One of the things you notice when you go out in your daily life in the US is that people are always asking you for money. I don’t mean just the homeless and the Salvation Army, but now it’s kids asking for their band or swimming programs, their teachers for school supplies, people at your door for the environment, your various schools for the endowment, churches for their various socio-religious programs, all kinds of people for all kinds of disaster survivors and a million other things — today at the drugstore they wanted me to give a "penny and up" for diabetes research. And why is this — simple — THE GOVERNMENT IS NO LONGER DOING ITS JOB! It’s so easy and politically expedient to be against taxes but — hello! — they pay for services that people need. Sorry, but taxes are the fairest and most efficient way to raise money for the public good, and handouts — the charities so beloved of Bush types — are probably the worst. Me giving five dollars for whatever isn’t the same as Bush giving five dollars, because he’s got a million times more to give but the handout system makes that seem fair. It’s also so much easier to shaft unpopular people — prisoners and the poor — who don’t have economic or political clout (pretty much the same thing these days). Nobody’s going to donate to make prison conditions less obscenely overcrowded, but when tax cuts make for budget cuts the weak and powerless are the first thrown over the side of the yacht the rich can now afford. We’re no longer funding our schools adequately, we’re letting the infrastructure rot, and the health care system bankrupts both individuals and corporations (but thank god one of Bush’s great triumphs is to make those bankrupts suffer more). It’s the usual total materialism and short sighted need for instant gratification that characterizes contemporary life. With the "please donate" system the good people, the people with consciences end up paying more while the jerks can hoard more money. Let’s own up to it — the "ownership" society is a crock and taxes, as every government has known for all of history are not inherently evil. Making the other guy take care of your fellow man is.