Thursday, October 20, 2005

Wealthy Scrooges Stiff Charities

It's not too surprising. My husband used to deliver pizzas, and said the wealthier and bigger the house, the more likely he was to get a very small or even no tip. I understand that is a common complaint amongst pizzer delivery people. That's partly why many wealthy people are wealthy; they will often screw over other people even in small ways for their own benefit.

However, the wealthy are paying a higher percentage of their income in taxes, which helps make up for the shortfall in charitable giving. If not for progressive taxation, there would be a greater need for charity, yet I doubt most of the wealthy would chip in any more.

Which is why this meme about high tax burdens and useless government has got to be countered. There was a time when the tax burden was very low. At that time, a whole lot of people also lived in dark cold hovels on muddy "streets" with no communication with the rest of the world. There is this idea that government is too inefficient, corrupt, and wasteful, while private contractors would provide services cheaper and better. There's just as much, if not more, corruption and waste in private contracting as in public. The real problem is in places like Jacksonville, FL, where there is a marriage between corrupt government and corrupt private contracting -- and I think quite literally a marriage, as in "we'll give that building contract to my sister's husband."

Read Shirah's series at Unbossed about public vs. private services, which goes a long way to debunking this myth. It's in several parts: Part 1, Part 2, Part 3, Part 4. They're not that long.

The series lays out the historical reasons for using government for certain roles, the difference between public and private, accountability, and -- what I find most chilling -- lack of accountability in the private sector which disguises itself as public
Private companies are not only desiging static information pages, but also web pages the public must use for mandatory reporting. Nothing about the page reveals that private information is being given to anyone but the government.

This leaves the public with no information about who is providing the services. If a private contractor revealed the private information it had collected, an injured member of the public would have limited recourse, as a practical matter. Not only would the citizen lack the information necessary to hold that wrongdoer accountable, it would appear that the government caused the injury.

As in most things, I think we will find the solution lies in finding a balance between private and public services, and making both more efficient and accountable, which necessitates government involvement, and the taxes to pay for it.

Progressive Women's Blog Ring
Join | List | Previous | Next | Random | Previous 5 | Next 5 | Skip Previous | Skip Next