Better Than To Receive?

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Joe Doakes from Como Park emails:

Got this in the mail. Not going. Annoying.

“Give back.” To whom, the beneficiaries of this fundraiser? The county bar association and the local Legal Aid office? The phrase ‘give back’ implies I once received something of value from them, for which I did not pay on the spot. The phrase ‘give back’ implies an obligation, a debt. Searching my memory (insert Star Trek computer voice: “Working. Working.”). Nope, can’t think of anything either of them ever gave me for free. Don’t see that I have any obligation to give either of them anything in return.

“Pay it Forward.” Cute movie, silly slogan, worse reasoning. Somebody once did something nice for me, so that burdens me with an obligation to give money to someone else. And lucky for me, they’ve pre-selected the people I’ll be paying, all good Liberal Democrats, no doubt. At $85 a plate, plus having to sit through do-gooders giving each other feel-good awards to signal their virtue? I don’t think so. If that’s the cost of people doing nice things for me, stop doing nice things for me, I can’t afford it.

This is not an appeal for charity, it’s shaming. I’ve been shamed enough. I get it every day. I’m an old White male. We’re the bane of society. Racists. Sexists. Rapists. We didn’t build anything, we never accomplished anything, we’re oppressors who stole our ill-gotten gains and don’t deserve to keep them. So Give Back the money or Pay it Forward to our pet programs so we can work to further shame old White men.

You know what? That argument doesn’t motivate me to give money, doesn’t inspire my generosity.

If you want me to give you money, convince me you deserve it. Offer programs I want to watch (Dr. Who on public television). Give me something I want to have (salvation, from my church). Show me you’re helping people I want to help and give me a little reward (Girl Scout cookies). Hell, stand at the stoplight in the pouring rain holding a cardboard sign to make me feel glad I’m not you. I keep a dozen ones in the center console for precisely those people. But not for Legal Aid lawyers. And not because I’ve got some fake obligation that I should be ashamed I haven’t paid.

The hardest part of establishing an entitlement is convincing those who’ll pay that you are in fact entitled to their money.

It seems MN Democrats have done a fine job of this.