A mixed bag for auto efficiency

When it comes to cars, “we really are the Bigger is Better nation,” says Joseph B. White in The Wall Street Journal. According to an EPA report released last week, the vehicles we drive are 29 percent heavier and much more powerful than they were in 1987. If you want to assign blame, “look in the mirror.” But then offer behavior-changing incentives, because “preaching alone” won’t make us buy lighter.

Making charity count

U.S. charitable donations are expected to top $200 billion this year, a record, says Robert Reich in the Los Angeles Times, and tax deductions on those gifts will cost us $40 billion. But “only an estimated 10 percent” are “directed at the poor.” The lion’s share is going to the “culture palaces” in which “the wealthy spend much of their leisure time,” or to universities they hope their children will attend. “We should revise the tax code” so that donations to the poor are fully tax deductible, but for other giving “the donor gets to deduct only half.”