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Is Jay-Z rethinking this whole 'big government' thing?

Last week, rapper Jay-Z said that he would love to pay more taxes – on one condition:

“Me, personally, I wouldn’t mind paying more taxes if it went to the things that really mattered, if it went to education, people in poverty,” Jay-Z said in an interview with CNNMoney Thursday. “If it went to the right things, you know, I wouldn’t mind.”

So what he’s saying is, he would like to be able to contribute some more of his money to helping people who are in need.  But he thinks there should be a system that allows him to choose where his money goes to make sure that it is only given to programs that he actually supports.

Hmmm.  That sounds an awful lot like… private charity!  Hey… he might be on to something here.

Unfortunately, for nearly 100 years Americans have allowed the federal government to get involved in areas of life that are much better served by private charities.  And as Jay-Z seems to be learning here, any time that people allow the government to do something for them that they can do for themselves, they lose freedom.

When government gets involved in solving social problems, it forces Americans to give money to programs that they believe are immoral, unnecessary, or that are completely ineffective.  As Jay-Z’s comments illustrate, even if he does pay more in taxes a lot of that money will get wasted or go to programs that he doesn’t support.

Government involvement in areas like education and poverty reduction also takes away virtually any influence individuals can have over how those programs operate.  It basically takes an act of Congress to create any real change.  That’s not something just any American can make happen.  After all, how long have we been trying to reform our education system?

Getting the government out of the charity business accomplishes two things:

  1. It dries up the funding for programs that are either completely failing to get the results they were created to get or wasting ridiculous amounts of money (or both).  Once a government program has been created it’s nearly impossible to cut its funding.  When these programs have to rely on private funding, they will be forced to get results or clear the way for another group that can get the job done.
  2. It gives individuals control over the money that would otherwise be sent to the government and allocated on their behalf.  That gives them more freedom to decide which charities they want to support and how much they feel they should contribute.

Another nice added benefit to relying on private charities: no one has to listen to these blowhard billionaires and millionaires going on tv to complain about wanting to pay more in taxes.  If they feel the need to contribute more to society, they can just cut a check to whatever charity they feel is worthy of their support.  But then again… they could do that now if they were serious about wanting to make a difference.

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