One of the reasons Michael Barone has long been one of my favorite columnists is his long study of American history and deep understanding of our political and social traditions.Â In his blog post, Obama’s Threat to Charities and Universities: His Budget and Taxes, he quotes Tocqueville to show how far back goes the American tradition of voluntarism.
Barone fears that by reducing the value of the charitable deduction, Obama’s budget threatens volunary associations:
This is an attempt to channel money away from voluntary associations and direct it to the state. Some of that money, in turn, would be directed to public employee unions, and much if not most of that would be directed to the Democratic Party. It would be interesting to know what White House counselor and former President of Harvard University Lawrence Summers thinks of this.
It seems the president wants to centralize power in Washington and siphon some of the fruits of that control to various interest groups which support the Democratic Party. This is part and parcel of the liberal (in the current understanding of the term) vision of government as the solution to all too many of our problems.
That vision, however, is at odds with the American tradition. As Barone so wisely note, “One of the strengths of American society is that we do not rely solely on the government to address social problems.”
If it’s by Barone, it goes without saying: read the whole thing.