want to hedge your bets. And, who knows, Amazon may have found a way to capture lightning in a bottle.

BENJAMIN CHERRYHOMES, Hastings

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