Why would anyone think that government involvement would improve volunteerism? On the Senate floor, Sen. Jim DeMint, South Carolina Republican, warned: “Our history shows us when government gets involved, it tends to take something that is working and make it not work nearly as well. Civil society works because it is everything government is not. It is small, it is personal, it is responsive, it is accountable.”
Mr. Obama early on proposed cutting tax deductions for private charity for the wealthiest givers. Harvard economics professor Martin Feldstein warned in 2009 that this could severely hurt nonprofits: “President Obama’s proposal to limit the tax deductibility of charitable contributions would effectively transfer more than $7 billion a year from the nation’s charitable institutions to the federal government. In effect, the change would be a tax on the charities, reducing their receipts by a dollar for every dollar of extra revenue the government collects.”
Taken together, a massive increase in government aid to paid “volunteers” and reducing incentives for charitable giving are a double-barreled shotgun aimed at the private sector.
Americans need to stand by faith-based charities whose own government is creating competition for volunteers. They also need to let their elected representatives know that higher taxes and greedy government assaults on private charities will not be tolerated.
Robert Knight is senior fellow for the American Civil Rights Union and a columnist for The Washington Times.