Thursday, March 6, 2008

TFT: tax rebate

I found something I wanted to share a couple of weeks ago that I thought was worth some thought on a Thursday :)

I was reading the blog of the pastor of the church that we went to up in MI and he had a copy of this email to share. It's from a student named Greg Coates and his reflection on the upcoming tax rebate this country is anticipating...

“If our politicians and newspapers are telling the truth, most of us will be getting a $600 check in the mail come late May. For those of us who pay our taxes and make between 3 and 75 grand per year, the check is practically on its way. And our patriotic duty is, of course, to go out and blow it on stuff… most of us on stuff we don’t need or even know that we want yet. And of course everyone loves this idea. How could you be against it? For the first time in what seems like years, the Republicans and Democrats actually came together. I mean, how could you be opposed to Christmas in June?

But I’m not too keen on it.

I (for one) have had about enough of this nonsense about doing your “patriotic duty” by spending money on yourself. What kind of a narcissistic culture praises such uninhibited materialism?

Has anyone stopped to think what the United States of America (aka God’s Greatest Gift to Mankind since Jesus) could do with $150 billion? I mean… do we really even care that while the government is sending out checks so that we can splurge on a new Ipod, there are people in the world who can’t seem to scrounge up a bowl of rice?

According to Bread for the World, 850 million people on earth go hungry each day. 11 million children die annually from malnourishment. And although we’ve all heard such figures before, it seems like there is nothing we can do.

So I have a question. How much money do you think it would take to feed the entire world for one year? Assuming that we kept our current levels of giving the same, how much more money would be required of us, the “Christian Nation,” to make sure that food was provided for every single mouth on earth for the rest of 2008 and into 2009? Keep in mind that our government is giving us $150 billion for our new Ipods.

Answer: $13 billion. Yep. If our country wanted to, it could eliminate world hunger this year simply by reducing this “economic stimulus package” from $150 billion to $137 billion. So if those wonderfully unified Republicans and Democrats had decided to give me a check of $548 instead of $600, they could have thrown in the elimination of world hunger on the side. But no. I live in a land that doesn’t give a care.

(Oh, and, by the way, many economists agree that an economic stimulus package like the one being given to us this year will do “little” or “no” good for the overall American economy. Don’t take my word for it… I heard it tonight from David Brooks of the New York Times).

Most of our country will delightfully open their mail some May morning and find that the government has given them a $600 shopping spree. I, for one, refuse to do it. I serve a different God. I’m going to proudly and boldly do my very unpatriotic duty and immediately dump the cash overseas where it belongs.

Ha! Imagine. If only 10% of the recipients of these rebates donated their money to or similar organizations, we’d feed every hungry person on earth. I’d love to see the look on our politicians faces if that happened. In fact, I’d pay $600 just to see it.”

Honestly, I had many of the same thoughts when I first heard about this extra rebate. I mean, yes, we can all use the money; I'd be lying if I said I hadn't thought of a million little things I could do with that money. It also seemed easy to think of other things the government could do with that money. Really... are we going to "better" our own country by frivolously spending that? Or am I even going to "better" myself by using it to pay off debt? (eta: I'm not saying that debt is not a valid and good intent for this money, because it surely is) Aren't there better ways that big chunk of money can be spent? Aren't there better ways I can spend my share -or even a portion of my share- of it rather than "stimulating our economy"? What about other countries that are so much less fortunate than ours? What about people in our own country that have nothing?
And it's crazy what a difference just $52 dollars would make.

I'd love to hear your thoughts on his thoughts.

And here are some other Thoughts for Thursday bloggers this week:
Heather on Nutrition
Jessica on Connecting
Jenny on Weight Loss
Kristi on Blogging and Family


jessica said...

this is a very deep thought for thursday! wow, i didn't think of the rebate in those terms. i'll need to read it again when i have more time. thanks for posting this!

Erin said...

I went to school with Greg (or at least with A Greg Coates), and he's absolutely right. It makes me re-think my desire to re-landscape my backyard. Maybe instead, I'll give every last penny of it to a hunger organization.

Thanks for sharing this. I love your TFT posts.

jenny said...

great post. why don't politicans think this way?

i have been thinking a lot lately about donations. what holds most of us back from letting go of some of our money to certain causes? i'm not sure.

i honestly don't know what i'm going to do with that extra refund. our main refund is going to paying off debt and i would like to do the same with the other one - but we'll see.

Kyle Luke said...

I've been at that church for 8 years . . . it's funny I never knew you. Here's a link to the post I wrote about that same article. The comments were interesting.

Kyle Luke said...

Here's the actual link to that post.

Annie Schilperoort Photography said...

I'll try to be brief - I don't have much time, but I want to respond in case I don't get back here later today. Interesting blog...personally, I don't like the idea of anyone saying we all need to choose to put the money _____. We all have different areas we could use the money or that God may direct us to use our money. I think it is much more a matter of living intentionally in ALL areas (NOT consuming tons at Christmas, other holidays, buying second hand, eating local, supporting local businesses/organizations, etc. etc. however you feel lead) than just picking this gov kickback to get all riled up about (and I truly don't mean you or the blog author, just saying in general what we do with this money needs to fit in with a person's world view to, for example, consume less, etc). You mentioned getting out of debt as a way to "better yourself" may not be the best way to spend the $. Staying in debt longer doesn't really make sense to me long term because the interest, etc. you are paying out over time adds up a lot faster and produces a larger "waste" of money/your resources over time. (Sorry if I'm not saying this clearly, but if we look at a longer period of time, being debt free will allow you to give more over time than just the $600 in one month, if you use the extra $ to relieve debt now, you will be able to give more away later to people/organizations you care about. Do you know what I mean? Of course this mentality goes back to using a big picture world view to determine not only what you do with this gov $, but also all your income (whereever it may come from). Okay, sorry that was so long-winded and could've probably been more concise if I wasn't in such a hurry! Off to p/u Cade from preschool! Have a great day Heather!

Heather S. said...

First - I actually posted a thought for Thursday!! Haven't done that for a while

Second - Kevin and I were discussing this whole rebate thing and he was saying that by handing out this tax refund - it actually puts the country in more debt. I also agree with Annie about getting out of debt. Our pastor did a sermon on this topic in the beginning of January. If we are in debt and not aggressively paying down our debt that we are making ourselves slaves to whomever we owe the money. I don't think God has an issue with loans, but we need to be good stewards with our money, which means not letting interest add up and paying excess money that isn't necessary. I'm not saying that we shouldn't give of our rebate, but shouldn't we be giving all year round? And then maybe give a little extra when we can.
My parents have been incredible examples to me in this area. They give a lot of money (all year round) to a number of different organizations and then when something extra comes in, they may use it to buy something that they need or have been putting off until they had the cash to buy it.
Okay, I feel like this is one big confusing paragraph. Hope it makes sense to someone:)

heather said...

Since I posted this rather quickly this morning and didn't say much myself, I wanted to add another comment too...
For me, what it boils down to is this:
If you look past what this student was saying about what HE would like to see happen, for me in the end it wasn't about what we or the government does with this money as a whole, but rather put a much needed focus on how we spend and manage and help others with ALL of our resources.

AND it was shocking to me how little it actually takes to make a difference... if there are enough people doing it. That if we were all doing our part there honestly would not be hungry people in any country of this world. Amazing. And convicting.

Michelle Leigh said...

Hmmm, I guess I really don't know how to respond to this. It surprises me how it really doesn't take a lot to make a difference. However, as a family, we give an awful lot to several causes throughout the year, so whether we get this money or not, it doesn't affect how much we give.

That being said, I would love to see this theory put to work. It would be amazing if we could do this for the world, but just reading that isn't enough proof that it's really enough, KWIM? I guess I just need concrete proof of things like this before I can actually agree or disagree. Great topic though, I've never thought in those terms before. Thanks for sharing!

Robyn said...

I know every little bit helps, and maybe, I could give 52 dollars. I kind of think the whole rebate thing doesn't make sense, I know some people will go blow it, I just know that mine will have to pay for my property taxes. But is it really going to help the economy?

jessica said...

I cannot get a grip on the concept of a nation that is struggling economically right now giving everyone money to spend. It is ridiculous. If you live in America and you don't have enough money to spend on "stuff" we're going to increase our national debt so you can spend some more. The whole idea is foolish to me.

jessica said...

berke, that is.

Kristi @ Mi Vida Ocupada said...

There is so much we could do with that money to better things. Me...I probably WILL buy something for myself, or at least pay it toward bills.

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