Friday, August 20, 2010

What's In It For Me?

A comment post down-column by Anonymous: "Why should I pay anything for someone else's recreation?"

Oh, I don't know ... maybe you'll get bit by that awful virus generosity and become (gasp!) civic-minded:
civic-minded (adjective) -- having, showing, or actively carrying out one's concern for the condition and affairs of one's community; public-spirited

Or maybe you'll review the "social contract" that built the greatness of the country from the Declaration of Independence forward, that we owe one another the advantages of community even if we personally chose to eat our bitter bread in strict isolation from our fellow citizens, hating every last one of them for having fun at our expense.

Or -- again, I don't know -- maybe you'll even come within hailing distance of the words of Jesus in the New Testament:
Verily I say unto you, Inasmuch as ye have done it unto one of the least of these my brethren, ye have done it unto me. Matt. 25:40

H.L. Mencken defined "Puritanism" as "the haunting fear that someone, somewhere, may be happy." The Tea Party in America of 2010 seems like nothing so much as a gaggle of Puritans, absolutely obsessed that someone else may be enjoying the benefits of community, the fruits of the Social Contract, a banquet of Christian charity. Rather than that, they smell shit every waking hour, and it shows on their faces.

I've never been able to bring myself to resent paying taxes. It's obviously a deep moral flaw. I don't mind paying for schools, and better schools, and newer schools, even though I don't have children in them. I don't mind paying for public swimming pools or public gymnasiums, even though I'll never swim or shoot baskets in them. I don't mind, even, paying for the Medicare and Social Security that a large proportion of the Tea Party obviously draw on. I feel it's part of the tacit contract I share with my fellow citizens.

The "what's in it for me" crowd produces its fair share of political candidates, of course, and history shows that a sizable number of them, if they manage to get into "public service," mainly serve themselves. Virginia Foxx has doubled her own wealth during the three terms she's "served" in the U.S. House.

The Tea Party and its politicians are entitled to their views, of course, but if their views prevail, it'll be no country for old men, nor for old women either.


Anonymous said...

You are using my post out of context. I firmly believe in donating to recreation causes of my own free will. I choose where my money goes. In the past I have given to many causes such as the Boy Scouts, the Little League, and the Booster Club at the high school. This is entirely different from having mymoney stolen by taxes and used for purposes I do not control. As usual Williamson is disingenuous.

anon said...

JW - your hatred shines through once again, and you completely miss the boat and do not understand AT ALL anything about conservatives or tea party followers. Every year you can find information regarding giving from tax returns of congressional leadership, and every year it is the same. Which party do you think, in general, on average, and in the aggregate, gives more money to charities? It's not your beloved democrats, I'll tell you that. Giving and sharing, to me, is about giving your time and money freely, and not by force to the government so it can decide who gets what and when - especially when governmental priorities are way out of whack with what the majority of people want. I'm conservative, and I will be voting yes for the additional .25 of 1% sales tax increase. However, I don't trust that it will pay for what the commissioners say it will pay for, but I'm willing, in this case, to let them have a run at it. I was very, very unimpressed with Jim Deal calling out names the other night at the referendum meeting. It was classless and shameful. Of course, you loved it, because you generally like to spew hatred of people you don't like and who don't agree with you. You just love that freedom of speech stuff, as long as you agree with what someone else says.

Not only are you disingenuous, you are hypocritical as well. But hey, it's your blog, say whatever you want. And if my comment does not get axed, then I shoot it right back at you.

BikerBard said...

What an eloquent and ABSOLUTELY correct analysis of the Anon BS! And this was NOT taken out of context. That was EXACTLY the context he/she meant! Anon wants to CONTROL where his taxes are used. He's mad because he doesn't get to CONTROL his taxes. Boo hoo!

Too bad! You VOTE for people to make those decisions. That's the way it's done in America - we're a Representative Democracy. You don't like it - run for office. Your person doesn't get voted in - tough!

PS: You have the Conservatives and Tea Baggers EXACTLY figured out, Jerry!

"The lady doth protest, too much, methinks!" - W.S.

Anonymous said...

And I guess Jim Deal was being civic-minded when he had his little temper tantrum.

jemphd said...

I didn't approve of my taxes being spent on invading Iraq, so what recourse is there? Not paying the neo cons taxes? I'll vote for .025% taxes and watch where it actually goes rather than be an obstructionist.

MR said...

And these anonymous and anon posters call themselves Christians?!?!?

The opponents have offered four reasons to oppose the tax increase -- three of them are simply false. Only one has any merit (the county is in debt). But that is why the tax will be imposed, to pay for it, along with the federal money that goes away if not spent soon.

How embarrassing it is to be on the wrong side of this issue for these "Christians."

Anonymous said...

Actually, the poor give more of their income to charity than do the wealthy.

A number of other studies have shown that lower-income Americans give proportionally more of their incomes to charity than do upper-income Americans. In 2001, Independent Sector, a nonprofit organization focused on charitable giving, found that households earning less than $25,000 a year gave away an average of 4.2 percent of their incomes; those with earnings of more than $75,000 gave away 2.7 percent.

brushfire said...

I hear a lot of "Tea party" type people explain how generous and Christian they are about giving to charitable causes they deem worthy.It must make them feel very powerful and superior to decide who is worthy of their beneficence. Unfortunately all that private self-directed generosity, while it enables us to toot our own horns and garner praise and gratitude, just doesn't deal with problems very effectively. Many of us would prefer to pay more taxes in order to know that all children have the medical care they need, or adequate food and shelter, and a safe place to play and learn. These are basic requirements of a decent society. A decent society doesn't come about by placing donation cans on store counters. It requires everyone to contribute, whether they are feeling generous or not.

BikerBard said...

Interesting perspective. Good post!

Mike D. said...

"Unfortunately all that private self-directed generosity, while it enables us to toot our own horns and garner praise and gratitude, just doesn't deal with problems very effectively" - Brushfire

One time I read a comparison between private, non-profit charity and government-run social charity. If I recall, the study said that one 1 out of every 4 dollars donated to a private charity makes it to the end user as a tangible benefit.

But in the case of government programs, only 1 out of every 8 dollars made it all the way through the bureaucratic process to the person in need, rendering government programs half as efficient, or twice as wasteful.

Most of your arguments are quite strong, Brushfire, but this is one is just an excuse to be in love with big government programs. There can be no doubt that government charity is much less efficient than private charity.

'Effective' - "adequate to accomplish a purpose; producing the intended or expected result"

Anonymous said...

Mr. Williams,
Your use of the bible to make your point astounds me as you claim to believe not one word of it. You also pick and choose those verses that work to your advantage at the time. How about these:
Proverbs 14:23
All hard work brings a profit, but mere talk leads only to poverty.
Proverbs 21:25
The sluggard's craving will be the death of him, because his hands refuse to work.
and I think this last one suits you best: 1 Thessalonians 4:11
Make it your ambition to lead a quiet life, to mind your own business and to work with your hands

Anonymous said...

Well, the referendum FAILED.

So much for forcing others to pay for your recreation.

You'll just have to think of another way to slip the New Jim Deal Recreation Center pass the tax payers.