Bill Wayne's Political Pages - The Gadfly
Gadfly 177
Submitted to the Warrensburg Gazette for February 12, 2003

The Gadfly is a series of letters offering commentary on local issues and published in the Warrensburg Gazette.

The President has proposed channeling tax money to “faith based organizations” that help people in need. This, as I understand it, would expand the number of organizations eligible to participate in such programs and might help lower the cost of delivering the services. The collapse of CASA has reminded me what’s wrong with the “faith based” program.

The problem, to my mind, is not one of separation of church and state. It is clear that the 1st Amendment intended to prohibit the establishment of an official religion, not to prohibit official establishments from mentioning religion. The so-called wall of separation is a relatively recent construct.

The problem is that government has virtually taken over the functions involved with providing for people in various states of need. Not only has a wasteful bureaucracy been established, but many charities now rely on government support and handouts. We have seen it locally – the first thing many organizations do is hire a director to start writing grant requests. We have seen organizations obtain free meeting space. And we have seen organizations fail when tax support dried up.

The tax system is the engine that drives this machine. As long as there is an income tax that gives deductions for donations to approved charities (ones with proper tax status), funds will be directed to them and not to non-deductible local needs. These needs are then not met locally, so the government steps in to either take over the functions directly or to fund someone to do it locally. Naturally, the government takes its cut of every dollar sent it.

What’s the solution? The first step would be to adopt the “Fair Tax” – a national consumption-based tax that would get the government out of our charitable decisions. Might help it downsize a bit, too.

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