Wednesday, July 01, 2009

100% Tax Rate?

I wrote this over two years ago and I still think it makes a valid point. I am advocating for a response that will cost less per person over the years, but the person making the comments thinks I am asking for a “100%” tax rate. It must be the single worst piece I ever wrote to get such a response. I am putting it out again because I think it applies even more today. Lets see what the response is this time.

Where is the COMPASSIONATE CONSERVATISM? (June 21, 2007)
By Ed Cooper
Phillip Yancy, author of numerous books says compassion simply means, “To suffer with”. I had trouble with that definition so I looked it up and found that WordNet said the verb compassionate meant to share the suffering with another. That sounds nice if it were possible. Remember President Bush said, “I call my philosophy and approach compassionate conservatism." (White House Press Release April 30, 2002) Wonder what he meant by compassionate?
In an Op-Ed piece in the New York Times recently Verlyn Klinkenborg writing about the report released last week by the Audubon Society which said millions of birds are missing wrote, “The Audubon Society portrait of common bird species in decline is really a report on who humans are. Let me offer a proposition about Homo sapiens. We are the only species on earth capable of an ethical awareness of other species and, thus, the only species capable of happily ignoring that awareness. So far, our economic interests have proved to be completely incompatible with all but a very few forms of life. It is not that we believe that other species do not matter. It is that, historically speaking; it has not been worth believing one way or another. I do not suppose that most Americans would actively kill a whippoorwill if they had the chance. Yet in the past 40 years its number has dropped by 1.6 million.”
Yesterday I was trout fishing on Wilson Creek not far from my home in the Pisgah National Forest and I could hear the birds. They added to the sound of the rushing water of Wilson Creek, which was added to the National Wild and Scenic River System on August 18, 2000, and made the experience delightful even though I did not catch a single trout. What if all the birds were gone?
Klinkenborg seems to be concerned if we will make the right ethical decisions about the other species on this planet with us and I do too, but I spend even more time worrying about the fact we have never learned how to treat each other especially if they are different from us.
To put it bluntly I have never been like most of the rest of my fellow humans. My mental illness and the fact that I was sexually abused as a young child over a long period has made it very difficult for me to fit the normal mold. In other words, I am not what I refer to as a chronically normal person. That means school was almost impossible and I was unable to finish college. I held over 50 different jobs before founding Project Dream Again in 1988. My point here is that I am one of those folks that you would not “actively kill” if you “had the chance”, but like the whippoorwill we are dying off. As I wrote in an earlier blog Marilyn Elias writing in USA TODAY about a recent study wrote that those of us in the public system die about “25 years earlier than Americans overall.” Where is the compassionate conservatism? Maybe it all went to Iraq!
To respond to the needs of folks with mental illness means meeting them where they are. Unfortunately, lots are on the streets or in jails and prisons, others living with families struggling to get them services promised but not forthcoming, some in state hospitals or private ones and others hiding because of the stigma of letting anyone know they are ill.
How do you reach out? By embracing them with compassion if you use the true meaning of the word. A true compassionate commitment to the mentally ill and their families would save government in the long term. It really is less expensive to treat people as if they are fully human than to lock them up in state hospitals or jails and prisons. Why can’t we learn? We ask the wrong people for advice.
Try this! Ask consumers, family members and frontline workers what is needed. Let them be the experts. Embrace a concept of recovery based on the real meaning of compassion. You will then find that “in the community” begins to mean something.

Under Comments I found this Reply: “Government cannot possibly solve every social problem that exists nor should they attempt such an impossible task. If you believe the government needs to take more money from people in order to pay for such programs than how much do you believe your taxes should be increased? Why is the cause of the mentally ill more important than the plight of the homeless, widows, orphans, storm victims, violent crime victims, uninsured or any other group of people who have just as much need. In order to provide for every group of "victims" to their satisfaction the federal government would have to impose a 100% tax rate and there would still not be enough money. Besides the shear impossiblity of providing for every need in existence the federal government does a horrible job of managing anything. While there are many excellent charities that keep administrative costs between 10-20%, it is not unusal for government programs to have admin costs in the 60-70% range. As individuals/Christians we do have a personal responsibility to assist those in need on a voluntary basis.
by Tony Jul 4, 2007 2:56 pm”

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