Collectivism vs. Charity
In the midst of an argument about the dubiousness of some charitable tax deductions that I generally agree with, Conor Clarke makes an astounding leap:
Decisions about what will make our community better should be made communally — by pooling revenue and making collective decisions about where and how it should be spent.
Methinks someone needs to re-read The Road to Serfdom. The path that begins with communal decision-making about “what’s best for the community” is one that ends up with the individual as a mere cog in the community, with no agency of his own.
Even if we construe Clarke’s point narrowly, considering it only in the context of charitable giving, it’s problematic.
Surely, we wouldn’t want to strip private individuals and foundations of the right to make decisions about what’s good for the community and to act upon those decisions? The best charities are not only more effective than government at targeting problems but they’re more innovative in identifying areas of need and coming up with new solutions.
To be sure, there are ineffective charities run by inept individuals and some big time “charities” that are essentially a license to steal for the leadership, who leave little for the ostensible cause the organization supports after the top people take their cut. It doesn’t make sense to subsidize donating to these people by allowing tax write-offs.
One might also argue that private individuals shouldn’t be subsidized by the federal taxpayer for contributing to non-profits of their choosing. Arguably, a dollar going to the Federal government is more valuable to me than a dollar going to an organization working toward a cause I oppose. (Then again…) Any reform or elimination proposals will have to keep in mind the tax incidence issue that Steve Verdon raises, of course, but it’s a debate worth having.
Cartoon: Look Magazine