Saturday, July 30, 2011

Uncle Sam Becomes a Charity Case

Nonprofit Quarterly ran a recent article called "Weird Philanthropy: Donors Give to the National Debt"The magazine expressed its befuddlement at the spate of donations to the federal government to help reduce the national debt. The amounts are not substantial, averaging $20-30 for the most part with the "occasional six-figure contribution. The notoriously left-leaning Quarterly wondered in its article what sort of "metrics" these donors were using to judge the effectiveness of these donations and argued that the money would just "go into the general fund" anyway.

It's fascinating how liberals say they like bigger government so long as they're hauling down nice fat grants from the fed. When their own donors start giving to Uncle Sam, though, the complaining begins, because even they realize that public philanthropies don't waste money like the government. They're likely thinking, that all that money will just get flushed down the bureaucratic crapper, when it could go to a nonprofit organization where it would actually do some good.

Recently, conservative talk show hosts, pundits and politicians have challenged pro-tax liberals saying, "If you believe the government is the best manager of welfare programs and you believe you are not being taxed enough, you can always give the amount you believe you are being under-taxed directly to the government."

Apparently, some folks are taking them up on the challenge and putting, at least a bit of their money where their mouth is. It would be bad news for nonprofits in general if the trend were to spread, but the lion's share of giving to charity seems to be coming from faith-based and conservative givers. Most of these folks, many of whom give ten percent or more of their income to charities and churches, have a less rosey view of the federal government as an efficient and effective purveyor of charitable programs and funding.

The average ten percent giver is unlikely to jump on the bandwagon on this one. The gifts to Uncle Sam up to this point appear more symbolic than substantial and given the small amounts, these folk apparently don't think they are underpaying their taxes by very much.

So, next time a pro-tax liberal tells you he is under-taxed and that he does give extra to the federal government, ask him, "How much?"

Tom King

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