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Generosity

January 02, 1989

I was very pleased to see Bruce Sievers' column on Christmas Day, "Towards a More Generous Nation" (Opinion). Facts about the breadth and scope of the nonprofit or "third" sector gives refreshing insight into the American soul. That 90% of all giving is done by individuals (as opposed to foundations or corporations) and that 45% of adults are volunteers offsets the cynical view that the American refrain is "I, my, me, mine."

Of course, most of us never think about the third sector's role in our lives--not even when we call the Salvation Army to carry away the old fridge, buy cookies from the Girl Scouts, recycle The Times, write a check for AIDS research and go to the ballet all in the same day.

Yet a vast array of not-for-profit enterprises provide us with services, advocacy, medicine, art, and science. They are a bridge to education, culture, preservation of freedom, and above all, to hope.

Thus, I agree with Sievers that government should reverse its discouraging policy of restricting tax deductions on charitable gifts while skimping on its own responsibility to deliver vital human services. Government should join in partnership with the millions of regular, everyday citizens who give to the sector that mirrors best our American soul.

P.S. I am the executive director of People for the American Way.

JO ELLEN PASMAN

Los Angeles

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