I don’t want to do that, because I think we should encourage people to give. But the basic problem is that too many ‘charities’ are political organizations masquerading as do-gooder entities. And tax deductions always favor the rich over the rest of us, so we need to equalize it for the rest of us. Time was, many charities were uncontroversial. Building a new ball field for the local school. Your local food bank. The Girl Scouts.
Wait? What? You’re kidding (boldface mine):
…the Girl Scouts of the USA are now facing their highest-level challenge yet: An official inquiry by the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops.
At issue are concerns about program materials that some Catholics find offensive, as well as assertions that the Scouts associate with other groups espousing stances that conflict with church teaching. The Scouts, who have numerous parish-sponsored troops, deny many of the claims and defend their alliances….
“I know we’re a big part of the culture wars,” said the Girl Scouts’ spokeswoman, Michelle Tompkins. “People use our good name to advance their own agenda.”
“For us, there’s an overarching sadness to it,” Tompkins added. “We’re just trying to further girls’ leadership.”
…However, McCarty expressed doubt that the Girl Scouts’ most vehement critics would be satisfied regardless of what steps are taken.
“It’s easier to step back and throw verbal bombs,” he said. “It takes a lot more energy to work for change.”
Mary Rice Hasson, a visiting fellow in Catholic studies at the Ethics and Public Policy Center, a conservative think tank in Washington, accuses McCarty of “whitewashing” Girl Scout programs and policies that struck some Catholics as counter to church teaching.
…”A collision course is probably a good description of where things are headed,” she said. “The leadership of the Girl Scouts is reflexively liberal. Their board is dominated by people whose views are antithetical to the teachings of the Catholic Church.”
Yes, liberal versus Catholic. Someone needs to tell Hasson you’re supposed to use code words, and not be so blunt. Meanwhile, the Church is also opposing extending the statute of limitations for kiddie rapists.
And we haven’t even touched on groups like the Heartland Institute, which is nothing more that a propaganda arm for corporations–not to mention all of the tax-deductible conservative faith tanks, including Hasson’s Ethics and Public Policy Center. Or Pete Peterson’s half-billion dollars he’s donated to promote fiscal austerity and social security privatization–from which he would profit immensely.
At the same time, churches are serving as de facto political organizing arms for conservatives. If someone gives money to a secular political group (or a union), he doesn’t get a tax deduction. But if you preach politics from the pulpit–and let’s be honest, no politician will crack down on this and remove those churches’ tax exemptions–you can take the deduction.
If people want to give money to these organizations, fine. It’s their right to do so. But we shouldn’t have to subsidize those activities. Yes, this sucks. Lots of people, including the Mad Biologist, have benefited from tax-deductible charitable giving. Plenty of charities, religious or otherwise, do deserve the help. But right now, it’s doing more harm than good. Progressive organizations will always be outgunned under this regime. And it’s unfair to those who aren’t rich enough to take deductions on their taxes, regardless of political bent, to subsidize the predilections of the wealthy.
End the charitable tax deduction and the tax exemption for religious organizations.