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The Authoritarian Impulse in Charity
Posted by: Jon Henke on Tuesday, January 22, 2008

The New York Times Editorial Board...
Philanthropic contributions in the United States — about $300 billion in 2006 — probably exceed those of any other country.

By contrast, America’s tax take is nearly the lowest in the industrial world.
Let me save you the trouble. They don't appear to see a connection between lower tax rates and higher private giving. Instead, the New York Times editorial argues that the government should assert State control over philanthropy, even if that means reducing the level of charitable giving.
Philanthropic contributions are usually tax-free. They directly reduce the government’s ability to engage in public spending. Perhaps the government should demand a role in charities’ allocation of resources in exchange for the tax deduction. Or maybe the deduction should go altogether. Experts estimate that tax breaks motivate 25 percent to 30 percent of contributions.
Is there no property, no private matter, that the Left does not think it can "improve" by asserting State control? If such a thing remains, just give them time.

Experience should teach us to be most on our guard to protect liberty when the government's purposes are beneficent. Men born to freedom are naturally alert to repel invasion of their liberty by evil-minded rulers. The greatest dangers to liberty lurk in insidious encroachment by men of zeal, well-meaning but without understanding.
- Justice Louis Brandeis

 
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I AM be somewhat facetious here, but... This is news about the liberal mindset?

I guess its good to occasionally remind ourselves that liberals are ’dictators’ who want to seize control through establishing dependancy and using our charitable impulses to let it happen.

If you haven’t noticed, the overall ’narrative’ or ’directive’ is to downplay self-reliance. You can see this by the way rewards for individual achievement have been removed from schools, victims treated as heroes and heroes called victims. If anything, this up and coming generation has been trained to have its hand out without guilt or sense of failure.
 
Written By: jpm100
URL: http://
Well, think of it, in trade for giving up most of your income, you are "free" to make any choice you want with your life, and not have to bear the responsibility of your choice, since the government will lend you a hand when you need it.
 
Written By: Keith_Indy
URL: http://asecondhandconjecture.com
It would do the country a world of good if the NYT burned to the ground.
 
Written By: Grimshaw
URL: http://
Apparently, they didn’t learn anything from Reagan, despite their denials. If they did they’d have noted charity giving going up in massive amounts under Reagan. Might that be due to lower taxation, by way of ’supply side"?

If so, the liberals will never admit it. Nor, alas will a lot of others.

The basics apply here...the government taking my money and spending it on someone else... even someone who arguably needs it, does not constitute ’Charity’.

Then again, the left isn’t about charity, and actually helping people. They’re about government power. If there’s anything that exposes this clearly, it’s this business.





 
Written By: Bithead
URL: http://bitsblog.florack.us
This is news about the liberal mindset?
It shouldn’t be. I’ve certainly heard it all before, but somehow I still find the editorial stunning just for its brazenness. And smugness. And flat-out ignorance. Look at the title: "Charity Begins in Washington." That’s said sincerely, from the heart. Unbelievable.

Their childlike faith in government — any government — is so profound that there’s no need to delve into what it does or can do exactly. Following just on Jon’s first excerpt:
Federal, state and local tax collections amount to just more than 25.5 percent of the nation’s economic output. The Finnish government collects 48.8 percent... The Finnish government probably has money to build children’s health clinics. [Emphasis mine.]
They’re so blithely approving of a tax burden doubledouble! — what we have now because, elsewhere, children’s clinics are "probably" financed that way.

Why concern oneself with facts and figures about the impact of higher — much higher — tax rates when you can simply suppose that they "probably" enable government to do something you’d approve? For the purposes of the NYT editors, the actual effectiveness of drastically increased taxation is of no more concern than its morality. Probable outcomes are good enough.

And bizarrely, that reference to children’s health clinics — the only supposedly languishing "social need" or "public investment" actually mentioned in the editorial — follows on the acknowledgement that last year’s donors to charity "targeted ... children’s health clinics." The editors specifically dismiss the voluntary, private funding of clinics as inferior to public financing, through whatever crushing level of taxation government deems necessary.

Because ... um ... that’s where charity begins. "Probably."

I agree with Grimshaw.
 
Written By: Linda Morgan
URL: http://
They directly reduce the government’s ability to engage in public spending.
That’s not a bug, it’s a feature.
 
Written By: Achillea
URL: http://
Yes, but if private people do it, they can determine the attached strings (if any) on how it should be used.

If the government does it, well, we can ’vote’ on how it will be used!
That way we get proper charity that can be controlled, not your wasted useless, non-experimental charity that the NYT may not have any say in!
 
Written By: looker
URL: http://
Tax deductions for charitable giving are an example of using the tax code to achieve politically ’desirable’ ends and something we ought to be objecting to - not because we don’t like charities, but because we object to government doling out benefits on the basis of how we spend the money we make (or, conversely, suffering a penalty, as in the case of giving our money away).

We earn our money and we ought to be able to spend it as we see fit without society pronouncing it right or wrong through the awarding (or withholding) of rewards for spending our money the ’right’ way.

Our taking these deductions leaves us morally unfit to object to other tweaks of the tax code that are designed to encourage this or that activity. Twisting the old joke, we’ve established that we’re whores, we’re just arguing over how much of the pie we get.
 
Written By: Steve Sturm
URL: http://
Instead, the New York Times editorial argues that the government should assert State control over philanthropy, even if that means reducing the level of charitable giving
This is overkill, as the individual philanthropist should be left alone but the absolute fact is that private foundations/charities (aks NGOs) need some measure of regulatory oversight- as least in regards to disclosure and reporting, transparency, "administration and overhead" spending, and distribution of funds (to make sure Al Qeada or other such groups don’t get money sent to them). The standards they have now are pitful. Look at the annual 990 return for any of the major charities, and some of the recipients will disgust you - domestic terror organizations such as PETA, troublemakers such as the Ruckus society, and a variety of left (and right) wing advocacy causes that have zero to do with real philanthropy

 
Written By: shark
URL: http://
Jon Henke wrote:
Is there no property, no private matter, that the Left does not think it can "improve" by asserting State control? If such a thing remains, just give them time.

I share your distaste for this type of policy, but don’t agree that its confined to the Left.

Is there any real difference - in regards to "asserting State control" - between attempting to divert philanthropic gifts to add to tax revenues for targeted social spending vs. simply spending tax dollars to fund social programs by faith-based organizations (i.e., targeted social spending)?

For example, like what the Bush Admin did with the White House Office of Faith-Based and Community Initiatives?
 
Written By: Jib Halyard
URL: http://
I share your distaste for this type of policy, but don’t agree that its confined to the Left.
I never suggested that it was. Nor would I.
For example, like what the Bush Admin did with the White House Office of Faith-Based and Community Initiatives?
The "faith-based" government spending wasn’t something unique to the Bush administration. John Kerry supported it in 2004, and every major 2008 Democratic Presidential candidate supports faith-based initiatives.
 
Written By: Jon Henke
URL: http://www.QandO.net
The Authoritarian Impulse in Charity
This headline says it all. The premise of the post is that government taxing and spending by a democratically elected government is inherently anti-democratic.

It’s Orwellian really. To Mr. Henke, democratically elected governments that spend money that the democratically elected governments have decided to tax and spend are no different from anti-democratic governments that do the same. Democracy is authoritarianism. Freedom is slavery. And all that. It’s the old bar-stool ranting about how local, state, and federal governments in the United States are really no different from the communists.

The premise expresses a cynicism about and contempt for the role of government generally, and its spending for the public good.

Of course, the very politicians for whom Mr. Henke shills have so incompetently run the government that there is a certain perverse factual basis for the premise. But that’s only because those for whom he shills value ideological purity over practical competence, see, e.g., FEMA, the DOJ, etc.

But what’s worse, is that the premise holds that when it comes to transfers of wealth within our society, it is best that the general public - through our democratically elected representatives - should have no say in how the wealth is allocated, and that we should simply trust the participants in the transfer to make those decisions. It’s essentially the same argument that is made in opposition to the Estate Tax.

One can debate the merits of either side of the argument. But characterizing the side of the argument that seeks to increase the level of public participation through the institutions of democratically elected governments as "authoritarian" is propagandistic and absurd on its face. Stated another way, if not involvng the government in transfers of wealth is superior, than in the marketplace of ideas that is our political system that position should prevail. If it doesn’t, so be it. But that’s not "authoritariansim."

Mr. Henke is similar to those who claim that there is religious oppression in the United States. He should live in a country where it really exists. Chances are he wouldn’t throw around the term so loosely and ridiculously.

And here I thought the black helicopter crowd had up and vanished. Silly me.




 
Written By: mkultra
URL: http://
The word "impulse" clearly didn’t register to you, mkultra.
 
Written By: Ayn_Randian
URL: http://
I never suggested that it was. Nor would I.
Well, the strength of the statement I quoted seemed to insinuate it - and judging by the comments from your audience here, it seemed like I wasn’t the only one.

If you were merely trying to point out how yet another example of a group trying to expand the government in silly and useless ways, and maybe demonstrating the Democrats particular flavor of that, then I humbly concede the point. :)
The "faith-based" government spending wasn’t something unique to the [Right]...
Likewise, I never suggested it was. I merely wanted to cite an example of my now moot point.

Cheers, Jon.
 
Written By: Jib Halyard
URL: http://
This headline says it all. The premise of the post is that government taxing and spending by a democratically elected government is inherently anti-democratic.
I said nothing about "democracy". Nor do I accept the plainly foolish notion that anything democratically elected governments do is de facto acceptable. You don’t accept that notion, either, so try to stop parading your foolishness quite so publicly.
Well, the strength of the statement I quoted seemed to insinuate it - and judging by the comments from your audience here, it seemed like I wasn’t the only one.
As demonstrated by a previous commenter, the audience is at least partially composed of idiots. They are a poor gauge of what I think. But a good example of the components of "democracy!"
 
Written By: Jon Henke
URL: http://www.QandO.net
Let me just add how disturbingly funny it is, after 7 years of the Left complaining about the authoritarian actions of the Bush administration, to see a Lefty arguing that it’s "orwellian" to suggest that the actions of democratically elected governments can be authoritarian.
 
Written By: Jon Henke
URL: http://www.QandO.net
In any event, social needs, like those health clinics, are not about charity. They are a necessity. America needs a government that can and will pay for them.
The irony is that government doesn’t do much for social needs either. Government spending, like philanthropic spending, tends to favor education and other middle-class interests.
 
Written By: Bill Ramey
URL: http://saturninretrograde.blogspot.com

 
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