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How Government Suffocates Charity

We are a young, lower middle class family, and we give some 15-17 percent of our income to charity, or slightly less than we pay in taxes. Some goes to organizations that feed and provide healthcare to the poor. Private charities do this far more efficiently than the government, and as small-time donors we have the extra satisfaction of knowing our money goes to causes we are close to. Charitable giving is a venerable American tradition: “Americans are the world’s most generous givers, donating more than $300 billion annually to a wide range of causes, with most of the gifts coming from individuals,” Nolan Finley wrote in the Detroit News this week. Yet the president wants to limit charitable deductions. The pending January 2 tax hike—what everyone is calling the “fiscal cliff”—will mean we cannot afford half our usual charitable contributions next year. Once ObamaCare kicks in, I honestly don’t know if we can afford to give to charity at all, after our non-negotiable church tithes, because we pay most of our health expenses out of pocket, and we expect all health costs to rise. Giving in a higher-tax world will mean for us no more trips to let the kids visit their faraway grandparents, more servings of beans and rice, and so forth. To me, this is a moral outrage, especially in light of the following graph explaining our government largely funds not critical programs, but subsidies to people who did not earn them. Eberstadt Transfer Graph According to Nicholas Eberstadt, from whose shocking little factbook this graph and information comes, the federal government spends two-thirds of its taxes on entitlements: welfare, food stamps, unemployment, Medicaid, Social Security and Medicare. In 2010 (latest figures), it transferred $7,200 for every man, woman and child in the country. That’s almost $29,000 per two-child family. Our own family is certainly not getting that much, and we sure aren’t paying that much in taxes (nor could we afford to). But someday we or our children must—and in return for no new government services. No improved roads, no new school buildings, no available safety net spending, no extra F-35s to keep Iran-inspired madmen away from our shores. So to injustice, we add theft. Why should our savings and hard work go to people who are not willing to also work and save? I feel like the Little Red Hen, except I don’t get to eat my own bread. It’s mathematically impossible for the U.S. to keep paying more and more into entitlement programs on the shoulders of fewer and fewer contributing citizens. The more government punishes people who work hard and rewards others for not, the worse off our economy will become. Ultimately, unless we change course, more people will become poor and suffer.