January 1st, 2005

rain

(no subject)

In the wake of the recent tsunami, a lot of people seem to be saying that governments should be throwing more money at disaster relief funds. I say no they shouldn't. Don't get me wrong, disaster relief funds are all very nice, and it's a delightful humanitarian thing to do, but that's not the government's job. The government's job is to represent the will of its people. If people want to be humanitarian and help out disaster victims in another country, they can and do. I'm all for the government facilitating that - if they set up a nice easy way for the country's people to put tax-deductible donations into a fund with low overheads, did good disaster-relief stuff with that fund, and encouraged the people to donate, that'd be cool.

But that's not what people are saying governments should do. They're saying that their government should take a hunk of everyone's money, and decide to help out another country with it. Do you think the people would be happy if the government said "hey guys, we're increasing tax by 1% this year to help out this other country"? I don't think they would. So would taking 1% off the top of the existing taxes for the same purpose be better? No, it would be the same thing. "Hey guys, you know that money you gave us so your kids could go to a good school and your roads would be in good repair and you wouldn't get mugged? Well we're spending it on building some stuff in some other country! Ha ha! Fuck you!"

If some percentage of taxes is already earmarked for foreign aid, that's fine, the citizens are paying taxes knowing (if they do their research) that that's one of the things they're paying for. Sure, they probably hate that the government is taxing them so much and have no choice but to pay because going to another country isn't actually a feasible option, so it's essentially extortion for a cause, but ... wait, where was I going with that?