Give Back Your Tax Cut

by Nathan Harden

Two professors at Yale, along with one from Cornell, have created a website called in order to encourage Americans to donate their Bush-era tax breaks — recently extended by Obama as a result of pressure from Republicans — to a charitable cause.

You can use the website to calculate your estimated “tax cut.” (I don’t see how keeping tax rates unchanged is a tax cut, but I digress.) Then you can pledge that amount to one of several charities. The professors who created the site hope their effort will “begin to replicate good government policy, outside the government and free from the grip of obstructionists within it.”

This holiday season is a great time for giving. And I applaud anyone who chooses to donate money to charity for any reason. But I am amazed at the irony here. These liberal professors are mad about tax cuts, and are therefore trying to do good through means “outside the government.” Astonishing! This is exactly the kind of private-sector-oriented economic policy conservatives have been advocating for years.

I always find it disheartening to hear liberals equate taxes with charity. The two kinds of exchange couldn’t be more different. One is taken by force, the other is a free act of love and goodwill. When the government acts as an intermediary between the giver and the receiver, the receiver is not accountable to the human face behind the money he is receiving, and giver is robbed of the chance to exercise the virtue of charity. What should be an act of compassion is reduced to an act of compulsion.

Charity elevates us as humans. It is essential to any healthy society. But charity elevates only when it is given freely. And charity is most effective when it is administered by organizations on the ground, not by government bureaucrats.

There is a conceit behind efforts like, an assumption that those who support big taxes and big government spending are, at the end of the day, the most caring people among us. In reality, the idea that liberals are more compassionate is a myth, as is the idea that liberals give more to charity. Conservatives, on average, donate about 30 percent more to charity than liberals. This is true even though conservative-headed families make slightly less money on average.

Conservatives make less, and give more. Liberals make more, give less, and then advocate that the government take more from others. That isn’t compassion. That’s hypocrisy.