Friday, March 29, 2013

Why Is the Tea Party So Mad About Their Taxes Helping Others?

What really incenses the Tea Party is the idea that their taxes help cheaters who do not really need the help.   

That anger is what leads to the (unjust) leap from knowing that there are some cheaters to believing that all of the 47% (or whatever the number might be) are cheaters.   

When I help cheaters, I do not reap a status benefit for kindness, but lose one as a sucker.


Mac said...

This reflects the problem that is created when government replaces local entities (churches, etc) as a primary source of charity. When it was the church, the community chest, and other similar local entities that took care of those who needed help, they were dealing with people they knew. They knew who was actually needy, as opposed to someone who was looking for the easy way out. And they were good stewards of their resources.

When government changed charitable giving from a voluntary act into forced "giving" by taxation, two things happened.

First, people resented being forced to give to poor stewards--those who distributed resources carelessly and for political gain. Second, a huge centralized pot of money that "doesn't belong to anybody, it's just government money" is so bureaucratically entangled that scammers know that they have fewer chances of being discovered because those who are making the distributions have a vested interest (their "jobs") in keeping the flow of money going to ever-increasing numbers of recipients. If they report the number of scammers and remove them from the rolls of the genuinely needy, the numbers of distributors needed drops and the bureaucracy--from the front lines, up through management--begins to lose make work jobs.

Our Board of Deacons is generous to a fault in helping those who we know are truly needy, and our congregation sees to it that the Deacons have the money necessary to take care of "the least of these." But because they know who it is they are working with, they make sure that every dollar goes where it is really needed.

MMMSecret said...

To Mac's comment: I have come to dislike the idea of judging who is "truly needy" versus who is not. Yes, there are lazy people who will not work to support themselves. But that doesn't make them inhuman. It might make them broken, but not inhuman.

It is in the interest of all of society to have a floor to the amount of poverty we permit, we are wealthy enough to do it and it is morally right to take care of those who can't (and even those who won't) take care of themselves. We'd be better off trying to heal those who are broken than judging them and disregarding them.

Unfortunately, I fear, far too many of our churches do too much judging and/or simply exist to sell spirituality to the consumers of religion rather than outreach (particularly outreach that acutally helps the needy without judging them). Additionally, far too many of our privileged who are able to give, prefer to give to animal or disease charities in leiu of giving to the poor whom they so often believe "choose to be poor" through laziness and other bad choices. So if we do not "force" giving through taxes, there will be far too many who are left unserved.

Mac said...

To MMMSecret: I suppose your admission that there are some (many?) who "are lazy [] [and] who will not work to support themselves" is what divides us. Taken to its logical extreme, you are suggesting that society has a "duty" to support anyone who consciously decides to abuse the charity of others. I am not suggesting that such people are "inhuman" (sic), I'm simply suggesting that they drain resources from those who really need help.

You write "It is in the interest of all of society to have a floor to the amount of poverty we permit, we are wealthy enough to do it and it is morally right to take care of those who can't (and even those who won't) take care of themselves." I agree, in part.

It is in the interest of society and morally right to ensure those who "would, but can't" are given a humane minimum standard of living, i.e., decent shelter, decent and sufficient sustenance, and are warmly and decently clothed. For those who "could, but won't", from whence comes a societal or a moral duty to give them anything? I seem to have missed that idea in the course of my classical education.

Additionally, I think you are overly harsh towards churches, I agree that there are those, e.g., the PC(USA), which simply exist to sell spirituality to the consumers of religion. At my last PC(USA) presbytery meeting before we disaffiliated and moved to the EPC, the chair of the social outreach committee urged us to do something to "save the whales." Sadly, no one spoke to saving sinners.

Insofar as "outreach that acutally (sic)helps the needy without judging them" is concerned, I have two comments. First, in any such giving, some degree of judgement is unavoidable. You judge that anyone who is below what you also judge to be a minimum should receive financial assistance to raise them to your minimum. I'll bet you disagree with what I judge to be a minimum.

Second, when multiple bureaucracies are involved in collecting the taxes from one group of people and then transfering it to another group, does not that deprive the needy of funds that, if delivered locally, could be higher without unduly burdening the "givers."

You picked up on my use of the concept of "forced giving." From my vantage point looking back over the past 50 years, I have seen government program after government program ostensibly created to help the poor do nothing but create huge bureaucracies, and result in increases in the number of "poor'" the disintegration of families, and a huge jump in "poverty" in our Nation. By the way, if you want to see real poverty, go to, e.g., West Point in Monrovia, Liberia. I can assure you that the poorest person in Philadelphia would be aghast!

Finally, I take issue with your suggestion that the giving by those of us who also contribute towards helping find cures or more effective treatments for such diseases as cancer, juvenile diabetes, MD and others, is unworthy and immoral. I suspect that someone who is suffering from one of those diseases would think that your position is inhuman.

MMMSecret said...

To Mac, We disagree on many fundamentals which I will not bother to discuss further.

However, I will point out that I didn't say giving to disease based charities is immoral. I said far too many of our wealthy give to these charities IN LIEU of giving to the poor. Having worked with the wealthy as an estate planner in a former professional life, I am quite familiar (and disgusted by) the "charitable giving" patterns of those who deem the poor to be inhuman (as in not human versus inhumane, which I would say several of my past clients were).

As you appear to be Christian, I'll reference the gospels to support my position: Jesus certainly directed us to heal the sick, but he also told us to give to the poor, shelter the homeless and feed the hungry--and nowhere do I remember a proviso that we should only care for the poor, homeless and hungry who aren't lazy.

Anonymous said...

Christ is the biggest sucker of all. I think that's lost on the Tea Party; though to be fair they aren't a religious body.

Joe B. said...

If local entities (churches, etc) had been sufficient, government would not have needed to step in.

Liberals and conservatives can generally agree that it is good to help those truly in need who will benefit from the help, and that it is bad for others to cheat by taking help they don't really need. But any attempt to help those in need will open opportunities for some to cheat, and any attempt to screen for cheaters will result in some who really need the help falling through the cracks. Conservatives tend to emphasize minimizing cheating, and are willing to accept more people falling through the cracks as a price; liberals tend to emphasize making sure that everyone who really needs help gets it, and are willing to accept more cheaters as a price.

Another difference I see is that conservatives always seem to say it is themselves as taxpayers who are being cheated, whereas liberals tend to note that the truly needy for whom the welfare is intended are also being cheated by the cheaters.

Nancy Botwin said...

"Nanny State" wants everyone to depend on her Jeff...
She will bankrupt us all. We will all be equally broke.

gruntled said...


Nancy Botwin said...

Joe, sorry G...

Anonymous said...

To MMMSecret,

2 Thes 3:10 - In fact, when we were with you, we instructed you that if anyone was unwilling to work, neither should that one eat.

Hmmmm, seems pretty clear that lazy is not an acceptable excuse for taking the money of the charitable....that's what infuriates those who are forced to fund these government programs.