I’m a little angry that private donations soared when DT announced he would cut Meals on Wheels. It’s not because I don’t love stories of Americans opening their hearts. It’s because we shouldn’t have to.
Our greatest presidents (not self-proclaimed greatest, BTW) worked in the interest of American citizens. They crafted and promoted New Deals, a Peace Corps, Civil Rights and Voting Acts. These programs helped all Americans, even those who claim to be self-made.
Record donations to Meals on Wheels would be wonderful, if they would actually save the program. They won’t, but they will do two other things.
They will drain and strain an already stretched population. People making donations today to Meals on Wheels are not corporations or wealthy private donors setting up long-term trusts. They’re people who don’t want their parents and neighbors to die alone of starvation. They could make a $20 donation, or even a $2,000 donation, but they can’t give enough to maintain it for as long as we need it – and we have a huge number of people who are going to need it in addition to those who need it NOW. (Census report, enjoy!)
They will also enable lawmakers to cut deeper. “Look at Meals on Wheels,” they’ll say, “we cut that entitlement* and now it’s better than ever!” They will point to this moment of mass charity and American spirit for years to come, denying what will inevitably happen next: the money will dry up, states and cities won’t have room for it in the budget, and it will die.
*Funny how being entitled is only a bad thing when it applies to the poor, the sick, Veterans, women, children, immigrants…
Paul Ryan, a neighbor of mine from Janesville, Wisconsin, has admitted he has “dreamed of this” since he was a young man “drinking at a keg.” That’s amazing. Way to never give up! (Technically, he’s talking about cutting medical care – does that make you feel better??)
I’m not saying people who donated were wrong to do so. Every day, I think of the Barenaked Ladies song, “If I Had a Million Dollars,” and imagine all of the causes I could serve and people I could help if only I had a little bit more. We do have generous hearts, we don’t want others to suffer.
(Except Paul Ryan, I actually want him to suffer. Sorry, Jesus.)
If only we Americans paid a little extra for goods every time we bought something, and a little percentage on everything we earned. If only there was a certain time of year we could surrender some of our money to be used for things that really mattered to us. Why, I’ll bet we’d hardly miss it, and just imagine what that money could do – if only it were in the right hands.