"Nothing is more dreaded than the national government meddling with religion." John Adams

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Call Me Ebenezer

The other day the doorbell rang. Upon opening the door, I found two adorable girls, around age ten, asking me to support their cause by purchasing raffle tickets or magazines or some such. I quickly and forcefully said, "NO THANK-YOU!" and shut my cheery red door before they could even show disappointment.

This was out of character for me. I am usually the first to fork over whatever cash I have in my wallet to whatever good cause is placed in front of me. I always try and be as generous with my money as I possibly can be, which usually leaves me with no cash to give my teenager when she needs gas in her car. I tell you this not because I am patting myself on the back, but to illustrate the oddity of my behavior.

So why did I slam the door in the faces of two cute and innocent girls? They were raising money for the local public school. I am not opposed to public school but I notice that I become quite uncharitable when the public school kids come around asking for money. Why? It is because I have paid thousands upon thousands in property taxes over the years and never once sent any of my 4 kids to public schools. We have always paid extra for private school or homeschooled with no help from our school district.

So, to be honest, whether correctly or not, I see my taxes as a charitable donation for services I will never use. (I say the same thing about my husband's gym membership.) And even more frankly, it took everything I had not to scream at children from the public school standing on my doorstep, "Do I not pay taxes? Is that not enough?!"

And then I realized in that shameful moment I had become Ebenezer Scrooge, uncharitable in wallet, uncharitable in mind, and uncharitable in spirit. I might as well have screamed, “Are there no prisons?... And the Union workhouses? Are they still in operation?... The Treadmill and the Poor Law are in full vigour, then?... I help to support the establishments I have mentioned—they cost enough." (I like to think I would never get to "decrease the surplus population" part.)

The other day was not the only time you could have called me Ebenezer. I have lived in places with high tax rates, both income and sales tax and in places with lower tax rates. I found my "Ebenezer Factor" was directly proportional to the tax rate. And in a completely non-scientific study, I found the "Ebenezer Factor" of my neighbors to follow the same trend. The higher the tax rate, the more my neighbors found excuses to leave the problems of the less fortunate to the government.

Taxes are a necessary evil. They are pernicious in the sense that they make us less charitable; allowing us to delegate to the government what should be our personal responsibility to take care of the less fortunate. A responsibility our Savior instructed us to never shirk.

And while there are plenty that think that more taxes means more help for the poor and a better, more charitable society, I disagree. Charity is not simply about helping those in need but opening our hearts and giving. An act that is as critical for the soul of the giver as it is for the physical need of the recipient. I have found that an uncharitable wallet leads to an uncharitable spirit. Through personal experience, I am convinced more taxes mean less charity and charity is a virtue our modern world sorely needs.

Rebecca Taylor blogs at Mary Meets Dolly

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John Frank said...

Can you imagine the responses if you went door to door asking for donations to homeschool your kids?

Sweet and Sauer said...

I almost thought I was radin gone of my own blogposts. I could have written this myself because I feel teh same way. A co-worker brought her children's "Claire's Gourmet Food" sales brochures to work last week. These days the public schools in this area (D.C.) do not sell America's FInest Chocolate bars for $2.00 (orm teh may be $3.00 by now). No, they sell food products that range from the lowest $13.50 (for buckets of cookie dough - makes 3 dozen) to $35.00 turtle cheesecake. They keep about half the money they make. And the food is NOT gourmet quality. Like you, we send our 2 daughters to Catholic schools (1 in grade school and 1 a senior in high school). We pay more than $6000/year in county property taxes, which is more than I used to pay for my entire mortgage in a midwestern state. So I do not have any qualms about not participating in fundraisers whent the flyers get left on our door. But I did buy an apple crumb cake from my co-worker -- for Thanksgiving. It had better be good for $22.00!!

Sweet and Sauer said...

Sorry for all the typos in that last post. I am so used to auto-correct and spell check! I really am not that uneducated -- I went to Catholic school, too! Just careless and sloppy!

Amy Giglio said...

I get this. Living in my city in NJ, paying nearly $6000/year in property taxes on a 2 bedroom, 1000 sqft duplex on a 25x100 lot when I don't even use our just OK schools makes me mad, too. But I have a hard time being rude to the little girls. They're just kids.

Rebecca Taylor said...

Yeah, Amy. Not my finest moment. Which is what prompted me to examine my motives and write this piece.

Mary De Voe said...

This is abuse of the public school children. There are property taxes, the lottery is promised to pay for public education. Here in the Diocese of Wilmington, our bishop has initiated a collection to help pay Catholic School tuition. We need nuns, teaching sisters and we need priests to become good bishops. Enough with the abuse of children. Every kind of abuse. And then find out that the Girl Scouts get a paltry amount for all the cookies they have to hawk. And then the frozen cookie dough gets thrown out.

Sophia's Favorite said...

Do you say the DoD should provide care packages to the troops, rather than them being provided by charity?

Do you say the cops or firefighters shouldn't have dances, dinners, or raffles to raise funds for things like their pension funds?

Better Than Eden said...

You hit the nail on the head. I've always wanted to see a really good study on the relationship between taxes and charitable giving.

Steve "scotju" Dalton said...

If yo want to "decrease the surplus population" support the public schools. They have sex ed that will teach birth control and the violence in many of the inner city schools well take care of the rest!

Dymphna said...

I simply refuse to buy the stuff. I don't use the public schools but I'm taxed for them and we have some of the dumbest kids in the nation so I'm not even getting my money back in decent citizens.

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