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Taxes are not a Form of Charity

By: Joseph M. Young, December 20, 2010

First off, let us define some key terms that many people use to describe taxes that are used to
help the needy, elderly, and poor of our country. Watching the O’Reilly Factor with Bill
O’Reilly tonight, I happened to notice this issue was in the forefront of the beginning segment.
Many Democrats were criticizing the Republicans for not being very charitable by resisting
allowing President Bush’s tax cuts to expire on the wealthy. I will first define the word charity
along with two key terms in association with the term; the other two terms are donation and give.
The definitions are standard for these terms and have been derived from but the
definitions do not differ in the Oxford English Dictionary. In addition, I do not differentiate the
Medicare and Medicaid and social security programs at this juncture in time as all three
programs fall under a category of taking care of the needy whether they are young or retired.
Original intents do not matter and whether the government “took” money from the fund is
irrelevant as these programs are no longer self-sustaining based on the contributions collected.

I will venture to enter a side note concerning the three aforementioned programs. First, all three
programs fall outside of the constitutional restrictions of the federal government as outlined and
stipulated in the Tenth Amendment. “The powers not delegated to the United States by the
Constitution, nor prohibited by it to the States, are reserved to the States respectively, or to the
people.” Nowhere in the constitution is there an amendment that articulates that the federal
government is empowered with the authority to provide any type of retirement or medical care
for the people of the United States. Therefore, these programs should have never been enacted
without a constitutional amendment being passed. Second, the original benefits promised are
much fewer than the benefits that have been promised to succeeding generations. It is the opinion
of this writer that the promises of increased benefits were made in an attempt to keep the U.S.
taxpayer tied to these programs. Third, whatever our protestations or affirmations for these three
programs may or may not be in there original implementation; that situation does not apply
currently and the current bankruptcy of these and other social programs designed to benefit the
poor must be dealt with today as they currently are in their present form.

Here is the list of definitions as applied to this essay and I will take precaution to define further
terms as it becomes apropos to do so.

Charity – (1.) Generous actions or (a.) donations to aid the poor, ill, or helpless. (2.) Something
(b.) given to a person or persons in need; alms. (3.) A charitable act or work. (4.) Charitable fund,
foundation, or institution as in: He left his estate to a charity.

A. Donation – (1.) An act or instance of presenting something as a gift, grant, or contribution.

(2.) a gift, as to a fund; contribution.

B. Give – (1.) To present voluntarily and without expecting compensation; bestow or to give a
birthday present to someone.
Tax – (1.) A sum of money demanded by a government for its support or for specific facilities or
services, levied upon incomes, property, sales, etc. (2.) A burdensome charge, obligation, duty,
or demand.

It is interesting to note that conservatives have been called selfish, mean spirited, and cruel for
not supporting the charitable work of the government for the poor. Nevertheless, the ones who
postulate such an argument never take into consideration that their very statement is self-
defeating. That is to say, it is an internally contradictory statement. This is so for several reasons
but I will only elucidate three. First, taxes and charity are two distinctly different and mutually
exclusive terms that mean the opposite. Second, charity cannot be claimed by anyone who
proposes to make use of a third party’s resources to support a program to benefit a group that the
first party determines to have need. Third, the tax deprives the taxpayer of the opportunity to be
charitable with his or her own resources and increases a further dependence on the government
in this deprivation of the taxpayer’s resources.

Charity and taxes are two mutually exclusive terms that connote two opposing definitions.
Charity is a voluntary action taken by the person who is giving the contribution to the receiver.
Conversely, taxes are compulsory and carry severe consequences for the one who attempts to
avoid payment. Therefore, the one who postulates the argument that anyone who opposes the tax
is not being generous is introducing a third term, which is a formal fallacy. Taxes and
government expenditures are not and have never been charity. While most people will introduce
the harm that will befall the recipient who will be deprived of the services they are committing
another fallacy. This fallacy is formally known as the fallacy of the appeal to emotions. That is to
say, that this will happen because of that and it will be bad or good; therefore, the argument is
true. This is assuming that the program is the only way that the recipient has or has avail to in
meeting the need. It also ignores the effects on the taxpayers that are harmed by the tax because
they are deprived by force of the resources that they have sacrificed to earn. We will never be
able to calculate the opportunity cost that is lost because of the tax; nevertheless, there is a cost.
In conclusion to this first point, a tax can never be equated as charity because by definition these
two terms are contradictory. Therefore, a person can oppose them and maintain his or her
reputation whether the person is generous or a miser is irrelevant.

One who claims charity by proposing a program that extorts money from one individual to
benefit another individual makes themselves guilty of stealing. One cannot espouse charity for an
act that deprives an individual of their property. Since, by definition, charity is a voluntary action
of generosity one cannot perform an act of charity at the forced expense of someone else. The act
of the use of force to deprive an individual, or group of individuals, of their property is by
definition stealing. Nevertheless, let us consult to be on the safe side:

Steal – To take (the property of another or others) without permission or right, esp. secretly or by

I will ask the reader to refer back to the Tenth Amendment of the Constitution when it pertains to
whether the Federal Government has the “right” to deprive one individual merely to give it to
another. Whether the reader affirms or denies the premise of whether the government has the
“right” to tax the populace in this fashion in no way invalidates the premise that one cannot
claim it to be a charitable act. Again, taxes are an act of force depriving the taxpayer of their
resources and are not a voluntary act of generosity. Especially, in regards to funding a
politician’s passion to “help” a specified group that the taxpayer may or may not approve or

Since the taxpayer is deprived of their resources throughout their career they are placed, or can
be placed, in a position of further dependence on the government. This is so because the
resources that are being taken from them could be invested in their own personal retirement and
medical benefit program through the private sector. Some have put forth the argument that one
could not provide the level of services for themselves that the government can provide. If that
statement is true then it validates the very premise of this essay. That is, the U.S. government has
devised a program that cannot, based on the aforementioned argument, be supported with the
original funds paid in. This makes the act even more criminal as this would amount to a Ponzi
scheme: see the following link, . This may seem a
harsh accusation prima facie but upon further investigation it may prove not to be harsh enough.
As the government forces more and higher taxes to fund their programs the number of people
who will become dependent will only increase, as they will have less of their own resources to
provide for their own retirement and benefits. This fostering of government dependence, by the
government, flies in the face of some of the founding principles of independence and

In conclusion, I am not opposed to helping the poor and destitute in our country. The question
pertains to methodology and not ideology. That is to say, how should those who have been
blessed to live in this great nation help the needy? I challenge those who support the government
form of “charity” and ask them, have they made it personal? What I mean by personal is whether
they have dedicated their own resources to helping the poor. When it comes to making it
personal I will challenge others to make it so by providing meals for those who are hungry with
their own money in a direct contact with the one they are feeding. I challenge people to open up
their own homes to those who have to sleep in the cold or who are without their own place to
stay. Spend the time in helping others who have fallen behind in their education to pass their
GED, or further their education so that they may obtain gainful employment. Sacrifice your own
time and resources as my wife and I have. We made charity what it is supposed to be – personal.
This is not the role of government to do; it is the citizens of this country’s responsibility. It is not
the majority’s role to force others to do what is right. It is the responsibility of those who know
generosity to teach it to others but it can never be accomplished by force; for that would
undermine and invalidate the very definition of charity.