Tax or Give?


“The only difference between death and taxes is that death doesn’t get worse every time Congress meets.” I’m surprised funny man Will Rogers said that. After all, I’m always delighted with everything my taxes pay for. And at such great bargain prices, too.

I celebrated Tax Day last month, didn’t you? It was so much fun.

Anybody who agrees with that probably needs to ask for stronger medication and a plane ticket back to reality. Yet, there is some truth to it. Our nation is one of the most free, prosperous, and powerful on Earth, but we are so used to it we don’t even notice that our taxes actually do us a lot of good.

Unfortunately, we feel coerced to pay up. We do have a say in how taxes are used, but our say is pretty remote. A hundred layers of politics and special interests seem to get in the way.

Recently, I met some folks from one of the countries where people pay much higher taxes than we do. They bragged that their nation takes care of them from cradle to grave – free medical care, free higher education, and much more. Taxes pay the bills.

But neither that system nor ours offers a real, hands-on choice about how taxes are spent. Your tax return did not have a dotted line marked:

“I want some of my taxes to pay for (fill in the blank) ___________.”

Those nice folks I met who felt so well cared for, however, were mystified by our not-for-profit business sector and our support for charities. They said, “That’s what taxes are for, no?”

No! We prefer personal discretion over our spending. I think most of us want to make our own choices about how to spend most of our money. We want to support activities we value most and not support others we value less. Most of all, we hate to be forced to spend our hard-earned money on activities we actually disapprove of. It seems a basic right.

That’s why this week your Jamestown Gazette is delighted to help publicize Give Big CHG, a way to support, befriend, and contribute to exactly the causes and missions we value the most in our community. More than 90 local not-for-profit organizations have banded together under the sponsorship of the Chautauqua Region Community Foundation to give each of us a change to do some good exactly where we want to.

In just 24 hours on June 13, every one of those local non-profits will have a chance to roll out their missions for us to see online, tell us what they have accomplished for our community, and offer us an opportunity to join in their good work – at our discretion.

A generous spirit is a free spirit. It does not need or tolerate coercion. Please take some time next Thursday to discover the generous spirits who serve our community simply for the joy of it, for the pleasure of making our community safer, better educated, more helpful for those in need, and sometimes just a lot more fun.

Find you favorites and chip in as you can. You’ll probably also discover some amazing people and organizations you never knew existed, some you’d love to join, and a few you want to support.

Giving to a non-profit or a charity is not a taxing experience. It can be most rewarding, from cradle to grave and in between.

And while we’re talking about free community services, thank you for supporting the local advertisers that support the Jamestown Gazette. They are the reason your copy of The People’s Paper is always fee to you.

Enjoy the read.

Walt Pickut

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Walt Pickut
Walt Pickut’s writing career began with publishing medical research in1971 while working at the Jersey City Medical Center and the NYU Hospital and School of Medicine. Walt holds board registries in respiratory care and sleep technology as well as bachelor's degrees in biology and communication, and a master's degrees in physiology from Fairleigh-Dickinson University in New Jersey, with additional graduate work in mass communication completed at SUNY Amherst. He currently teaches Presentational Speaking in the Houghton College PACE program at JCC and holds memberships in the Society of Professional Journalists and the American Society of Business Publication Editors. He lives in Jamestown with his wife Nancy, an MSW social worker, and has three children: Dr. Cait Lamberton in Pittsburgh, Bill Pickut, a marketing executive in Chicago, and Rev. Matt Pickut in Plymouth, IN.