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What is Charity?

By JLP | February 28, 2011

I’ve been listening to the audiobook of Who Really Cares: The Surprising Truth About Compassionate Conservatism* by Arthur Brooks. The book came out several years ago but I’m just now taking the time to listen/read it. The purpose of the book was to look at charity (who gives and doesn’t give) in America based entirely on data.

Like many people in America, Brooks originally suspected that liberals were the givers and conservatives were non-givers.

When I started doing research on charity, I expected to find that political liberals—who, I believed, genuinely cared more about others than conservatives did—would turn out to be the most privately charitable people. So when my early findings led to the opposite conclusion, I assumed I had made some sort of technical error. I re-ran analyses. I got new data. Nothing worked. In the end, I had no option but to change my views.

I confess the prejudices of my past here to emphasize that the findings in this book—many of which may appear conservative and support a religious, hardworking, family-oriented lifestyle—are faithful to the best available evidence, and contrary to my political and cultural roots. Indeed, the irresistible pull of empirical evidence in this book is what changed the way I see the world. It has also guided me in my persoanl search for the truth—not only as a teacher and researcher but also in my private life as a donor and volunteer, as a father, as a skeptical political independent, and even as a Christian.

I quoted the above to build up to this point I found in the book:

The conventional wisdom runs like this: Liberals are charitable because they advocate government redistirbution of money in the name of social justice; conservatives are uncharitable because they opppose these policies. But note the sleight of hand: Government spending, according to this logic, is a form of charity.

Let us be clear: Government spending is not charity. It is not a voluntary sacrifice by individuals. No matter how beneficial or humane it might be, no matter how necessary it is for providing public services, it is still the obligatory redistirbution of tax revenues. Because government spending is not charity, sanctimonious yard signs do not prove that the bearers are charitable or that their opponents are selfish. (On the contrary, a public attack on the integrity of those who don’t share my beliefs might more legitimately constitute evidence that I am the uncharitable one.)

I agree 100% with the above statement. Government spending IS NOT CHARITY! This point hit home to me personally a couple of weeks ago when one of my friends posted something on facebook about the Texas budget and supposed cuts to education. I got into a discussion with one of my friend’s facebook friends who happened to be an administrator at one of the Texas school districts. He mentioned that all our problems would be solved if we just raised property taxes, which would mean a $150 in additional taxes per year on a $150,000 house. When I stated that I was against any rise in taxes, this guy resorted to calling me a Scrooge. In other words, he made the assumption that because I was against tax increases that I was stingy or uncharitable. He had no idea how much my wife and I give to charity or the amounts we donate for teachers’ gifts and the like.

That guy would do well to read this book.

*Affiliate Link

Topics: Books, Giving | 56 Comments »


56 Responses to “What is Charity?”

  1. RA Says:
    February 28th, 2011 at 1:12 pm

    Who ever said that government was charity? And what does this have to do with anything other than to pump up your own self-righteousness?

  2. Ron Says:
    February 28th, 2011 at 1:14 pm

    You might be “charitable” and send him a copy of that book!

    Looking forward to the wailing, moaning, and gnashing of teeth this blog post will bring in …

    The fact is, people that have the means to give usually do. Those that have it taken from them under threat of imprisonment or garnishment resent it.

  3. JLP Says:
    February 28th, 2011 at 1:21 pm

    RA,

    It’s obvious that liberals rag on conservatives as not being generous when conservatives do not support higher taxes to pay for government-sponsored welfare programs. Listen to politicians whenever budget cuts are discussed.

    Self-righteousness? Please. Cleary this post touched a nerve with you. I wonder why?

  4. RA Says:
    February 28th, 2011 at 1:31 pm

    Probably because I get tired of your self-righteousness. Ha, ha.

    Looks like conservatives give more to charity because they are more church going. Factor out church donations and liberals contribute more. I’ve never though of tithing as charity because it mostly goes back into the church but I guess it qualifies.

    I’ve always found conservatives to be very generous. Especially to the defense industry and with corporate socialism. I just wish they wouldn’t cut themselves a tax break on top of it and run up the debt with economic creationism.

  5. BG Says:
    February 28th, 2011 at 2:23 pm

    If government spending is not charity, then “charitable” contributions from people who then take tax-deductions for those charitable contributions is not charity either.

    Can’t have one without the other…

  6. JLP Says:
    February 28th, 2011 at 2:33 pm

    BG,

    What? I still have to give in order to get any sort of deduction. Why is that not charity? It is definitely NOT charity when the government takes money from individuals and then turns around and gives to it someone else. That’s called redistribution.

  7. JLP Says:
    February 28th, 2011 at 2:35 pm

    RA,

    Obviously you don’t know conservatives other than what you read about from Huffington Post or Daily Koz…

  8. BG Says:
    February 28th, 2011 at 2:37 pm

    JLP) You can’t claim that government spending is not charity, while at the same time getting a tax-deduction for _your_ “charitable” contributions.

    The government giving _you_ a tax deduction, is charitable government spending by exactly that amount of taxes that the government should have gotten from you.

    My logic is flawless.

  9. RA Says:
    February 28th, 2011 at 2:40 pm

    I don’t read either one of those. I’m from Texas. I know lots about conservatives, especially the religious kind.

  10. JLP Says:
    February 28th, 2011 at 2:45 pm

    From pages 42-43 of “Who Really Cares?” referenced in the article:

    “Religious people are far more charitable than secularists; and religious people are disporoportionately politically conservative. Conversely, relatively uncharitable secularists are especially likely to be politically liberal. One of the best explanations for the right-left charity gap is the link between faith and politics.”

  11. RA Says:
    February 28th, 2011 at 2:49 pm

    That’s pretty obvious. Is it strange that we are getting a rundown on how great religious conservatives are from a religious conservative book? Somehow I do not find it surprising. More patting on the back of thyself.

  12. JLP Says:
    February 28th, 2011 at 2:51 pm

    He is not a conservative!

  13. RA Says:
    February 28th, 2011 at 2:57 pm

    I know. He’s an independent like Bill O’Reilly. He’s the president of the American Enterprise Institute.

  14. BG Says:
    February 28th, 2011 at 3:09 pm

    “I know. He’s an independent like Bill O’Reilly.”

    Thanks, I just spit coffee all over laptop — lol

  15. BG Says:
    February 28th, 2011 at 3:21 pm

    “…and relistious people are disporoportionately politically conservative….”

    Would Jesus today, be labeled a conservative, or a liberal? Answer honestly.

  16. JLP Says:
    February 28th, 2011 at 3:36 pm

    Interesting question, BG…

    Well, I sure couldn’t see Jesus supporting liberal policies like abortion. I also couldn’t see Jesus supporting policies that take from those who work to give to those who could be doing for themselves.

    The conversation is silly because if Jesus were here as ruler, economic decisions as we know them now, would no longer apply. There would be no scaricity.

  17. RA Says:
    February 28th, 2011 at 3:50 pm

    Hey, we managed to get abortion on a financial blog!!!

  18. BG Says:
    February 28th, 2011 at 3:51 pm

    JLP) Good points — both parties have gaping flaws, and trying to put Jesus in one or the other buckets is ridiculous.

    Anyhow, back to government spending and whether it (or some of it) is charity or not.

    The way I look at it, since the government allows charitable deductions on the taxes, mathematically the government is giving a “matching” contribution to the charity of your choosing.

    If you give $100 (pre-tax) to a charity, then what is really happening is that you are giving $75, and the government is giving a $25 match (if you are in the 25% bracket).

    The charity gets $100, you have $75 less take-home pay, and the government is short $25 in tax revenue.

    Therefore: in this example, the government is not only ‘spending’ for charity, but is also giving a MATCHING CONTRIBUTION, and to the charity of YOUR CHOOSING. That $25 match contribution was taken from someone else, so you are (in effect) redistributing the income of the government to your charity — the exact same thing you claim is bad/liberal.

  19. Phil Says:
    February 28th, 2011 at 4:00 pm

    JLP, if your friend so strongly believes that giving $150 more in property taxes will help the educational system, what’s stopping him from doing this on his own? Does he need “non-Scrooginess” to be legislated?

    Kidding aside, I had come across an article that suggested that giving to charity created wealth – and not the other way around. Since conservatives are typically more capitalistic, maybe that’s why they give more to charity. Here’s the link to the article, if anyone is interested:

    http://www.portfolio.com/views/columns/2007/10/15/Charity-Makes-Wealth/index.html

  20. JLP Says:
    February 28th, 2011 at 4:00 pm

    BG wrote:

    “That $25 match contribution was taken from someone else…”

    How so? Less revenue to the government does not mean the money was taken from someone else.

    Regardless of the deduction for charitable contributions, the act of giving is voluntary and is therefore charitable.

    This differs from the government confiscating and redistributing in order to buy votes, which we all know is what they are doing. Why do you think our welfare programs and entitlements have grown to their current size?

  21. BG Says:
    February 28th, 2011 at 4:07 pm

    “How so? Less revenue to the government does not mean the money was taken from someone else.”

    It means that the government increases borrowing, which means the money is taken from our kids, and grandchildren. They will be paying for it (with interest).

    You are controlling government spending by the charitable tax deduction — you are redistributing my kids future income to your charity of choice.

    Now, if you give to a charity, and then refuse to claim the charitable tax-deduction — that would be “Noble”.

  22. Lon Nickles Says:
    February 28th, 2011 at 4:40 pm

    One interesting conclusion made by Brooks is that the two most generous groups in America are the rich and the working poor. The middle class give the least.

    There has been mention of religion in several comments. Another conclusion drawn by Brooks from the data that he collected was that “The religious Americans are more likely to give to every kind of cause and charity, including explicitly non-religious charities.” He specifically pointed out that religious people give more than any other group, but it was NOT limited to their particular church (or any religious organization).

  23. JLP Says:
    February 28th, 2011 at 4:42 pm

    BG wrote:

    “Now, if you give to a charity, and then refuse to claim the charitable tax-deduction — that would be ‘Noble.’”

    So you’re saying that any giving that receives a tax deduction is not noble? Wow. What about giving done by people who don’t have enough deductions to surpass the standard deduction? Is that noble giving? How could it be since the standard deduction implies at least some charitable giving (at least I think it would)?

  24. BG Says:
    February 28th, 2011 at 4:49 pm

    I’m saying that you “giving” $100, when in fact you are only giving $75 is not Noble. You need to give credit where credit is due and acknowledge the $25 government matching contribution (from other taxpayers).

  25. BG Says:
    February 28th, 2011 at 5:09 pm

    “So you’re saying that any giving that receives a tax deduction is not noble?”

    Yep, badly worded. How about this: Giving to charity is noble, however, giving to charity, and receiving nothing in return is ‘more noble’.

    If you ‘give’ $100, and it costs you $100 in take home pay, and it costs the government $0 — that is true giving (in the Jesus sense — secret giving).

    If we don’t want to acknowledge that government matches are ‘charity’ — then lets just eliminate the charitable deduction exemptions altogether. Love to see how ‘conservatives’ would consider that idea…

  26. Beeg Says:
    February 28th, 2011 at 5:14 pm

    “Would Jesus today, be labeled a conservative, or a liberal? Answer honestly.”

    Neither…read the parable of the prodigal son. Each of the “liberal” and “conservative” can identify with one of the two brothers. Both were wrong.

    “I’m saying that you “giving” $100, when in fact you are only giving $75 is not Noble. You need to give credit where credit is due and acknowledge the $25 government matching contribution (from other taxpayers).”

    You are right. I vote we just have a flat tax on all income (or expenses) for federal taxes. I vote for 9.9% of all income. This would get rid of a lot of loop holes, progressive taxes, etc. Simplification requiring 100% state ratification to over turn it. Then, let the govt cut all programs so that it’s no more than 9.9% of American’s income. Also, state taxes can be no more than 9.9% either.

    This will never happen, until the current federal government goes bankrupt.

  27. Beeg Says:
    February 28th, 2011 at 5:17 pm

    “If you ‘give’ $100, and it costs you $100 in take home pay, and it costs the government $0 — that is true giving (in the Jesus sense — secret giving).”

    Jesus also said to pay unto Caesar what is Caesar’s and to God what is God’s.

    I dont think he would advise you wasting your capital by not filing the proper documentation.

  28. JLP Says:
    February 28th, 2011 at 5:34 pm

    BG wrote:

    “If you ‘give’ $100, and it costs you $100 in take home pay, and it costs the government $0 — that is true giving (in the Jesus sense — secret giving).”

    I do that kind of giving too.

  29. Mark Says:
    February 28th, 2011 at 5:58 pm

    This is one of the most ridiculous hair-splitting set of comments I have read on this blog.

    First off, our definition of conservative has been so twisted over time that we now have so-called social conservatives (those who wish to impose moral values on topics such as abortion, teenage pregnancy, etc) lumped together with fiscal conservatives (those who believe in small mind-your-own-business government). These are two separate things.

    True conservatives mind their own business – which means they don’t pay for abortions and they also don’t take a public position on whether someone else should have an abortion.

    Second, we are defining compassionate as “generous” and “charitable”. Even if so-called conservatives are generous and charitable, that does not make them compassionate. So much coming out of the mouths of conservative commentators is cruel and unkind. That is not compassionate, no matter how much money they give away. They often hide behind “Love the sinner, hate the sin”, but when 95% of the words are about the sin and 5% or less about the sinner, it doesn’t sound very compassionate to me.

    Third, the argument about the tax deduction is simply preposterous. Everyone knows that government use tax policy to motivate social policy. The US government (i.e., we the people) has decided that giving to charity is a “good thing”, so it is promoted via a deduction. Since the government is willing to subsidize my decision should I give $75 and not take the deduction or give $100 and take the deduction? Anyone who doesn’t take advantage of the deduction to give other peoples money to their favorite cause is stupid.

  30. Lindsay Downs Says:
    February 28th, 2011 at 6:00 pm

    My NOT GIVING the government money (tax deduction) does not mean the government is SPENDING money. That’s like saying a tax cut is the same as “government spending”. This train of thought irritates me because it insinuates that the government “owns” all of my money and is gracious when it allows me to spend 80% of it however I choose.

    Government spending is not “charity” because no organization or institution can have feelings or emotions. “Charitable” means: showing or motivated by sympathy and understanding and generosity, full of love and generosity. Only people can have these things. When government issues “programs” and “policies”, one of the common things you will hear from the people putting those programs into place is “my hands are tied” or “there’s nothing I can do”. They must according to the rules set up in the policy, so they are not given any leeway to have sympathy or understand for individual people.

    People who are religious are more charitable because they have a reason to be. They generally believe that there is something better to do with their money, and that helping people is something that is good in and of itself, and will also be rewarded by God. That’s not to say that people who are not religious don’t have ANY motive to give, but their decisions will be based solely on how they feel at the moment, and not by any “bigger picture”, so their giving will be less predictable over all.

  31. Mark Says:
    February 28th, 2011 at 6:03 pm

    Correction: I meant to say … they don’t pay for OTHER PEOPLE’S abortions …

  32. BG Says:
    February 28th, 2011 at 6:09 pm

    Mark said: “Everyone knows that government use tax policy to motivate social policy.”

    Exactly my point. When the original author claims:

    “Let us be clear: Government spending is not charity. It is not a voluntary sacrifice by individuals.”

    I propose the opposite: government spending is charity (specifically in the case with the charitable deductions). It is the voluntary sacrifice, not by individuals per-se, but by society overall.

    If people want to claim that government spending isn’t charity — then they should eat their own words by not filling Schedule-A and claiming any deductions for charitable giving.

    Like I said in comment #5 — you can’t have one without the other.

  33. BG Says:
    February 28th, 2011 at 6:13 pm

    “That’s like saying a tax cut is the same as “government spending”.”

    So, it doesn’t cost the government anything to cut taxes? Please show the math…

    It is people with your mindset that is the reason why we have huge federal deficits — because the tax-cuts in 2001 were never ‘paid for’ with spending cuts.

  34. JLP Says:
    February 28th, 2011 at 6:25 pm

    BG wrote:

    “I propose the opposite: government spending is charity (specifically in the case with the charitable deductions). It is the voluntary sacrifice, not by individuals per-se, but by society overall.”

    Sorry, but that is wrong. When the government institutes it, it is not voluntary. As we’ve seen with health care, the government doesn’t always do what the people want. Government confiscation is not charity.

    IF the government did not offer a deduction for charitable contributions, it wouldn’t change how much I give. I would still give the same amount. I might direct it other places and I might do more secret giving but it wouldn’t change how much I give. I consider the deduction a blessing.

  35. JLP Says:
    February 28th, 2011 at 6:35 pm

    BG wrote:

    “It is people with your mindset that is the reason why we have huge federal deficits — because the tax-cuts in 2001 were never ‘paid for’ with spending cuts.”

    It’s much more than that. It’s decades of stupid policies by both parties that got us into trouble. This is what happens when the government starts getting involved in things they have no business getting involved in.

  36. Stacey Says:
    February 28th, 2011 at 11:41 pm

    @19 Phil, thanks for the link. It does pass the sniff test with me. When one thinks about a $1 (or whatever figure) paid to a newly-employed person working its way thru the economic system (you buy goods, stores are built, people are employed in the stores, inventory is reordered, truck drivers are hired, etc.) it is similar to how a charity, as an employer, creates economic development thru research, hiring people to fulfill their program missions, act as managers, renting facilities, etc.

    BG, are you sure you shouldn’t have become a lawyer (or preacher!) I hope your wife is of like mind or you may be found dead some day of mysterious causes :) LOL!!

  37. BG Says:
    March 1st, 2011 at 9:07 am

    Stacey) LOL! My wife isn’t so interested in politics or budgets, so I’m not worried.

    I did consider becoming a preacher (for a very short period of time). My job pays me to look at things objectionably, with an open mind, consider all view points, etc.

    Reading the arguments from JLP and others, and their argument is not holding water. If the government is, in-effect, paying a matching contribution to the charity of your choice — then yes, _some_ government spending is charity. The charitable tax-deduction is the most ‘plain as day’ example. And if people don’t understand that simple example, I might as well be talking to a wall — heh.

    I’m pretty sure the US Government (made up of us citizens, btw) is by far the most charitable government on the planet. We give tremendously to foreign nations, third-world countries, food & medical supplies, Haiti relief, foreign debt forgiveness, etc.

    And I’m not just talking about individual donations — this stuff is done at the federal government level as a matter of fact.

    Is all government spending charity: of course not.
    Is some government spending charity: definitely.

  38. Beeg Says:
    March 1st, 2011 at 10:46 am

    “True conservatives mind their own business – which means they don’t pay for abortions and they also don’t take a public position on whether someone else should have an abortion.”

    Don’t agree. You don’t set the definition for “true conservatives”. I am a conservative and I believe in the rights of the unborn. Once the egg is fertilized, it is a human being in development. Aborting it at any time after this point is murder.

    I do support everyone having their own liberties and freedom, but that includes children that are too young to make decisions for themselves.

    I don’t know how this turned into abortion, but I can’t disagree with you more.

  39. BG Says:
    March 1st, 2011 at 10:57 am

    Beeg) This is way off-topic, but, if abortions should be treated like murders: who should be punished when the crime is committed, and what should the sentence be? (knowing that abortions will be committed regardless of the law, just like ‘normal’ murders).

  40. JLP Says:
    March 1st, 2011 at 11:19 am

    BG,

    Let’s not go there. I ONLY mentioned abortion because you asked what political party Jesus would align with if he was here today.

  41. Beeg Says:
    March 1st, 2011 at 11:21 am

    All parties involved.

  42. Jack Says:
    March 1st, 2011 at 9:29 pm

    “Is some government spending charity: definitely.”

    No, it is not. NO government spending is charity. Why? Because it’s not the government’s money that it’s giving away.

    Taking from one person to give to another is not charity, but theft. Charity is giving what is YOURS.

  43. BG Says:
    March 2nd, 2011 at 1:58 pm

    Jack) OK, I think I am seeing your point. When I say the government is charitable (as in Haiti-releif, and charitable tax deductions) — I think of the government as being made up of, and funded by the citizens of the USA.

    I don’t separate myself, as a citizen (non-governmental employee), from the government. The good things that our government does, I’d like to take some credit for helping fund it. And like-wise, negative things our government does, I write letters to congress-critters letting them know how I dislike those actions. I gladly pay taxes, however, I pay the absolute minimum as allowed by the tax code (I like deductions too).

    And I think you see yourself as separate from the government, like some sort of forced relationship that you have no control of. I’m guessing you hate paying taxes.

    If that is your view point, then I can understand how you can say that no government spending is charitable — because government (forcibly under thread of prison) “confiscates” your money. I happily give them my tax money, and hence my view point differs.

  44. Jack Says:
    March 2nd, 2011 at 3:03 pm

    You “happily” GIVE the government your tax money? I doubt that.

    You can allay my doubts by telling me how much MORE you gave to the government than the tax laws obligated you to give. In 2010, the TOTAL donations were $2.8M. That’s about 4 cents for every person who voted for Obama. How much did they get from you?

    When we were sending aid to Haiti, did you donate to the government relief efforts, or to the Red Cross or some other NGO?

    Government spending can be “charitable” in that it helps those in need, but it cannot be “charity,” in that the government has nothing that it has not taken.

  45. BG Says:
    March 3rd, 2011 at 9:52 am

    Jack) I said: “I pay the absolute minimum as allowed by the tax code.”. I don’t pay extra taxes, but I would if the tax code was changed. I did donate money to Haiti (via RedCross), I have automatic donations coming out of my paycheck for Habitat for Humanity and other charities, and I give various other odd-ball amounts that popup (like when JLP is running a fundraiser for somebody). I have never donated money to any political organization.

    I don’t resent having to pay taxes — I realize that it is necessary if we want to have roads, schools, prisons, armies, FDIC, FDA, USDA, OSHA, CIA, FBI, ATC, ATF, and whatever other 3 or 4 letter acronyms people can come up with.

    I like having my food inspected, water treated, medicines tested, and investments protected. I like having police and firefighters and court systems. I like having my kids educated (by professionals), and I like having hospitals. Government spending, in one way or another, touches everything you see — even if it is just regulations ensuring something is safe and people (and corps) are held accountable.

    If you _want_ those things, then you gladly pay taxes to fund them (and I do). If you find yourself in this society, and you don’t want to fund these things, then write letters to your congress-critters, or move away. You are a part of society too.

    If I were to add it up, I’ve probably paid over $200k in federal taxes so far — and I still think the US is the best country around, even though it has some glaring faults.

  46. Jack Says:
    March 3rd, 2011 at 11:32 am

    “I don’t pay extra taxes, but I would if the tax code was changed.”

    What changes in the tax code would prompt you to do that, BG?

    “I realize that it is necessary if we want to have roads, schools, prisons, armies, FDIC, FDA, USDA, OSHA, CIA, FBI, ATC, ATF, and whatever other 3 or 4 letter acronyms people can come up with.”

    That’s fine, but that is NOT where the majority of our tax money goes. Most of it goes to welfare programs of one sort or another — none of which the FEDERAL government has the Constitutional authority to do.

  47. BG Says:
    March 3rd, 2011 at 1:42 pm

    “What changes in the tax code would prompt you to do that, BG?”

    Any change that resulted in my 1040 spitting out a higher number that I owe for taxes. I’m not talking about a specific change in this context — I’m just saying that if Congress modified that tax-code that resulted in me (and everyone else) paying a higher (or more equal) slice, it wouldn’t bother me one bit.

    “…none of which the FEDERAL government has the Constitutional authority to do.”

    You must be a tea-bagger. If you think the US Government is doing something unconstitutional, then file a case in federal court and let the court system decide. We have three branches of government for a reason — it’s just one big Rock-Paper-Scissors game.

    You REALLY THINK that the government would get away with doing something unconstitutional for any meaningful amount of time with the country polarized the way it is?!?

  48. Jack Says:
    March 3rd, 2011 at 2:59 pm

    ————————-
    BG: I don’t pay extra taxes, but I would if the tax code was changed.

    Jack: What changes in the tax code would prompt you to do that, BG?

    BG: Any change that resulted in my 1040 spitting out a higher number that I owe for taxes.
    ————————-

    Then it would not be EXTRA anymore.

    Is there anything that would prompt you to pay more in taxes than you are required to do my law? In other words, would you ever GIVE to the government, rather than having it TAKEN from you by threat of jail time and violent confiscation?

  49. Jack Says:
    March 3rd, 2011 at 4:20 pm

    “If you think the US Government is doing something unconstitutional, then file a case in federal court and let the court system decide.”

    That would be nice, but requires money and “standing.” I think DC “home rule” is unconstitutional. But I don’t live there, so I don’t have “standing.”

  50. BG Says:
    March 4th, 2011 at 10:23 am

    “I think DC “home rule” is unconstitutional. ”

    See the US Constitution, Article 1, Section 8:

    “…To exercise exclusive Legislation in all Cases whatsoever, over such District (not exceeding ten Miles square) as may, by Cession of particular States, and the acceptance of Congress, become the Seat of the Government of the United States, and…, and…”

    “Then it would not be EXTRA anymore.”

    As I have repeatedly said, I pay no ‘extra’ taxes as that required me by law. I actively search out every deduction & exemption I can to lower may overall tax bill. If congress eliminated deductions that I use, or otherwise mandated that my personal situation requires me to pay EXTRA taxes — then so be it. I don’t fret over stuff like that. I understand that the government is spending far beyond the taxes they take in, and it should be no surprise that changes are coming. I also understand that ‘spending’ can never be cut enough to justify the low level of taxes we (as society) pay today.

  51. Jack Says:
    March 4th, 2011 at 10:55 am

    I disagree, BG. In FY2010, we had $3,106.14B of total government spending (in 2005 dollars), with a $1162.48B deficit. That means we had $1943.66B in revenue to the US government. We last say that level of spending in 1998. So, what does the feral government do for us now that it did not do then? We survived without it then, and we can do so now.

  52. BG Says:
    March 4th, 2011 at 3:14 pm

    Jack) Oh I agree that spending can (and should) be cut. I’m just saying that you aren’t going to cut enough spending and still be able to afford the tax-breaks of the past decade and fight two wars.

    Spending must be cut, and taxes must go up if we are to have any realistic chance of balancing the budget.

    2011 is estimated to have a $1.65 trillion deficit — just for the year alone. Congress is squabbling over $60 billion in spending cuts — that $60b cut isn’t even 4% of the expected DEFICIT. It is less than 2% of total spending.

    And don’t try to claim that ‘not cutting enough’ is the democrats fault. I was on a town-hall conference call with my Republican US Senator, along with a bunch of tea-party people screaming for more cuts. All we heard from him were excuses why more couldn’t be cut. His reasons were because the economy would collapse (and he’s probably right).

    He also said that since he is in the Senate, he has no control — which is pure BS, because the law is that the bill must _originate_ in the House, not that the Senate cant modify it and throw it back over the wall.

    I guess I have another letter to write to my congress critters…

    “So, what does the feral government do for us now that it did not do then? ”

    The reasons why the budget is in the RED since 1998 are: Two wars, TSA, Medicare Part-D, massive income tax cuts, Payroll Tax Holiday, and two recessions. Those are the big ones anyhow.

  53. Jack Says:
    March 4th, 2011 at 3:50 pm

    I do not consider the two wars particularly big. The total spending on both wars is less than one year’s deficit. In fact, our entire defense budget is less than the deficit.

    Still, I’m with you that the war spending can be reduced. TSA can go, as can Medicare Part D. We finally seem to be coming out of the recession, and if we get real democracy in the Middle East, instead of a bunch of Islamic republics, oil prices should come back down.

  54. Jack Says:
    March 8th, 2011 at 11:39 am

    It is also worth noting that his research uncovered that conservatives also spent more TIME on charitable activity — such as scouts, Salvation Army, Little League, etc. — that liberals did. Also, conservatives even gave more blood than liberals did.

  55. BG Says:
    March 14th, 2011 at 10:16 am

    There is an article on CNBC today, titled “For Millionaires, $7 Million Still Not Enough to Be Rich”.

    I guarantee that these poverty-stricken millionaires are paying less taxes than most “middle-class” people (relative to their wealth of course).

  56. Mark Says:
    March 14th, 2011 at 5:30 pm

    @Jack (46): You said “That’s fine, but that is NOT where the majority of our tax money goes. Most of it goes to welfare programs of one sort or another — none of which the FEDERAL government has the Constitutional authority to do.”

    I assume by “most” and “majority” you mean more than 50%. What do you define as welfare programs? Have you actually checked how much money goes to welfare programs? I seriously doubt it is that high.

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