Ok, I admit it. I titled this post to be deliberately provocative. I don’t actually think Barack Obama is against people helping each other. But is that his end, however unintentional?
The more I hear about his budget, the more disturbed I get. As much as I’d like to focus on the evils of Cap n’ Trade (and I do mean evils — it hurts the poor most), I’ll put that one on hold for now.
So here is where my thoughts have been going lately. I’d love for some of you to tell me whether I’m off base.
I have to file my taxes next month. I keep procrastinating. I dread doing it. I’m always worried about making a mistake and I’m not rich enough to hire it out to the tax prep professionals.
Now, I hear three very interesting things.
1 – Obama is going to reduce the charitable tax deduction.
2 – Obama is going to substantially increase funding for Americorp to pay a quarter of a million volunteers
3 – Obama is going to grow entitlement programs, including eliminating successful welfare reform.
As a conservative, I think the entire tax code is too convoluted. I’d be open to either a flat tax or a consumption tax in one of the many iterations that they have been proposed. I’m aware that either of these would eliminate the charitable deduction in most models I’ve seen.
But, as much as I would like to see a few IRS agents find a new line of work, it’s probably more likely that Roe v. Wade will be overturned in the next 20 years than that the tax code will be substantially simplified.
So, I’m not inherently opposed to getting rid of the charitable tax deduction – as long as every other deduction and privilege disappears along with it and I end up paying less overall. Since, that idea belongs in fantasyland for the forseeable future, we are left with our lovely tax code as the playground for politicians social engineering schemes.
And, I have to say that scares me. Obama’s reduction of the charitable tax deduction is conservatively estimated to reduce charitable giving by about $9 BILLION every single year. This, when charities are already struggling in a recessionary economy – and the poorest Americans most need the help many of these charitable organizations provide.
But, never fear, the President’s budget comes to the rescue. If charities can’t help the poor, government will. Government will pay volunteers. Government will expand entitlements. The soup kitchen disappears. But you’ll be eligible for food stamps as long as you need them. In a bad economy, volunteerism suffers. Don’t worry, Obama has an army of them on the payroll. Oh, one caveat, the government volunteers can’t help faith-based organizations. (no biggie, right?) Non-profit professionals on unemployment when fund raising lags and charities can’t meet payroll? No big deal, big brother will be extending those unemployment benefits for a long time.
Am I imagining things, or is the net result of the social engineering in the Obama budget a usurpation of private charity by a government that sounds increasingly like that predicted benevolent despot?
….[the new despotism] likes citizens to enjoy themselves provided that they think only of enjoying themselves. It willingly works for their happiness; but it wants to be the unique agent and sole arbiter of that; it provides for their security, foresees and secures their needs, facilitates their pleasures, conducts their principal affairs, directs their industry, regulates their estates, divides their inheritances; can it not take away from them entirely the trouble of thinking and the pain of living?…. - Alexis deTocqueville
See, I knew there was a reason I liked that Frenchman, deTocqueville.
So, would it be entirely too cynical to suggest that such a new despotism – one that cultivates dependent citizens – tends to empower one particular political party at the expense of another?