There are phrases and ideas that are often accepted without question. The notion that people need to ‘give back to society’ is uttered by many people who have been successful. Athletes and actors have often expressed this idea when establishing some charity or fund that helps the communities they grew up in.
While giving to charity or setting up an organization that helps people is a noble cause, there is an inherent illogic and dangerous precedent in the phrase ‘giving back to the community’. First, the idea assumes that the community has given people something to begin with. Second, it assumes that people have a right to expect something from the community.
Barack Obama seems to be a firm believer in the ‘giving back’ idea. At various times he has spoken about people who have done well in the United States:
“They want to give back to the country that’s done so much for them. Washington just hasn’t asked them to.”
In contradiction to the previous quote, he also said about the ‘rich’:
"Their basic view is that no matter how successful I am, no matter how much I have taken from this country… Their notion is despite the fact that I have benefited from all of these investments… that somehow I have no obligation to people who are less fortunate than me. And I have no real obligation to future generations to make sure they have a better future.”
So in one comment, rich people want to give more and in the other comment he presents the rich as a bunch of selfish people who want to keep all their money. Whatever Obama actually believes about the things the rich want to do with their money, he clearly believes that it is their obligation to give more of it away to government. He said:
“This is not because we begrudge those who’ve done well – we rightly celebrate their success. Rather, it is a basic reflection of our belief that those who have benefitted most from our way of life can afford to give a bit more back. “
The idea of ‘giving back’ is a diversion. It betrays the way of thinking of people on the left as well as on people who have been successful and who feel guilty about their success. With the left it is a matter of retribution and payback while with the successful, it is a matter of guilt, which presupposes that their success is somehow immoral.
While giving to charities is a noble idea and should be encouraged, giving BACK is an abomination. The ‘community’ did not create the success of Bill Gates or Steve Jobs. The ‘community’ did not make Michael Jordan a great basketball player. It is wonderful of Bill Gates, Steve Jobs or Michael Jordan to give their money to causes that they believe in. It is criminal if they are forced to give money to this fictitious entity called ‘community’.
Community is nothing but a euphemism for government. The whole idea of our constitutional republic is limited government. All the rights are placed in the hands of individual people. The government rules by the consent of those people. It can’t give people anything because it has nothing to give. All it can do is to take from some to give to others. The prosperity of the United States was created by individuals, not government.
Bill Gates may owe his parents and he may owe friends who inspired him. Most of all, he should feel pride in himself. He has created a company that provides millions of new jobs. He has created powerful products that people can obtain at reasonable prices that make them more productive. If anything, it is the community that owes Bill Gates, not the other way around.
‘Giving back’ is a better way of saying that paying more taxes is patriotic. Joe Biden said that rich Americans would gladly pay more:
“It’s time to be patriotic … time to jump in, time to be part of the deal, time to help get America out of the rut.”
Biden could not be more wrong. Paying more taxes to is like giving $20 to a kid to buy milk, eggs and orange juice. After he comes back saying that he spent the $20 on video games you give him another $20. This time he comes back saying that he went to McDonalds. So you give him another $20 and he comes back and says he went to the movies. When do you stop giving him $20?
It is not patriotic to pay more taxes and it is not patriotic to give money to a government that has proven time and again that it doesn’t know what to do with that money when it has it. All the talk about having the rich pay their ‘fair share’ presupposes that if the government had that money it would use it in a more beneficial way.
Barack Obama said about Paul Ryan’s budget plan:
“There’s nothing serious about a plan that claims to reduce the deficit by spending a trillion dollars on tax cuts for millionaires and billionaires. There’s nothing courageous about asking for sacrifice from those who can least afford it and don’t have any clout on Capitol Hill. “
There is so much that is misleading about this statement. First of all, conservatives are not asking anyone, rich or poor to sacrifice. Obama and the left are so used to their own rhetoric that they can’t seem to think or speak without these toxic ideas seeping in to everything they say and do. If money is spent on things that are not achieving results, it is not a sacrifice to stop spending money on those things, it is common sense.
It is beneficial to everyone, rich and poor alike, to stop wasting money on union subsidies and tax breaks for unions that do not even use those tax breaks for the benefit of their own members. It is beneficial to stop spending so much money on an education system that is clearly broken. It is beneficial to look at Medicare and social security and our entire safety net system and deal with the realities of the financial mess they are in.
Another misleading idea of Obama’s statement (more of an outright lie) is the claim of a tax cut for millionaires. Republicans are proposing to keep the same rate that has been in effect for the last ten years -- that is clearly not a cut. But more important is the idea of ‘sacrifice’ and ‘giving back’. It is ironic that Obama wants to eliminate the tax cut for charitable giving. Does he really want to encourage people to ‘give back’ or does he want to have a government that has more control over the people? The idea of ‘giving back’ seems to only get its moral cache if it is forced upon individuals by an intrusive government.
Ayn Rand once asked “in a society where everybody sacrifices, who wins?” She said "The word that has destroyed you is 'sacrifice'...If you wish to save the last of your dignity, do not call your best actions a 'sacrifice': that term brands you as immoral.” And she also said “Sacrifice” is the surrender of a greater value for the sake of a lesser one or of a nonvalue. Thus, altruism gauges a man’s virtue by the degree to which he surrenders, renounces or betrays his values.”
Obama said: “The change we seek has always required great struggle and great sacrifice. And so this is a battle in our own hearts and minds about what kind of country we want and how hard we’re willing to work for it.” And he said “This is who we are. This is the America I know. We don’t have to choose between a future of spiraling debt and one where we forfeit investments in our people and our country. To meet our fiscal challenge, we will need to make reforms. We will all need to make sacrifices. But we do not have to sacrifice the America we believe in. And as long as I’m President, we won’t.
Exactly what America does Barack Obama believe in? Is it one where the people are helpless and need his help to survive? Americans sacrifice every day. They crowd into trains at 5:30 in the morning after 4 hours of sleep in order to give their kids a better life. They don’t need lectures from Barack Obama on sacrificing. Forcing people to spend money on ideas that are inimical to the ideas of the constitution and freedom is not a sacrifice, it is theft.