It’s no secret that New Yorkers are a different breed than most Americans. Incapable of handling their own soda consumption, firearms, or even whether or not they can put ice cream cones in their pocket without putting some sort of law into place, they are generally a helpless bunch who rely on a paternalistic government to run their lives. Even the millionaires are now getting in on the action, demanding that the government take more of their money.
That’s the idea behind the #raiseourtaxes movement, which is made up of about 40 rich folks in the state. They are asking Governor Andrew Cuomo to increase their income tax levels in order to aid the impoverished in the Empire State. Why they don’t simply give the money directly to charities or, you know, write a check to the government (they won’t turn down voluntary taxation) is the fundamental question here.
It seems that the group, which includes such luminaries as Abigail Disney, Steven C. Rockefeller, and a whole bunch of other people who inherited their money and fame from more talented relatives, is incapable of giving money out of charity and must ask for permission first. To be sure, their intentions are good (who doesn’t want to help those in need?), but their methodology is part of one of the major problems in the United States today: Lack of independent thinking.
While the discussion over whether raising the taxes in what is already the highest taxed state in the union is a one that may have good points on either side, it’s really besides the point here. When a group of people flatly doesn’t even consider giving voluntarily, but would rather ask their government make it mandatory, it shows a complete unwillingness to even consider alternatives besides government.
To be sure, there is some debate over whether charities are more effective than government at aiding the needy. On the one hand, charities are reliant on the goodwill of people giving away their own money, but they also have much more flexibility than many government programs as they can have looser rules about who qualifies. On the other hand, government aid can be more organized and able to reach a greater number of people — as well as to vet people more thoroughly to ensure that their is less abuse of the program. In reality, both are necessary to aid the less fortunate among us.
These millionaires do not seem to even consider that charities exist, however, as it never even seems to have occurred to them to seek one (or more) out. There are nearly 100,000 operating today just in the state of New York, so it’s not like there is a shortage or anything. And if that was too difficult for them (let’s face it, people born into money don’t often have to work very hard), they could still simply donate their money to the government. In other words, they can already pay the higher taxes they want to pay without force of law.
So by all means, give money to charity, pay more money in taxes, volunteer, whatever it takes to help the needy. Just don’t waste your time asking for permission from the government or, even worse, asking them to force you and your neighbors to do it. But it’s probably easier to do so when you’re playing with other people’s money, even if that money is in your possession via the luck of being born with a certain name.