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  • The Left's Case Against Charitable Giving

    President Barack Obama’s FY 2010 budget proposal to cut the tax deductions that wealthy Americans can claim for their charitable donations has been roundly criticized, including by us here and by Harvard University economic professor Martin Feldstein here. But Obama does have his leftist defenders, including New York City Coalition Against Hunger executive director Joel Berg who writes:

    Combined with other progressive Obama tax proposals, that change would not only start to redress the inequality gap that has engulfed America in recent decades but would also help to pay for many effective domestic programs, including efforts that fight hunger and improve nutrition; boost public education; improve health care and make it more affordable; and create jobs for low- and middle-income families. In other words, the funding would greatly reduce struggling families’ need for charitable aid.

    Forget for a second that increased federal government funding for education and health care does not lead to better education or health care results, or that government spending does not create jobs. Instead, focus on Berg’s closing arguments:

    It is fashionable these days to say that “the community,” not government, should solve social problems. Yet no nonprofit leader, myself included, was elected by the community as a whole. Elected officials, whether we like them or not, are picked by voting citizens. In America, the government is the most legitimate voice of the entire community.

    Therein lies the fundamental difference between the left and conservatives. Conservatives believe in a vibrant civil society that allows individuals to flourish and where government plays a crucial but limited role. The left sees government as “the most legitimate voice” in the entire community and an entity that should be in charge of solving all problems. That is what this charitable donation fight is about.

    Posted in First Principles [slideshow_deploy]

    28 Responses to The Left's Case Against Charitable Giving

    1. Sam Kendall, Wiscons says:

      Question: What group has the highest rate of tax audits?

      Answer: Mormons because we tend to pay 10% tithing on gross income.

      We also tend to do a great deal of service by choice. After all, the mayor of New Orleans once said that the two groups that helped the most were the The Church of Jesus Christ and Latter Day Saints and the Mormons. Apparently nobody told him that those are two names for the same group. With all the talk about "seperation of church and state" it can be rather surprising that the government doesn't try to come down on religion more than it already does. I just hope it doesn't repeat the grievous actions taken by some in positions of power in the past, most notably in the 1830's.

    2. Erik Hanson, Fort Wo says:

      Sam, unfortunately, just because you tithe more than others (which goes mainly into programs designed primarily to help other Mormons) and because you do a lot of charitable work yourselves, doesn't mean the Mormon church isn't a cult. But that's another topic altogether.

      What I think is most disturbing is that this disincentive on charitable giving affects more than just religious giving, it affects ALL charitable giving, including health, education, and many many other fields. Liberals don't want "competition" for things they think "only" government should be doing. That's the bigger issue than just religion, and should offend religious and secular conservatives alike.

    3. MAS1916 - Denver, CO says:

      This is an obvious attack against organized religion. Church donations are in the cross-hairs of Obama's social reorganization team.


    4. Spiritof76, New Hamp says:

      The government wants total domination of individuals, especially the productive ones in the society. They want more dependents that would vote for them year-in-year out. It is all anti-American.

    5. Ozzy6900, CT says:

      What Mr. Berg fails to realize is that when The Community reaches out its hand, it is to assist an individual. When the Government reaches out its hand, it is to enslave the individual into believing that only the Government can help. I do not see the statement as an attack on Religion, but I am sure that Religion is defiantly going to be under attack by the Obama Administration.

      To address the Morman issues above, I could care less what Religion a person is when they extend their hand to help another person.

    6. Liberty, Portland says:

      You conservatives cannot oppose the cap on deductions on the basis that it will negaitvely impact charitable giving and also favor repealing the "death tax":

      cost of 28% cap on deductions for charity = 9 billion

      cost of repealing "death tax" for charity = 13-25 billion

      exposing conservative intellectual dishonesty = priceless.

    7. aj arizona says:

      Todays established religions were yesterdays cults. Nobody has been exempt. According to Goofs like you, Eric? Who cares what you label the Mormons. They are adding a million members every 3 years or so and completing a new building every day of every year.. Mormons are known by their fruits. What do you do to make the world a better place, Eric? Any twit from Ft. Worth has no influence on the growth of Mormonism. You still think Revelations is the last book written in the Bible. A Scholar you ain't. If your best argument is to call names, I suggest you obtain something more than a superficial approach to scholarship. After all, you condemn all to hell who never knew Jesus in this life. If that's your God, you can have him.


    8. Jeff says:

      Hey ignorant non Mormon. Please stop calling my heritage a cult. Jim Jones was a Protestant so if you have a Protestant heritage does that make you a cult? Mormons are not perfect. Neither are Secularists, Catholics, Protestants, Humanists, Muslims, Jews, or other groups, but I do not go around calling groups with long histories and thirteen million members a cult. For every fault you can find in Mormon history, I can find ten in any other group. Lay off.

    9. Claude Cornell says:

      Once the deductions on charitable giving are gradually eliminated that will leave vast areas that won't be funded. Then the government will just have to take over those areas as well.

      After all, it isn't about giving any way.

      It's about government control.

      Welcome to the first American Dictatorship.

    10. Charles-Odessa, Texa says:

      The big difference is I give because I want to and I am taxed so the government can decide where my money goes.

    11. John Clancy says:

      The idea that government is the most legitimate voice in a community turns the fundamental principle of subsidiarity on its head. "That government is best which governs the most" is topsy-turvydom! This approach destroys initiative, creativity, and responsiblility. It produces what Huxley calls a Brave New World. It runs against all that is good and meaningful in life. The results are frightening to behold. They produce what John Paul II called the culture of death.

    12. Deb, PA says:

      (Anti-)Liberty, what are you talking about? The 'Death Tax' is a tax, period… Repealing any tax allows the 'taxed' to keep more of the money they earn, and distribute it to whomever they choose… i.e., the government doesn't get to pick and choose what charity is 'worthy' (and in the case of this administration, this will favor left-leaning organizations who have Marxist, Secular, and/or anti-life agendas)

    13. mike baker Dallas Ce says:

      "In America,the government is the most legitimate voice of the entire country" That is creepy as Hell. The author of that sentence is a soul-less,statist vampire. With nothing inside, those liberals want to live life through you.

    14. Dennis, Idaho says:

      Maybe all 501c3 tax exempt status should be removed. Then the voice of the conservatives under the thumb of the IRS would be able to speak out. I give a tithe and more to my community and others around the world. But I no longer ask the government for a tax exemption. God keeps better records and gives better rewards.

    15. Dennis A. Social Cir says:

      Liberals think they hould controll all that happens in this country. Right now they are tring to controll all, and are doing a fair job. When will honest hrd working people stand up and stop this stupid stuff. ENOUGH IS ENOUGH.

    16. John Eyster says:

      Mr. Joel Berg forgets, or chooses to ignore, the fact that most if not all government officials are not chosen by most of the community, in most cases not by even a majority of the community.(Most people choose not to vote.)

      The community as a whole does however choose where they want their money to go through free will donations, not forced taxes.

    17. John in Virginia says:

      Mr Berg forgets, or chooses to ignore one important fact. (Most people similar to Mr. berg choose to ignore facts.) No government official is chosen by a majority of any community. In most communities, around 50 percent choose to vote and of those only around 50 percent vote for any one candidate. That means only 25 percent choose government officials.

      While people in communities as a whole do choose where they want their money to go through free will donations, not told what to support by the 25 percent government.

    18. john livingston Boi says:

      As a conservative I am very concerned about the intrusion of our federal government into the private giving practices that have long been a tradition in our country. That being said, the Obama administration has cause for concern regarding the activities and practicies of the 501(c)-3 tax exempt non profit hospitals in this country. The current administration should have 1st hand knowledge of these abuses as our current 1st lady held a board position and was legal council for such a hospital in Chicago.

      Many of these "non-profits" are making billions of dollars every year on the backs of the citizens and patients that support and use their services. Huge profit margins, supply chain kickbacks and rebates to their faciliites and and the physicians using them, and CEO salaries that would make Wall Street bankers ashamed, not to mention off the books incomes from these same people for consulting services to their own institutions paid via off shore transfers of money.

      I would much rather my govn. not be involved in the "reallication of charitable giving", however they should be very interested in the abuse of the "non-profit" status of many of these institutions.

    19. Ben C, Ann Arbor, MI says:

      Something about Marxism comes to mind they way the government is headed. The firing of Wagner and the demands made on GM looks like the first step to "nationalize" the car industry. Clealy limiting funding for charitable organizations opens the doorway for a "benevalent" government takeover Looks like we will soon change our name to USSA. Stalin would be proud.

    20. Ross, Florida says:

      With government involved in charity and welfare, there is no accountability from the recipient other than to vote for the party who instituted the program. What government sows is the destruction of individual dignity and the traditional family unit and now reaps a failed eductional systems, broken families, rampant immorality destroying human dignity, and out of control crime.

      Historically the poor were taken care of by churches who required the recipient to at least come to church for moral teachings which encouraged the nucleus family with two parents and being accountable for the actions of their household. Also, benevolant organization helped these poor and afflicted also. Again this was considered a "christian" act by the "haves" to "give back" to their communities.

      There also were county poorhouses at the local level that were normally ran by the county governments. The history of this institution is sad one for the sick, old and afflicted. But again many poorhouses encouraged religious participation by local churches in helping those who had nowhere else to go nor any hope.

      A lot of good people in the United States will give to charity no matter if there is or is not a tax deduction because in their thinking, it is the right thing to do…for many, the Christian thing to do. I agree.


    21. Matthew Knickrehm, B says:

      If Government is the most legitimate voice in the community then subsequently there will be widespread adoption of their practices by the community; not being honest about Senate bills(Chris Dodd), not paying taxes (Timothy Geithner), Senators promoting corporations such as Fannie Mae, who donate to their office, as being responsible when they are in fact not (Barney Franks). I could go on, but I think those interested enough to read this comment get the point.

    22. Cindy Beresh-Bryant says:

      The most disturbing trend I see is that if charitable donations are cut, then someone (namely the government) will be expected to pick up the slack to provide for those in need. This will be done through tax increases and will enslave all of us to the government. Such a move will only serve to further erode our way of life and create 2 classes of citizens – those in power and those at the mercy of those in power.

    23. Betty, Export, PA says:

      When the government takes from the productive sector, in the form of taxation, and "gives" the spoils to those they alone deem worthy, that cannot be said to be "charity" or a "gift" that is freely given. It is THEFT under color of law and the extraction is forever tainted.

      The extraction hardens the heart of the extortee and develops a sense of entitlement in the recipient. It denies the extortee the opportunity to grow personally by learning to put someone else's needs above their wants. It likewise denies the recipient the opportunity to develop a sense of accomplishment and self-worth.

      It is damaging to all parties and we must preserve the charitable deduction for all who itemize. I would extend it to those who do not itemize. That would be the fair and equitable thing to do.

    24. Neal Lang, Boca Rato says:

      "cost of 28% cap on deductions for charity = 9 billion

      "cost of repealing 'death tax' for charity = 13-25 billion

      "exposing conservative intellectual dishonesty = priceless."

      Like most leftist, you suffer under the mistaken delusion that everyone's earnings and property belongs to the government so that whatever amount government ALLOWS an individual to keep is somehow a cost to government.

      Exposing statist fantasies – priceless!

    25. Erik Hanson, Fort Wo says:

      Jeff and AJ, glad to see you both ignored the real issue, which was my second paragraph (luckily picked up by most of the other commenters) about government wanting to replace anything religion could — and should — do exclusively with the state. We can argue about Mormonism's cult status all day while Obama and his statist disciples slowly try to erode the relevance and even legality of religion or any other non-government health, welfare, and educational groups in our society.

    26. bob andres dallas te says:


    27. dave NJ says:

      I don’t think that the goverments tax policys could stop good hearted people from continueing to give.They just passed a bill that will pay people to volunteer for community service.Isn’t that a contradiction in and of itself.. the revolution has begun in the form of tea parties and (I hope all who responds to these comments are going to participate before it’s too late)we need to vote them all out in 2010.

    28. Dan Vermont says:

      I plan on telling the charities I gave to, to get their money from Obama. Many of the people running these charities, even though they may be a good cause, probably voted him in and he obviously knows were the money really needs to go.

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