Is Your Money Yours? Or The Government's?

Tax-deductible charitable contributions rob from the government?

We at Scragged have decided that liberals really don't have any overriding principles except one - they know better than you, and want government to get bigger and bigger in order to help them enforce What's Best for You whether you like it or not.  It doesn't matter whether any government program actually achieves any sensible objective; so long as government spends more money and takes more control over individual citizen's lives (under the benevolent authority of liberal politicians and bureaucrats, of course), it's all good even if the laws and programs don't objectively work in any reasonable sense.

Consider the recent bans on cell phoning while driving.  Actual studies show that these bans don't do much for safety.

A practical person might think we could just as well get rid of a law that didn't work, but in the political world, perish the thought!  Liberals love anything that gives government more power, more rules to enforce, and more people to enforce all these laws, totally regardless of any underlying success or lack thereof.

Politicians won't generally admit that they never saw a government program they didn't like, but once in a while, something appears in the public discussion arena that makes it clear what's on the liberal mind.

Charities "Stealing" Tax Dollars?

The New York Times published a link to their story "Grab Bag of Charities Grows, Along With U.S. Tax Breaks" in their daily electronic edition.  They're always eager to entice readers to click the link and read the story, so they try to write the blurbs that accompany the links so as to make them as attractive to their readers as possible.  The grabber for this story was:

The number of public charities has soared, resulting in more than $50 billion a year in lost tax revenue. [emphasis added]

When an organization registers as a public charity with the IRS, any money donated becomes tax-deductible.  The Times is upset because so many people are giving so much money to so many registered charities that the government collected $50 billion less than it would have collected if taxpayers hadn't made those donations and paid income taxes on the money instead.  The Times sees this $50 billion not as a sign of American generosity to the needy but as "lost revenue" to the government!

As limited-government conservatives, much as we're tempted to see children as another glorious tax deduction, we see increased charity as taxpayers being able to keep more of their money away from the insatiable government maw.  Instead, this money funds programs which the donors believe will benefit society.

We think that people are far more careful to watch what a charity actually does with their money than a bureaucrat watches whether tax funds are spent wisely.

The story states:

The number of organizations that can offer their donors a tax break in the name of charity has grown more than 60 percent in the United States, to 1.1 million, in just a decade.

The Times points out that the legal definition of "charity" is so elastic that it's hard for the IRS to turn down an application.  In order to justify their outrage that so many people avoid taxes by supporting charities, they listed some charities which they believed were unworthy:

Take the Woohoo Sistahs, a social club that won approval last year. Its 50 or so members meet regularly over drinks and dinner in the Hampton Roads area of Virginia and raise money for cancer research and other causes through walkathons and sales held in retailers' parking lots.

Mere citizens investing in cancer research!  How shocking!  It would be so much better if our all-knowing Federal Government took the money and spent it as our ruling elites felt best, right?

How dare these serfs trifle with the goals of their betters?  Don't they know that government-salaried scientists are already hard at work finding a cure for cancer, and have been ever since the Nixon administration?

That, at any rate, seems to be the take of the Times.  From the point of view of sane people, what's wrong with these ladies registering as a charity to make it easier for them to raise money for cancer research?

The Times' complaint is clearly that they don't believe mere citizens able to judge which cancer researchers are worthy of support - that's a job that should be left to the exalted beings at our government-funded research centers.  After all, our elected officials have such a vastly superior track record of spending money wisely than common hayseeds!

It's no surprise that the Times found a member of Congress who shares their concern:

The $300 billion donated to charities last year cost the federal government more than $50 billion in lost tax revenue.

"Especially during these tough economic times, it's troubling to hear we are increasing the number of these organizations at such a rapid pace," said Representative Xavier Becerra, a California Democrat who is one of the few members of Congress to pay attention to the nonprofit sector.

"It's not free," Mr. Becerra said, "and so we need to do something to make sure taxpayers are getting a big enough benefit in return."  [emphasis added]

Let's walk through the Times' logic here.  Taxpayers thought highly enough of various charities to donate $300 billion which had the side effect of reducing their taxes by $50 billion.  Both the Times and Rep. Becerra appear to be worried that the government isn't doing enough to make sure that the taxpayers are getting $50 billion worth of benefit from the $300 billion the charities spent.

Do they seriously think that government could benefit society more by spending $50 billion than charities benefit society by spending $300 billion?

Why aren't either of these liberal luminaries concerned whether taxpayers get their money's worth on the money government spends?  What about the $100 hammers which the government now conceals from us by changing their accounting gimmickry?  What about the TSA which can't keep people from going backwards through security check points?

Neither the Times nor Rep. Becerra seems to consider the possibility that the state of California just might have hurt its citizens by not being careful enough that they get their money's worth from state taxes paid to California.  In what possible way is it any of the government's business what people do with their own money and whether the "value received" for it meets the ideal of some overpaid bureaucrat?

We can understand why liberals wouldn't want taxpayers to start wondering if they were getting value for the taxes they pay.  Shutting down all the worthless government programs would eliminate the deficit in a heartbeat, but a great many formerly-unionized former government employees would then have less incentive to vote for tax increases.

It's nice, however, when liberals declare their basic conviction: all money belongs to the government and anything they, in their all-wise benevolence, deign to let you keep is undeserved charity.  We can now quote the Times and say, "We told you so!"

Will Offensicht is a staff writer for and an internationally published author by a different name.  Read other articles by Will Offensicht or other articles on Politics.
Reader Comments
Like the limited-government conservative, as we are tempted to see the children as other precious tax cuts, we see love as an increase because taxpayers can keep more of their money from the government's insatiable maw. Instead, funds programs that believe this money will benefit the donor community. We think that people are much more careful to watch what the charity with their money than a bureaucrat watches whether tax money is spent wisely. So the tax paid by the taxpayer should always be supervised so as not misused. Why liberals do not want taxpayers to begin to wonder if they get the value they pay taxes. Closing all government programs to eliminate worthless overnight deficit, for the tax proceeds are used for appropriate programs.
March 6, 2010 10:26 AM
Bunning was right: we DO have to worry about paying for even important and necessary new laws."
March 8, 2010 10:49 PM
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