CAN VOLUNTARY GIVING REPLACE GOVERNMENT MANDATES?
by Chloe Anagnos, ©2017, Tax Revolution Institute
(Mar. 27, 2017) — Oy with the poodles already! Babette ate oatmeal. I have no patience for jam hands.
If any of those statements made sense to you, congrats. You’re a Gilmore Girls superfan, just like me.
Gilmore Girls aired on the WB from 2000-2007 and followed the atypical, and sometimes enviable, mother-daughter relationship between Lorelai and Rory Gilmore. Created by Amy Sherman-Palladino, the series developed a cult-following due to the witty writing, fast dialogue, and dynamic cast of characters in fictional Stars Hollow, Connecticut.
What initially drew me into the series was how the characters interact with each other. A tiny town with only one stoplight, Stars Hollow residents know all and see all. They aren’t afraid to air their grievances at weekly town meetings, yet they celebrate together at the infamous Firelight Festival. From throwing everything from a wake for a cat, to a giant graduation party for Rory, and attempting to construct the world’s largest pizza, they share each other’s joys and sorrows.
In addition, they host some of the quirkiest fundraisers to help pay for the town’s needs.
Who could forget when Kirk victoriously ran around the gymnasium after winning the 24-hour Dance Marathon for the fifth year in a row? Or when Christopher decided to write a check to cover the costs for the Old Muddy River Bridge Knit-A-Thon in order to get the townsfolk to like him?
Their sense of community is heartwarming and begs this question: if this town can get themselves organized to figure out how to raise the funds that they need without imposing excessive government taxation, then why can’t we?
There are tens of thousands of nonprofit organizations, mutual-aid societies, and co-ops that provide this same type of support for communities large and small without draining our pocketbooks.
The shareholders of these organizations don’t earn profits, and they measure their successes by the way that they benefit others. According to Forbes, the country’s most successful nonprofits, in terms of finances, brought in billions to advance their causes in 2016.
For example, more than $3.71 billion was donated to United Way Worldwide in the 2015 fiscal year. Their impact? Due to their social and educational efforts, the teenage pregnancy rate in Milwaukee, Wisconsin fell by 56 percent. In Winston-Salem, North Carolina, high-school graduation rates increased nearly 15 percent in seven years.
Mutual-aid societies and co-ops are voluntary organizations and associations formed to provide benefits in order to relieve individuals and communities from difficulties.
Historically, these societies were founded to serve the needs of immigrants and other underserved groups who had things in common like religion, gender, values, or occupation. Unfortunately, not many of these societies are still in practice because of government regulations.
The first modern American fraternal organization was the Ancient Order of United Workmen. They provided social and financial support after the Civil War along with insurance, sickness, accident, death, and burial policies.
The benefits of voluntary giving and volunteering is that the people get to choose what organizations deserve their time and money. And with crowdfunding sites like KickStarter and GoFundMe, it’s even easier for noble causes to get their stories out through social media to inspire others to volunteer their time or give their treasure.
Isn’t it time that we, as a society, function more like Gilmore Girls‘ Stars Hollow and measure compassion by the good that we do instead of by how much we pay?